The 3rd Woman

the 3rd womanPublished: 2015
Author: Jonathan Freedland

An intelligent thriller


Since 2006 Guardian journalist Jonathan Freedland has been publishing thriller novels under the pseudonym Sam Bourne, using the false name to distinguish his fiction work from his journalism. I read a couple of the Bourne books, enjoying their political and thriller aspects and while there were comparisons to The Da Vinci Code, I always preferred Bourne to Brown. Freedland has decided to return to his real name, partly because of the need for readers and authors to connect on social media. The 3rd Woman is the first novel to be published with Freedland reverting to his own name.

The book is set in near future America where financial crises have led to the country being controlled by China and Chinese troops garrisoned in the States to ensure their financial interests are protected. Madison Webb is a journalist who exposes corruption without fear for her own safety, but her world is shattered when her younger sister Abigail is murdered. As Madison investigates she discovers that two other young women have been killed in similar circumstances but as she digs deeper she becomes caught up in a political conspiracy that could threaten the relationship between America and China.

This is a brilliant thriller, really well written with a gripping story that keeps you hooked on the action. The first line is “It was the last day of January and the New Year was approaching” which confused me at first but once I realised how it linked into the storyline I was taken by its Orwellian influences. Although The 3rd Woman is set in a future America, it wasn’t science-fictiony or dystopian. All of the political mechanisms and events which lead to America’s situation seem believable and even mundane. The book however isn’t about the high-level political mechanisms which led to international treaties but the impact on individuals and lower level politicians.

I used to work in politics and particularly enjoyed the interactions between politicians and their candidates. Even though I never worked in the US, I recognised a lot of what happened and how politicians (on all sides of the divide) judge events on their ability to gain votes rather than the human impact.

One thing that was slightly annoying was the amount of cliff-hangers, it got a little tiring as did the repetition of phrases at the end of chapters along the lines of “Madison was more sure than ever she had identified her sister’s killer…”. Once I had read that for the third time, I was pretty sure that she hadn’t and wished that she would just hurry up and get on with it.

This is intelligent, thoughtful and brings a nice new twist to what is really just a standard thriller narrative of non-cop investigating a murder and being faced with obstacles from officialdom. Thoroughly recommended.

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  1. I was on this blog tour and I really liked this one too!

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