*Porter, Henry. The Bell Ringers. Atlantic Monthly Press. Feb 2010. c.416p. ISBN 978-0-8021-1931-5. $24.00. F
Sixty years after the publication of George Orwell’s 1984, Porter (Brandenburg Gate) turns to England’s very near future in a chilling political thriller that is all the more frightening when one realizes that Orwell’s dystopia has quietly become current reality. Expatriate lawyer Kate Lockhart returns to London to find that a close friend, David Eyam, the former head of Britain’s Joint Intelligence Committee, has apparently been killed in a terrorist attack. To her surprise, Eyam has left not only most of his estate to her but also a host of dangerous secrets. Before Eyam fell out of favor with Prime Minister John Temple, he had set up a secret and invasive data-mining system, now being misused by Temple and his corporate backers. With powerful forces allied against her, Kate and Eyam’s “bell ringers” must risk death to save a country poised on the brink of a “vindictive technological totalitarianism.” VERDICT A corrective read for anyone who feels more secure because of the Patriot Act, this gripping novel will appeal to readers of action-packed patriotic thrillers (think Brad Thor) as well as fans of David Baldacci and Brad Meltzer.