‘The Chair Man’ by Alex Pearl
Michael Hollinghurst is a successful corporate lawyer living a comfortable, suburban life in leafy North West London. But on 7 July 2005, his life is transformed when he steps on a London underground train targeted by Islamist suicide bombers. While most passengers in his carriage are killed, Michael survives the explosion but is confined to a wheelchair as a result.
Coming to terms with his predicament and controlling his own feelings of guilt as a survivor conspire to push him in a direction that is out of character and a tad reckless. In a quest to seek retribution, he resorts to embracing the internet and posing as a radical Islamist in order to snare potential perpetrators.
Much to his surprise, his shambolic scheme yields results and is brought to the attention of both GCHQ and a terrorist cell. But before long, dark forces begin to gather and close in on him. There is seemingly no way out for Michael Hollinghurst. He has become, quite literally, a sitting target.
On the morning of July 7th 2005, I was waiting to catch a flight to Venice. News began to filter through that something terrible had happened in London. One of my best friends lived in north London and was working out towards Heathrow.
As the BBC News began speculating about power surges and explosions on the Tube, I watched in horror as the route my friend, Dan, took every day was highlighted by the ashen-faced presenters.
Then an exploded bus was shown. Also on his route.
My phone began lighting up. There are a bunch of us: the same age, the same year at school – we speak every day. Richard phoned. “I can’t get a hold of Dan.”
“Me neither.” Texts went unanswered. Phone calls fizzled out. We realised that the mobile phone networks had been shut down in order to avoid remote detonations.
My partner at the time was flapping. “Do we fly? What are we going to do? Aren’t all the trains cancelled?”
I had no answers.
At 09:30, the phone rang. “What?” snapped a fairly cheesed off Dan, whose phone had almost combusted with the number of calls and messages.
“Where the fuck have you been?”
“I walked to work. It took ages. What’s the matter?”
Never been so delighted to hear the crabbit Cockney in my life.
And here we have a novel which uses this as the catalytic event of the main characters life. Alex Pearl has crafted an exciting thriller which sees his protagonist Michael Hollinghurst ensnared in all sorts of dramas, trapped between a terrorist cell and the security services.
The novel opens with one of the most surprising events I can remember in a thriller and Pearl is very good on the daily issues and inconveniences experienced by the disabled.
Overall, a thumping good read with a white knuckle conclusion.
Author Bio –
Alex’s first novel ‘Sleeping with the Blackbirds’, a darkly humorous urban fantasy, written for children and young adults, was initially published by PenPress in 2011. It has since become a Kindle bestseller in the US. In 2014, his fictionalised account of the first British serviceman to be executed for cowardice during the First World War was published by Mardibooks in its anthology, ‘The Clock Struck War’. A selection of his blog posts is also available in paperback under the title ‘Random Ramblings of a Short-sighted Blogger.’ In 2019, his psychological thriller, ‘The Chair Man’ that is set in London in 2005 following the terrorist attack on its public transport system, was published as an ebook by Fizgig Press. The paperback followed in 2020.
Alex lives in NW London with his wife and terribly spoilt feline.
He is quite possibly the only human being on this planet to have been inadvertently locked in a record shop on Christmas Eve.
You can visit his website at http://booksbyalexpearl.weebly.com
Social Media Links – https://linktr.ee/AlexPearl