“Love is in the air, everywhere I look around…” So, the lyrics of the John Paul Young song go. But with today being the fourteenth of February, it’s quite apt for this book review, with its plot based on the use of cutting-edge technology to put love or the feelings of intense emotion in the air or more appropriately in the ears. This month’s second book review is Yearn To Fear by Chas Murrell and was self-published in November 2020.
Marcus Hall is an Australian scientist working at CSIRO (Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation) developing ground-breaking 5G Wi-Fi technology with Lamarr computer chips (Yes, Hedy wasn’t just a beautiful actress, but also had a razor-sharp mind to boot). One afternoon when his boss is off sick, Marcus and his colleague Henry Henderson, inadvertently create a device that therapeutically allows the wearer to experience very intense “wet dreams”. When his project manager Sarah returns a couple of days later after recovering from the flu and in guidance with post COVID-19 protocols, he informs her of their discovery. She in turn informs their General Manager, but after that meeting, she starts acting very strangely and goes straight home with Marcus’s prototype. When he makes a welfare check on Sarah at her house later, he discovers that Henry is a spy working for the Australian Government, but then both men find Sarah murdered. A couple of hours after that, Marcus’s brother, sister in-law and girlfriend are kidnapped. With his prototype missing, along with his family now in danger and a mysterious kidnapper demanding Marcus hand over all other prototypes and plans for their development in return for the hostage’s freedom, can he trust Henry to help rescue the situation.
Wow, the first quarter of this book had me stopping to check I hadn’t picked up a Mills & Boon by accident, as it is very raunchy (Bridgerton-esque) and hedonistic. Every one of the main characters seems to be having sex. That’s without even trying out the revolutionary new device Marcus has created, let alone what they experience with it. However, after the discovery of Sarah’s murder, things slip into typical espionage mode.
Australian or antipodean spy thrillers aren’t new, take the Netflix series Pine Gap and Secret City for example. In the past I have read the works of fellow Australian thriller writer Matthew Reilly, behind me on the shelf sit two books by fellow Aussie rising star Chris Hammer (Scrubland and Silver), both read by my wife and fellow reviewer Georgina. While more recently I reviewed New Zealander, Vanda Symon’s, Sam Shepherd series on this blog and am looking forward to listening to her third book in the series Containment on Audible over the next week.
As for Yearn To Fear, it is a thoroughly enjoyable book, and Murrell really sets a fast pace with a unique and well researched story, while the banter between the main characters does make it an easy read and give it a feel very much of a Roger Moore 007 outing.
That is not to take away from the characters and the writing. The master mind and villain of the piece is very believably cold and manipulative. Murrell, breathes life into the story and characters, with in depth descriptions of anatomical reactions and engineering workings, whiskey and weaponry. At times, the technology being described even for someone working on an IT magazine, was a bit over whelming and felt slightly over my head. But overall, the storyline and intrigue keep the reader engaged right to the end.
This is Australian author Chas Murrell’s debut novel (www.chasmurrellcom.au). He’s a former Police Officer, Fire Commander, Customs Coastwatch Surveillance Co-Ordinator, mechanic and EMT instructor. He’s also previously written academic papers on liquid hydrogen, while also held a worldwide patent for a nonlinear mathematical calculation. (how much can one person fit into a life… I’m fifty and still have a lot of living left to get to a quarter of what Chas has achieved). He lives with his family in Tasmania, which he claims is very much like Scotland, which is apt considering he can claim to be a direct descendant of Robert The Bruce. When not writing you may find him online playing World Of Tanks (fancy a game of COD).
Another thing that makes this book standout among its contemporaries, especially those being published in around this time, is it’s deft references to the COVID-19 pandemic. In the beginning it highlights the financial results of the technology Marcus and Henry are working on to Australia’s budget deficit following the pandemic and then the covid-19 protocols Sarah has to follow after the bout of influenza. This is something I’m eagerly watching to see how other books, authors and TV shows respond to in the coming months. In this instance it’s another sign of a bright new talent responding to world changing events to keep his work relevant.
So, take my advice and order a copy online from Chas’s website as well as amazon and then snuggle up – while were still in Lockdown and get into this debut before the the next instalment of the “Lamarr” series Fear To Recal lands later this year.
Reviewed by Adrian Murphy
This book review is part of a Random Things Blog Tour, to see what the other reviewers thought visit their pages listed below. Then if you get a copy, comeback and tell us what you thought, we’d really appreciate the feedback.