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Open Arms

Vince Cable
This is Vince Cables’ first novel and sadly it’s a bit of a damp squib. The basic problem is that its central character – Kate Thompson – is more an observer of events than a shaper of them. She goes through the novel being at events but not greatly influencing them. That’s a significant flaw where most readers will expect to see their heroine (or hero) encountering difficulties and overcoming them.

The book is a political thriller, so I won’t give the plot away. Suffice to say it involves political corruption, Islamic terrorism, the international arms trade, and India/Pakistan tensions. As might be expected from a senior politician, Vince Cable takes a few pot shots at some targets along the way, but it’s done in a low-key way and the book never turns into a political diatribe.

There are some nice touches in the book. The behind the scenes political machinations at Westminster and local party politics are written from the perspective of a man well versed in the realities of such things. And Cable has clearly done his homework on a lot of the other details in the book – such as poverty and corruption on the Indian sub-continent.

But the central problem remains: the central character spends too much of the book being a passive observer of events. I suspect Vince Cable has got a decent novel in him, but he needs a central character who’s more of a mover and ‘shaker’ and a more tightly focused plot. Middle aged senior minister who decides elbow the current PM out of the way and grab the job themselves by fair means or foul might be an interesting idea – and Cable will have picked up enough knowledge over the years to come up with a plausible scenario.

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