Synopsis: After two long years spent in a secret British prison, Nadia Laksheva is suddenly granted her freedom. Yet there is a dangerous price to pay for her release: she must retrieve the Russian nuclear warhead stolen by her deadliest enemy, a powerful and ruthless terrorist known only as The Client.
But her mysterious nemesis is always one step ahead and the clock is ticking. In 37 hours, the warhead will explode, reducing the city of London to a pile of ash. Only this time, Nadia is prepared to pull the trigger at any cost…
The deadly trail will take her from crowded Moscow to the silent streets of Chernobyl, but will Nadia find what she is looking for before the clock hits zero?
Author: J.F Kirwan
Title: 37 Hours
Publisher: HQ Digital
Despite not having read J.F Kirwan’s first novel in this series, the synopsis for the second intrigued me. I was reliably informed it was not necessary to have read the first one, so I opened this book anticipating an exciting story.
It did not disappoint.
37 Hours tells the story of Nadia, a Russian with links to crime organisations. Or, rather stopping them. We are first introduced to Nadia in prison, having spent two years in either interrogation or isolation. But now she is free; free to help solve a terrorist threat in return to her freedom.
Nadia is a strong female character, one of the best I have read. She has her vulnerabilities, but she can also handle herself and will go through whatever is necessary if it means keeping her family safe. Despite having missed the prequel and therefore the initial introductions to Nadia’s character, I felt the reader still gets to know her in this novel alone: what she is fighting for and what she is prepared to give up.
It’s not fair, Katya had said earlier on the plane. Damned right. But they were Russian. History had stripped the belief in fairness from the gene pool a long time ago. What her had father said a thousand times? Make the choice right. Especially when you don’t have one.
The narration mainly follows Nadia, but we are introduced to glimpses of other people: her missing father and her partner, Jake (who is Nadia’s link to MI6). These insights help fill some of the blanks that would otherwise be present, an insight into the investigation and what other people know. But these secondary characters have story-arcs of their own and are engaging in their own right.
The threat is a missing nuclear bomb and the terrorist is a man no one can learn any real information about. But this man knows about Nadia. He knows about MI6 and Jake. He wants both Nadia and Jake killed, and knows where to find them in order to carry it out.
It quickly becomes apparent there is a mole in MI6. Although this increased the tension and kept me on my toes (you never knew which of their plans were going to work!), it also had a disadvantage. There is not only one mole; there are several. Once I was aware of this, it made it hard to trust any of the characters introduced, which stopped me from connecting with them. So saying, it throws you off when you didn’t guess the true nature of someone Nadia trusted.
The tension is high throughout. It only took me about a quarter of the book to realise I was completely gripped. The first attack on Jake and Nadia results in a shark attack – and I couldn’t turn the page quickly enough. The result of that attack made me really empathise with the characters. That was when I knew for certain I was in for a great read.
37 Hours is an enjoyable read. Fast-paced with the tension increasing as the story unfolds, this is a great spy thriller. I want to go back and read the first, but knowing the final destination of the characters might undermine their journey in the prequel. One thing is for sure: Kirwan is a talented author!
J.F. Kirwan is a writer for Harper Collins, under their HQ digital imprint.
By day he works in aviation and nuclear safety, but at night, during bouts of insomnia, he writes thrillers with significant body counts. He’s an ex-diving instructor, so there is an underwater element in each of his two novels, 66 Metres and 37 Hours.
Most readers find his writing has a cinematic feel, as if you are there with the characters. The original inspiration for the protagonist, Nadia, came from Stieg Larsson’s Girl with the dragon tattoo, though David Baldacci and Lee Child have had significant impact on the writing style, plotting and pace. He is currently writing the third book in the series.
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