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A Lovely Way to Burn    by Louise Welsh Amazon.com order for
Lovely Way to Burn
by Louise Welsh
Order:  USA  Can
Quercus, 2016 (2013)
Hardcover, Softcover, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Louise Welsh's A Lovely Way to Burn (first in her Plague Times trilogy) is a rather depressing dystopian mystery set in London, England where a new pandemic, labelled the Sweats, erupts, resulting in a breakdown of civilization.

This hampers the story's lead, TV presenter Stevie Flint, who is determined to find out who murdered her boyfriend, Dr Simon Sharkey. People who are not already dying flee London, but Stevie (who survives a bout of the illness) is obsessive in her search for answers. Simon had left her a note, telling her he left a package in her apartment loft space and wants her to deliver it unopened to a Mr. Reah at his hospital. He tells her to trust no-one else.

Stevie attempts to do so, but learns that the plague has already killed Reah. She keeps the package, but others want it badly. It seems linked to a breakthrough in the treatment of cerebral palsy, through microsurgery, a very expensive treatment that killed children who went through it. Attacked and on the run, Stevie convinces a hacker to get into Simon's computer and discovers that he was in contact with an investigative journalist. Now he's dead too.

People expire at every turn but Stevie is firmly fixated on her goal and succeeds in finding out what happened - though the quest nearly kills her too. The mystery is interesting in its way but overall a downer.

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