Review – Europe in Autumn by Dave Hutchinson

Posted: December 29, 2014 in Sci-Fi
Tags: , ,

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I’ll confess that this book was buried in a box marked ‘to review’ but jumped the line after I read an article in The Guardian praising it as one of the best of the year. I’ve read some great novels in 2014 and Europe in Autumn is definitely up there amongst the best of them. I, unfortunately, don’t remember who wrote that article (thanks!) but I will remember this book.

Europe in Autumn is a slow burn that gathers pace with real style until it’s stunning conclusion. Check out the blurb below…

Rudi is a cook in a Kraków restaurant, but when his boss asks Rudi to help a cousin escape from the country he’s trapped in, a new career – part spy, part people-smuggler – begins. Following multiple economic crises and a devastating flu pandemic, Europe has fractured into countless tiny nations, duchies, polities and republics. Recruited by the shadowy organisation Les Coureurs des Bois, Rudi is schooled in espionage, but when a training mission to The Line, a sovereign nation consisting of a trans-Europe railway line, goes wrong, he is arrested and beaten, and Coureur Central must attempt a rescue.

With so many nations to work in, and identities to assume, Rudi is kept busy travelling across Europe. But when he is sent to smuggle someone out of Berlin and finds a severed head inside a locker instead, a conspiracy begins to wind itself around him. With kidnapping, double-crosses and a map that constantly re-draws itself, Europe in Autumn is a science fiction thriller like no other.

What begins as an espionage-esque thriller with an intriguing protagonist bumbling through and learning his trade, soon evolves into something intricately more gripping. As Rudi develops his trade craft and delves deeper into the world of the Coureur, things begin to take a strange turn. From his first mission it seems that a number of players have been directing the hapless Rudi. Yet, the chef is not as helpless as he seems, nor as gullible and so begins an odd, out in the open game of cat and..well cat.

Enveloping the whole of a fractured Europe, a cast of characters including gangsters, neo-nazis, forest rangers and unwitting accomplices, Europe in Autumn achieves a spectacular breadth and depth. Yet, it is in the last quarter of the book where things really get interesting. From a brilliant spy novel emerges an even more brilliant and speculative sci-fi consideration of maps, psycho-geography and the idea of parallel worlds inhabiting the same space.

This is a great book that starts off subtly and turns into a barn burner. Definitely recommended.

Review copy
Published by Solaris Books

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