Title: Keep Calm
Author: Mike Binder
Publisher: Henry Holt & Co.
Publication Date: 2 February 2016
When a bombing at 10 Downing Street wounds the Prime Minister and tests Great Britain’s resolve, American ex-cop Adam Tatum must confront a conspiracy in the highest halls of power.
Former Michigan detective Adam Tatum receives an unexpected offer, a golden opportunity that seems almost too good to be true. He travels to 10 Downing Street to participate in a high-stakes conference. Immediately after his visit, a bomb detonates, wounding the prime minister and placing Adam Tatum squarely in the crosshairs of suspicion.
Sensing a setup, Tatum flees with his family, desperately fighting for survival in an unfamiliar country. The lives of his children, the future of his marriage, and the fate of a nation depend on Tatum exposing the conspirators who pegged him for a fall.
Georgia Turnbull, the chancellor of the exchequer, and Davina Steel, the lead investigator, both stand to gain from the successful manhunt of Adam Tatum. But, as motives emerge and desires ignite, each must decide what they’re really after.
Layered plots, crackling dialogue, and propulsive action mark Keep Calm, the riveting debut thriller from award-winning actor, director, and screenwriter Mike Binder.
I had been wanting to read this book for a long time because the plot sounded super interesting. I read the blurb and I was intrigued because it had a lot of stuff that I like in my books. It had a bombing, it had political conspiracies, it had a mystery element and it sounded like it had a fast pace. Despite that, when I read the book itself I had a hard time connecting with the story.
Keep Calm is the debut thriller novel of Mike Binder and it follows the story of American ex-police officer and convicted criminal Adam Tatum as he tries to clear his name after being framed for a bombing at 10 Downing Street which severely injures the British prime minister, Roland Lassiter. The story also follows Davina Steel, the lead investigator on the case, and Georgia Turnbull, the prime minister’s replacement, as they try to determine what really happened.
While I had trouble getting into the book, it was definitely not because of the plot. The whole idea of a foreigner being blamed for a terrorist attack in order to cover up a political conspiracy makes for an interesting story. I feel that it would probably make a good movie because it just has that action film vibe where the story is a little over the top and moves at a cracking pace with lots of action.
For the most part I liked Binder’s writing style. It was relatively simple to read, not too descriptive and fast paced. The only problem I had was with the decision to continuously jump backwards and forwards in time between chapters. It was fine for the first third of the book where it alternated between before and after the bombing because it progressed the story while also showing how we got to that point. However, for the middle third the jumping makes the book feel disjointed because they are both telling the same story from opposite sides, except that one side is a few days ahead of the other. To me, it ruined the suspense a bit because often I could already see what was about to happen because it had already happened in the other side of the story.
The other main reason that I couldn’t really get into the book was the characters. I just couldn’t connect to any of them. It felt at times that the characters were secondary to the plot and therefore they sometimes did things and reacted in ways that didn’t seem normal in order to advance the plot, which made it hard to relate with them at times. Also, I feel that having a strong main character is important and none of the main three characters really fit that bill for me because they all felt like pushovers.
All in all, Keep Calm is a book that showed me how important it is to have good characters. Despite the fact that the plot had all the things I look for in a book, I just couldn’t get myself interested in it because there wasn’t a character that I cared about. Apart from that qualm though, everything else in Mike Binder’s debut novel is pretty good.
Worth a read? If you are looking for an action-packed and fast-paced political conspiracy thriller that reads like a Hollywood action film, then Keep Calm is worth a read.