Wednesday, 25 December 2013
The Helpers - Suzanna E. Nelson
Title: The Helpers
Author: Suzanna E. Nelson
The Book Depository
“The Helpers” by Suzanna E. Nelson is an interesting and complex thriller which follows the attempts of a secret organisation’s attempts at maintaining control in the Democratic Republic of Congo. However, when an American reporter unexpectedly uncovers elements of their latest plot she is drawn into a dangerous game which puts her own life at risk.
Without doubt this is a fun thrill ride of a story with a complex plot that takes the reader across three continents and through a multitude of characters. The story does start off quite slowly but the pacing quickly ramps up and the plot begins to whip the reader from one element to the next. In the latter half of the novel I really enjoyed watching Lance, one of the French Intelligence agents travelling around the world trying to expose the villains as it was exciting, fast paced and entertaining.
In regards to the cast of characters, I really enjoyed seeing Nelson create a broad tableau of different people here who crossed various different national, racial, and gender lines. She also managed to avoid creating the usual archetypes seen in this type of thriller, there were no infallible spies or fearless reporters in this book. I basically found myself believing that these people could be real because most of them had their own flaws and hang-ups which were there for everyone to see.
There are some issues however with the novel which became pretty clear very early on. For example, the number of characters itself can make it quite hard to fully grasp what is going on as the narrative jumps between them all. I found that this along with the slow initial pacing to the novel meant I struggled initially to really get into the novel. The other major issue I had is that the conversation between the characters just didn’t flow naturally. It was all very formal and stilted which didn’t feel right in many of the situations we witnessed.
The only other stand out observation for me was in regards to the romance plotline. I just didn’t get it to be honest. I don’t know if this stemmed from the stilted dialogue I mentioned earlier but personally I didn’t see any natural or obvious sign of attraction to each other. They just appeared to talk together a few times and then suddenly decided they had feelings for each other. It almost felt like the author believed there should be some sort of romantic element to the story and forced it in.
Overall, this was an enjoyable and entertaining thriller which explores a part of the world I never normally read about. There are some weak elements to the novel in regards to the dialogue etc. but if you are after a complex conspiracy based thriller then you may find that this novel does a good job at passing the time.