AbruptPaul Hardisty has delivered a thriller of the highest quality with The Abrupt Physics of Dying, which is published by Orenda Books, initially as an e-book, on Monday. As an entertainment it keeps the pages turning relentlessly as truth is glimpsed and then lost in uncertainty and deception, and as a story of our times it highlights the powers lurking in shadows, moving their pawns around a global chess board and casting lives into the abyss for the sake of power and profit. This is a must read novel for fans of the genre and already Claymore Straker has shown the potential to one day stand in the company of such luminaries as Bond and Bourne.

Most of the action takes place in Yemen and the setting is wonderfully described such that the reader is immersed in its geography and positioned right in the midst of events. Straker himself is flawed. His past is dark and haunts him. Up to now he has managed to bury the nightmares in a grim determination to simply do his job, never questioning his conscience, but no longer. Drawn into a devout culture he is forced to reflect on his actions and face his reckoning.

Hardisty’s own CV shows many years’ experience as an engineer, hydrologist and environmental scientist who has lived and worked in the Middle East. Born in Canada he now lives in Australia where he is a university professor and a Director of Australia’s national science agency.  He also describes himself as a pilot, sailor and explorer, who competes in ironman triathlons for fun. It’s not hard to see where the authenticity of the writing comes from as “Clay” explores the science, and the corruption of science, of oil production in Yemen.

The action is intense and violent, but the storytelling is rooted in character and culture, it has a depth that you connect with. As events unravel in front of Straker you join him in trying to understand the different agendas and perspectives that are demanding his help and loyalty. The blurred lines in his internal struggle leave room for you to wrestle with your own values and beliefs. We all make judgments every day even on the very fringes of global issues and we all turn a blind eye to corruption and injustice, allowing us to forget our part and take the easy option.

The narrative twists and turns, you have no more idea than Straker who to trust, who to believe, and you share in his fear and frustrations. It is a roller coaster ride of a read and the strength of the visual imagery seems to make it an ideal candidate for conversion to the cinema screen. If the second instalment in Straker’s story, which is due for release in around a year’s time, continues to deliver at this level then it will surely attract such attention. This is intelligent writing that both entertains and challenges and it deserves a wide audience.


The Abrupt Physics of Dying is published as e-book on December 15th