Simon's Bookcase

Reviews from Lord Taylor of Glencoe

Rogue Nation

Rogue Nation: Alan Clements, October 28—November 7, 2016
My rating: ♦♦♦♦◊

roguenationAs topical political thrillers go, this turned out to be scarily close to the truth.

Written in 2009, Rogue Nation predicts a 2014 with a Tory majority, Republican president and victory for the Yes side in the Scottish independence referendum. Despite all three of those predictions turning out to be smack bang wrong, it’s a very recognisable world.

The book is set in the 100 days between the Yes vote and Scotland’s independence beginning. The First Minister and his advisor have to successfully manage diplomatic affairs between England, the USA and Russia. Naturally, edge-of-your-seat drama is not far behind.

Without giving away the plot, a medley of twists leave Holyrood with enormous ethical dilemmas. Before long, we’re talking war, assassination and terrorism. The most interesting question, though, is who is the bad guy? Is it Scotland, Russia or the States who are really the rogue nation? An argument can be put forward for each: you’ll change your mind, if you ever make it up.

The story is told mostly by George, the First Minister’s advisor and basically Alastair Campbell equivalent. He’s got his own family dramas, of course, and wants to do the right thing without making First Minister and long-time friend(?) Ross look like what us Scots call a bawbag. His moral struggle is very real and the game is extremely dangerous.

The First Minister, American President and Russian President all make devastating decisions that are ultimately the best for their own country, and have to spin them as being not horrific. Think Bush’s Iraq with bells on.

The first two-thirds up the ante constantly with new twists and layers, but once all the set pieces are revealed, there’s a bit of a lull until the denouement. But the lag is still enjoyable and it soon ramps up again.

If you started at the end, you’d think it melodramatic and insane, but reading from the start there can be no other way for it to unfold. It’s so terrifyingly plausible, and given that Clements is married to BBC Scotland newsreader Kirsty Work, it’s not surprising that there’s a realism to the story. There’s something chilling about reading a book set in the White House, Kremlin, Downing Street, BBC Scotland, Edinburgh Castle, Glasgow’s Argyle Street and Paisley’s Paisley Road West.

Rogue Nation is a tense and exciting exploration of what could have been and what could still be. The fragility of 21st century Western politics is laid bare, and one question is never really answered: how close are we to being a rogue nation?


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This entry was posted on November 7, 2016 by in 4 star and tagged .

Author Cloud

@Queen_UK Adolf Hitler agatha christie Alan Clements Alastair Campbell Aldous Huxley Aleksandr Orlov Alex Shaffer Andrew Neiderman Anthony Burgess Arthur Miller Bateman Ben Brooks Ben Elton Bram Stoker Bret Easton Ellis C.J. Cherryh Carolyn Jess-Cooke Charles Dickens Chuck Palahniuk Dan Brown Dante Alighieri dashiell hammett david baldacci David Brin David Glattauer David Kirkpatrick David Line David Tennant David Wolstencroft Dylan Jones E.L. James Edgar Allen Poe Emilia Fox Eoin Colfer Erica Spindler Frank Peretti Gabrielle Lord Gareth Roberts Geoff Ryman George Orwell George R. R. Martin George W. Bush Gillian Flynn Gillian Slovo Graham Greene Guy Piran Harper Lee Harriet Lane Herman Koch Ian Rankin J.K. Rowling Jack Thorne Jacqueline Rayner James Herbert James Patterson Jasper Fforde Jeff Green Jeff Kinney Jeffrey Archer Jem Lester Jenny Robson Jeremy Clarkson Jerry B. Jenkins Jim Thompson John Crowther John Green John Grisham John Tiffany John Verdon Jonas Jonasson Judith Kerr Juliana Foster Justin Richards Kaci Hill Karen Levine Keeley Bolger Louis Walsh malorie blackman Marissa Meyer Mark Haddon Mark Z. Danielewski Martin Sixsmith Mary Higgins Clark Mary McNamara Matt Haig Matthew Ravden Michael Berry Michael Connelly Michael Morpurgo Michael Quirke Miguel de Cervantes Mike Lancaster Morris Gleitzman Morton Rhue Neil Sinclair Nick Hornby Nick Page Patricia Cornwell Patricia Stotley Patrick Ness Paula Hawkins Paul Johnston Peter James Phil Allcock R.J. Palacio Rachelle Dekker Raymond Chandler Richard Bachman Robert Louis Stevenson Robert Ludlum Robin Cook Robin Kirkpatrick sandra brown Sebastian Beaumont Sharon Osbourne Stella Rimmington Stephen Cole Stephen King Steve Lookner Steve Lyons Stuart MacBride Sue Townsend Suzanne Collins ted dekker Terry Pratchett Tim LaHaye Tim Randall Todd Strasser Tom Avery Tom Bower Tom Cain Tom Hoyle tony blair William Golding William P. Young William Shakespeare