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Thriller set in CANTON VAUD (and Geneva)

24th October 2023

Geneva by Richard Armitage, thriller set in Geneva and Canton Vaud (which is officially francophone, just for the record).

Thriller set in CANTON VAUD

Professor Sarah Collier is a very bright woman. She has won a Nobel prize for her work on Ebola. She is lauded and feted in the world of science and pharma but, on a personal level, she is also developing Alzheimer’s. Her husband Daniel, also a bright button, is getting the tests sorted for her and standing right by her side, as he assures her all the time. They both know the trajectory of Alzheimer’s, as her father is in the later stages of the disease.

For Daniel, Sarah’s success is a double-edged sword, as he struggles in her shadow and has to curb his jealousy.

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He is the person who has pushed for them as a couple to spend a few days in Geneva, in order to attend the launch of Neurocell at the Schiller Institute, in the municipality of Chateau d’Oex. Generally – as we get to hear through blog updates by activist Terri Landau – this is a “controversial piece of biotech”. It is a neural implant, a chip that sits between the carotid artery and vagus nerve, designed to tackle neurological disorders, including the plaques formed in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients (pertinent, given Sarah’s condition). In the wrong hands it could, however, prove to be a potent weapon. Given it is such a controversial development, why is Sarah involved, as she has such a high moral stance….?

I get some sense that the publisher’s editorial team got a little star struck to be working with such a well known British actor on this, and therefore didn’t go through the editing process with a finely honed tooth comb: “The music builds..”  is the opener to one sentence and then two sentences later – yep, “The music builds..” (this time to a crescendo, to be fair). The author refers to the Autobahn when – as the action takes place in the French speaking area – should have been autoroute. It’s not Ausgang, it’s Sortie 🙄 and Police Cantonale, not Kantonspolizei.  The Swiss are very particular that the correct language is used in the appropriate Canton. They also tend not to like having Euros thrust at them in payment 😡 I mean all this is simple and BASIC research, for goodness’ sake.

Sarah heads out on a plane with her husband and he describes her having had a wobble. She subsequently goes on to talk about a black out and, as a reader, I did a double take, because I didn’t associate the former with the latter. Both women in the book have been given green eyes, which is perhaps deliberate or confusing (keep an eye out for mentions 😉)? Given all the money that has been pumped into this – actually quite readable – novel, one might have expected better from the publishing team.

The character of Sarah Collier, states the author, is inspired by Sarah Gilbert, the face of the Oxford AstraZeneca Covid vaccine and knowing that, I just felt a touch uncomfortable that the fictional character has the same Christian name as the real life pioneer. A different name to underline separateness might have been better because at some levels it currently feels weirdly inappropriate, especially given the affliction from which Sarah in the book is described as suffering. – it’s akin to dancing on someone’s grave.

Overall, I was keen to see how the story evolved, it’s an easy-to-read novel with an engaging writing style.  And the author is so personable and engaged in the public arena. The ending does turn a bit bonkers but overall it makes for a good read – apart from the issues mentioned above, which made my teeth grind a bit.

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Tina for the TripFiction Team 

Catch the author on Twitter @RCArmitage

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