Writers in a state of fear ignore the Islamist in the room


More unusually, the thriller is about an Islamist attack on Britain. Whatever subtleties he offers the reader, Clyde is not frightened of saying that Islamists are an enemy. You should buy this book for that reason alone because very few writers are prepared to be as blunt.

One of the strangest features of mass culture over the past decade has been the near-total break between what thriller writers write and what spies do. Since 9/11, the fight against radical Islam has consumed the time of intelligence services and anti-terrorist police forces. Yet it barely features in spy fiction. The standard plot device remains the enemy within. The Bourne films were the most successful thrillers of the 2000s, and deservedly so. But it was not al Qaeda but corrupt and unscrupulous officers in the CIA, whom Bourne had to fight. In the recent Bond films, 007 is also up against a cabal of western conspirators rather than a plausible foe.

As soon as you see a government minister, or intelligence or police chief in television drama, meanwhile, you need only set your watch and count the minutes until the hero exposes him as the cancer at the heart of society.

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