Absolution … or the return of Claymore Straker


Of course, it was the ultimate indulgence. Friends, lovers, people you cared for. They tied you down, kept you dependent, made you vulnerable. And worse, they paid for their friendship with vulnerability. When someone wants to hurt you they target those you love most.” – Claymore Straker, island off the East Coast of Africa


It’s 1997, months since Claymore Straker’s testimony at South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and Clay’s taking time out on an island off the coast of Zanzibar, as Paul E. Hardisty’s new novel, Absolution, opens. He’s emotionally and physically compromised and he’s retreated to this remote idyll to snorkel and regroup. But nowhere in the world is that isolated and even here, reality intrudes – in the form of contract killers who murder members of the local family he’s befriended, as he watches, powerless to stop them.

In Paris, Clay’s ex-lover, journalist Rania LaTour, isn’t fairing much better. Now married to a human rights lawyer with whom she has a child, Rania returns home to find them both missing. As she struggles to work out what has happened to them, the events off the coast of East Africa begin to unfold.

In this, the fourth outing for Straker, Hardisty takes us from remote African islands and European cities to Egypt, where Clay and Rania cross paths, all the way meticulously laying the foundation for the story.

As with the earlier novels, Absolution is action-packed from beginning to end. The plot is split between Rania’s almost lyrically written diary entries – addressed to Clay, and full of truths that she will never tell him – and the narrative which follows Clay, the events almost mirroring each other in terms of time frame.

Rania’s dream-like entries provide a shocking contrast to the detached brutality that often infuses Clay’s narrative, turning Absolution into more than just a good thriller. Hardisty’s writing, characterisation and beautifully etched locations bring to mind old school writers like Ludlum, Forsyth and le Carré, whose plots centred on important events or periods in history, making them accessible to readers through tight plot lines and frankly, just crackingly good writing.

In addition, Absolution is extremely filmic – it’s topical and very location-led – and if it hasn’t already been optioned, mark my words, it soon will be.


Paul E. Hardisty’s Absolution  | Orenda | 30 May 2018 | paperback original | £8.99


Acknowledgements: This review is published as part of Absolution book tour. Many thanks to Anne Cater for arranging it and to the publisher, Orenda, for kindly supplying a review copy of the book. All thoughts and opinions are our own. Quoted text p. 17 © Paul E. Hardisty 2018. Image ‘Absolution in The Literary Lounge’ © The Literary Shed 2018.


Also of interest:Cold case – Isabelle Grey’s Wrong Way Home‘; ‘Elder’s last stand – John Harvey’s Body and Soul’; ‘Black Water – an entrée into Dublin’s underworld‘; ‘The Outer Circle – a tale of our times’; ‘Leigh Russell’s Geraldine Steel – you just can’t keep a good woman down’; ‘Finlay’s last stand – Matt Johnson’s End Game’; ‘We should all be feminists’; ‘Jane Harper’s stylish debut – The Dry’; ‘Mallory an old-style hero – It Happens in the Dark by Carol O’Connell’; ‘The long road – John Fairfax’s Summary Justice‘.


This review is © 2018 by The Literary Shed. All rights reserved. All opinions are our own. We welcome your feedback and comments. If you wish to reproduce this piece, please do contact us to request permission. Thank you so much.