Set Free by Anthony Bidulka
Review by The Bookbag
Summary: Clever and compelling, Set Free is a thriller that will have you racing through the pages to discover just what is happening, and just who is telling the truth. A thrilling exploration of the concept of Freedom, Set Free is well worth a read.
Within minutes of arriving in the exotic, enigmatic, sweltering city of Marrakech, renowned author Jaspar Wills is kidnapped, blindfolded, bound and beaten. As Wills struggles to survive, he recounts his rise to fame, and the tragic events that led him to Morocco. With the kidnapper’s demands left unmet, Wills faces death with fear, grief… and guilt. What happened in his past that led to this? Is someone he loves responsible, or is this payback for past sins? Living with a loss far greater than that of his own life, Jasper yearns to be set free. Six months later, struggling reporter Katie Edwards travels to Morocco to investigate the disappearance – and discovers a shocking truth. With stunning revelations galore, the truth will set you free. Can lies do the same?
I may have mentioned before that I’m not the biggest thriller fan. I’m not one for cheap shocks, so they have to be well plotted and craftily executed to keep me turning the pages. Thankfully, Anthony Bidulka is an experienced author who has brought his skills to Set Free, and created a compelling thriller that will have readers racing through to discover the answers to the various questions that are thrown at them as they read.
One thing I’ve found an issue in recent thrillers, is the characters. Books like Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train undeniably grip, but one of the strongest things I felt whilst reading them, was that everyone is horrible. Redeeming features seem to be forsaken for plot twists, and it’s a real shame, as for me it makes the characters far less believable, and far more of a challenge to invest in the situations presented by the plots of these books. Bidulka seems to understand that though, and has created characters who, whilst flawed and sometimes down right unpleasant, still have a strong sense of humanity that is easily glimpsed, even in their darkest moments.
It’s this compelling humanity that makes the book so readable, as no matter how shocking the revelation, you always want to know how the characters will respond and come through. Additionally, Set Free plays with time a little – the initial captivity of Jaspar allowing him time to fill the reader in on his surprising backstory. The setting switches between America and Marracech in the space of a sentence, but the transition is managed so well by the author that it’s impossible to get lost, and the back story is incredibly compelling, adding to the tension already provided by the main plot. There may be moment where you wonder just how reliable the narrator is, and these are again handled skilfully – a lovely sense of unease is created which just invested me in the plot even more.
The concept of freedom is what is explored thoroughly here – Freedom from captivity, from pain, from grief, and from the past. The truths that Bidulka’s characters tell are moving and compelling, but it’s the lies that make this a fantastic read – we know that the truth can set you free, but what about lies? Many thanks to the publishers for the copy.
For further reading, I’d recommend The Wolf in Winter (Charlie Parker Thriller) by John Connolly – another thriller that startles with plot twists, but has a strong sense of humanity that really keeps the reader turning pages.