Divide and Rule
by Rachel McLean
Divide and Rule
Jennifer Sinclair’s fight to save her political career, her family and her freedom has failed. Traumatised by prison violence, she agrees to transfer to the mysterious British Values Centre.
Rita Gurumurthy has betrayed her country and failed the children in her care. Unlike Jennifer, she has no choice, but finds herself in the centre against her will.
Both women are expected to conform, to prove their loyalty to the state and to betray everything they hold dear. One attempts to comply, while the other rebels. Will either succeed in regaining her freedom?
Divide and Rule is 1984 for the 21st century – a chilling thriller examining the ruthless measures the state will take to ensure obedience, and the impact on two women.
Another 5 star read from author Rachel McLean, and I’m not just saying that because I was so desperate to read this second book in the Division Bell Trilogy. In fact, I made myself wait until I could put everything aside and lose myself in this world. However, this is not a world I want to be lost in; unfortunately it feels all too close, too possible and way too scary.
Consider this as a premise: an erosion of rights in pursuit of an ideology framed as an act of loyalty to the sovereignty of the state.
Sound familiar? Heck, it does …and that is what makes it so chilling. Is this what we could become? This is a book that I both wanted to read, and also dreaded reading. When fiction blurs with a potential reality, we hope there’s a happy ending. This book will have you praying for that happy ending … This is fiction with one very scary foot in the door of a new world that might once have been labelled futuristic or dystopian. These days, such a story could all too easily be seen as prophetic. I live in hope that Book 3 of the trilogy will bring the cavalry to stop the madness – although, both in the real world and this fictional one, I have my doubts.
But, back to the book. This continues from where we left off, with Jennifer, once the Prisons Minister, now in the same prison where the death of a prisoner occurred on her watch. To say she is unpopular would be beyond exaggeration. Added to the very real threat now facing her, she is also left unaware of how the land lies for her son, who was arrested shortly before her.
When she is finally transferred to a new facility, she – perhaps naively – assumes there will be a logical and more reasonable solution available to her. At the very least, contact with her solicitor, an update on her family, and details of the charges against her.
These are the same assumptions held by Rita Gurumurthy, arrested in her classroom for not reciting the daily oath with her pupils.
Now, both women face the six step program to prove their loyalty to the state, to confirm their “British Values”, and – more importantly – to denounce their wicked ways. But, this is a place where lying is not an option. And if you fail the test twice, then release is no longer an option either.
With the odds heavily stacked against them, the story is told in alternating chapters, highlighting the differing tactics used to effectively ‘break’ each woman. Jennifer, a former cabinet Minister, an MP, a family woman who puts family and country before career and party, for whom principles mean more than policy. Rita, a strong-willed woman of principles, who believes in fairness and equality. Who is the stronger? Who has the best strategy? And, who, ultimately, will prevail?
While I need to know how this trilogy ends, I’m not sure I have the mental capacity to do so. I have to keep reminding myself this is fiction, but, damn it, that is a tough call to make.
Ah, what the heck … bring it on. Forewarned is forearmed, right?
An exciting, scary, chilling and thrilling read. McLean knows how to twist the knife, to ramp up the tension, and then … to leave you desperate for more.
About the author:
I’m told that the world wants upbeat, cheerful stories – well, I’m sorry but I can’t help. My stories have an uncanny habit of predicting future events (and not the good ones). They’re inspired by my work at the Environment Agency and the Labour Party and explore issues like climate change, Islamophobia, the refugee crisis and sexism in high places. All with a focus on how these impact individual people and families.
You can find out more about my writing, get access to deals and exclusive stories or become part of my advance reader team by joining my book club at rachelmclean.com/bookclub.