I couldn't wait to get my hands on the newest edition to the Steven Dunbar series by Ken McClure, Lost Causes. We arrive upon a different
Dunbar than in the previous instalment, disillusioned, he has quit his job at Sci-Med, and moved in with girlfriend Tally, he's even got rid of the Boxer. It is obvious however that this situation won't last, and he is soon called back to Sci-Med to face an impending public health crisis and investigate the re-emergence of a old threat.
I have to say that as a McClure fan I was disappointed with this offering. Unlike many of his other books, the plot in this one is a bit to predictable for my liking. This stems from the fact that Lost Causes is a sequel to Requiem, one of McClure's earlier, non-Dunbar novels. Whilst you don't have to have read Requiem prior to reading this, indeed the first third of the book is taken up with describing the prior events, I do think if you have read Requiem before the plot is too easy to guess, and this takes away from your enjoyment of the book. The exposition at the start of Lost Causes also leads to a slow start, uncharacteristic of McClure's work, but once the story gets going, around Chapter 8, it goes with a bang and there is non-stop action till the end. The last few pages however seem rushed, and this detracts from the ending, and almost makes it seem like McClure had a page limit he had to stick to, with a disappointing "afterwards the characters did..." paragraph on the final page. On a more positive light, once the story gets going, you are literally dragged along with it, and as such it only took me a little over 3 hours to finish the book. There are also some great moments of suspense, which unfortunately were not exploited enough.
Overall this is not the best example of McClure's work, with a slow start, and the feeling that really this was a much longer novel that had to be squeezed into a set number of pages. However, if you have not read Requiem (or cannot remember what happened in Requiem) Lost Causes will provide a gripping read with moments of suspense, in a believable political setting. Above all else I would not recommend re-reading Requiem before this, as it will spoil the plot for you. Although don't let this put you off reading it afterwards, as it is one of the best examples of McClure's writing with a plot so suspenseful it will knock your socks off.
Lost Causes is available from Amazon UK for £9.35, from Amazon US for $15.36 and from WH Smith for £9.75.