Time of Lies
by Douglas Board
In 2020 the United Kingdom elects its own Donald Trump.
Bob Grant, former football hooligan, now the charismatic leader of the Britain’s Great party, has swept to power on a populist tide. With his itchy finger hovering over the nuclear trigger, Bob presides over a brave new Britain where armed drones fill the skies, ex-bankers and foreigners are vilified, and the Millwall football chant ‘No one likes us, we don’t care’ has become an unofficial national anthem.
Meanwhile, Bob’s under-achieving, Guardian-reading brother Zack gets a tap on the shoulder from a shady Whitehall mandarin. A daring plot is afoot to defy the will of the people and unseat the increasingly unstable PM. Can Zack stop his brother before he launches a nuclear strike on Belgium? And just what is ACERBIC, Britain’s most closely-guarded military secret?
A darkly comic political thriller, Time of Lies is also a terrifyingly believable portrait of an alternative Britain. It couldn’t happen here… could it?
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Douglas Board is the author of the campus satire MBA (Lightning Books, 2015), which asked why so much of the business world is Managed By Arseholes. Time of Lies, his second novel, is a timely exploration of the collapse of democracy.
Born in Hong Kong, he has degrees from Cambridge and Harvard and worked for the UK Treasury and then as a headhunter. He has also had a distinguished career in public life, serving as treasurer of the Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fund and chairing the British Refugee Council.
As well as writing fiction, he is the author of two applied research books on leadership, which was the subject of his doctorate. He is currently a senior visiting fellow at the Cass Business School in London. He and his wife Tricia Sibbons live in London and Johannesburg.
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The beauty of satire is that you can laugh at it – but then, oh my, sometimes this is too close to being true (and who knows if it isn’t?)
Despite a slow start (it is a little confusing given the changing viewpoints which aren’t immediately obvious) this gets much pacier in the middle, and infinitely more fun then. Although, it wasn’t the ending I hoped for! 😉
Jack and Bob Grant are brothers who are poles apart. Jack is now using his actor name of Zack Parris which helps to distance him from his “Britain’s Great – End of!” brother, latterly the new PM.
Set in the very near future, the run-up to the elections sees the “Britain’s Great!” rallies (very reminiscent of Trump & Farage) dominate the landscape, and a popular policy is to single out bankers who are blamed for just about everything. Forced to wear a visible “B” on their clothing, and with the CEOs of major banks arrested after yet another recession and a bailout for Britain from the IMF, the story takes events of recent years and spins them, which makes for a fun read.
With his brother now elected as PM, Zack is nigh on apoplectic with confusion, anger and frustration, so when the chance comes to knock Bob from that pedestal, he feels he owes it to the country to grasp the opportunity with both hands.
Further fuelling his anger is the desire to avenge the death of his friend Alan – a banker – and whose death Zack places firmly on the rising intolerance in the country. The opportunity to settle a score is too tempting to refuse.
Masquerading as Bob, after weeks of planning to act just like him, Zack visits the Prince Regent to tender his cabinet’s resignation after PM Bob threatens to nuke Europe. (Clever! It makes the case for cloning, don’t you think? 😉 )
The story is only a hair’s breadth away from being true, and while there are elements that could be considered far-fetched, in today’s political climate it’s abundantly clear that just about anything goes.
For instance: In the book, relations with Europe are pretty dire once Britain has left the EU, (isn’t that the truth already?) and France tells Britain the Channel Tunnel will be closed for 24 hours. What France doesn’t say is that they are going to let all the refugees and asylum seekers in the Calais camps into the tunnel, and even provide them with all the necessary services – loos, food, water – as they walk through the tunnel to England. Then France seals up the tunnel at their end. This is priceless satire – loved it (but only because it seems too fantastic to be true – then again, who knows? The Brexit shambles isn’t exactly going well, is it?)
This is an entertaining read, very much of its moment. If you’ve taken any interest in the political upheaval currently facing Britain, then reading this book will either make you laugh or cry.
You just have to love satire, especially when it runs so near to the knuckle that you can smell blood.
I’ll be posting my review of The Rats, also by Douglas Board, tomorrow. Why not pop by and take a look?
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