– Shepherd Arcus
Death. It’s not a pleasant topic under even the best of circumstances. And even though we all know we’re going to die eventually, the idea that there are things we can do to live healthy and prolong our lives gives us at least some feeling of comfort and control.
But what if you knew exactly when you were going to die? Not only did you know, but that it was exactly 1 year away and there was absolutely nothing you could do to prolong or prevent it? That’s the situation facing the “Clocks” in author Sean Cregan’s The Razor Gate.
Someone in Newport City has developed a powerful new medical technology, and unfortunately for the populace it’s being used in a terrifying way. People are being randomly taken, injected with a fatal virus, and returned. Sometimes they’re returned to where they were taken from, other times they wake up in a random location. Always, however, they find a note informing them they have exactly one year to live, and that their countdown to death is irreversible. They have been given The Curse.
The authorities know about the Curse, but have worked hard to keep its existence under wraps for fear of starting a panic. The lid gets blown off, literally, when a Clock with nothing to lose detonates a bomb on a crowded street in the heart of the city, killing dozens and injuring scores more. Now two people who were at the scene and survived, cop Charlie Garrett whose girlfriend is a Clock, and journalist Maya Cassinelli who knew the apparent target of the bombing, are dead set on getting to the bottom of who’s behind the Curse. They aren’t the only ones, however, as a powerful secret organization known as The Foundation also wants answers so they can take control of the technology behind the Curse for their own financial gain. It’s literally a race against time to see who will be the first to secure the source of the Curse, and a potential cure for it.
In The Razor Gate, author Sean Cregan has created an intense, intelligent, engaging thriller. The near-future Newport City is brought vividly to life under Cregan’s skillful hand, with the setting being familiar enough to feel real, but just foreign enough to feel exotic. Blackwater Port, a floating city within the city, is particularly intricately laid out, and its unique location and culture give it a decidedly ominous presence, making it almost a character itself. And while on its face The Razor Gate is a straight-up thriller, there are larger societal issues being addressed just under the surface, particularly the never-ending struggle between the rich and poor.
Cregan also handles the brutal reality faced by the Clocks adeptly, describing the various reactions those affected have – anger, stunned disbelief, renewed vigor to enjoy the time they have left – as well as the ripple effects their condition has on those who love them. None of us want to die anytime soon, but you should definitely want to take a trip through The Razor Gate.
The Razor Gate is available from Headline Publishing (ISBN: 978-0755358090).
Be sure to check out Sean Cregan’s guest post Time’s Up.