Monday 18 December 2017

Graveland: A conspiracy theory in the land of milk and money

This tension-filled novel proves the sky's the limit for Alan Glynn, says Myles McWeeney

BRADLEY COOPER as Eddie Morra and ABBIE CORNISH as Lindy in Limitless which was based on the novel The Dark Fields by Alan Glynn.
BRADLEY COOPER as Eddie Morra and ABBIE CORNISH as Lindy in Limitless which was based on the novel The Dark Fields by Alan Glynn.
Graveland by Alan Glynn.

Myles McWeeney

Two years ago the screen adaptation of Dublin-born writer Alan Glynn's first novel The Dark Fields was released as the movie Limitless starring Bradley Cooper and Robert de Niro.

The story of a struggling author who, thanks to discovering a cache of an experimental drug called NZT that allows him to access limitless potential within himself, becomes a mega-wealthy Wall Street trader and the target of ruthless men who want his supply of the miracle drug. The film was hugely successful and catapulted Glynn to international prominence as a writer with a distinct voice and an extraordinary ability to generate pace and tension.

Glynn's novel on which Limitless was based was published in 2004. Since then he has been working on his acclaimed thriller trilogy set partly in Dublin during and after the boom. The first two were Winterland and Bloodland.

His latest novel, Graveland, is the final part of this striking, loose-knit trilogy of conspiracy thrillers. In this one some of the most powerful players in the global financial markets are being picked off one by one.

First to die is Wall Street investment banker Jeff Gale, shot to death jogging in Central Park. The next victim is prominent hedge-fund manager Bob Holland, gunned down later that day as he and his wife exit a top restaurant in New York's sophisticated Upper West Side. Four days later an attempt on the life of billionaire Scott Lebrecht, CEO of giant conglomerate Black Vine Partners, is made.

While the police initially see these events as individual incidents, top investigative journalist Ellen Dorsey is convinced they are connected and she calls in all her markers with influential contacts to stay ahead of the curve and get to the heart of the story.

She encounters divorced and down-sized architect Frank Bishop whose daughter Lizzie has gone missing, and as they search for the young woman, who Ellen believes has important information that could prove her conspiracy theory, they are catapulted from a sleepy small-town university campus into the blazing spotlight of a national media storm and a devastating personal and public tragedy.

Meanwhile, in the shadows lurks the malign presence of James Vaughn, the predatory CEO of the giant equity firm The Oberon Capital Group, who featured in the two previous instalments of the trilogy.

Despite his failing health, the ageing tycoon is refusing to let go the reins of his company, a decision that has far-reaching consequences.

It would be unfair to reveal too much of the plot of this gripping and cleverly constructed thriller. Suffice to say that, given the terrible and violent events in Boston some weeks ago, it is an eerily prescient read and, as the blurb writer's hackneyed cliché puts it, really could have been torn from today's headlines.

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