So at the end of the last book, Incinerator, Finn Maguire saved the day, or his girlfriend/banker, but at the same time everyone has left him, Finn being too big a target and gangster magnet for anyone to be safe with him. Turns out he was right, when he gets abducted by a terrorist he always knew about, The Turk, who turned out to be someone he knew, and he's requested Finn set him up with a meeting with the Guvnor, the criminal McGovern, and he must comply because he has proof he knows by disturbing photos about Finn's former girlfriend, Zoe Prendergast. And even if Finn complies, how can he guarantee Zoe's safety? Without being put into the Turk's Shredder?
This book is the perfect way Niall Leonard explains how literature can set your fingernails free. The first Crusher was a lot of fun but I found it quite erotic and the ending, though the mystery resolution was very clever, at the very end didn't make much sense. Incinerator was a slight improvement and I read both books in no time at all. Shredder is the final blow, and I couldn't stop flipping the pages. This book is eleven chapters long, but three-hundred and eighty-two pages. Do the math and that's about thirty-six pages a chapter but I didn't feel any of it. The chapters were done faster than most books I've read this year. This time, there isn't as much of a mystery. There are some guessing games here and there and some background characters still end up valuable and you can't believe you didn't see their suspicions before, but for this one, there's essentially a turf war. Niall Leonard must have decided his fight scenes were always the best so he pumped those up some more. And it works. Spectacularly works.
Not only is it so action packed that a forty paged chapter is nothing, but this doesn't just creep up close but lives in the truth about the violent underworlds of London. This series has always had a strength for its cruelty, the things that go bump in the night. How do I explain? Here goes. Finn has had some stories with McGovern, the assassin who he suspected killed his dad in the first book. Finn saved his kid. Despite McGovern threatening Finn to come down on him should he ever get closer to him again, he'll crack his ribs inside out or something like that. But they still have feelings for each other, Finn anyway, even though he knows should the Guvnor die, his life would be so much easier. Another thing the book deliciously conveys is the racism of everyday life. An honest, understanding dark-skinned cop named DS Amobi has helped Finn out in the past and has made some promises in this book, and one scene where he is undercover and being interrogated by cops foreshadowed this real-life event where my cousin shared on Facebook with me an event where a dark-skinned cop was undercover on a case and two other cops considered him a suspect. I was surprised how straight-forward Niall Leonard was being about how in London, the police patrol the streets to look for signs of suspicion but only focus on the blacks. Anyway, there's another incident where a group of these people are being chased by the police and are about to be arrested but people intervene. This event takes about sixty pages of the book, and I loved every moment. Because it got me thinking: This is what happens everywhere. But these people...the ones rebelling...what they're doing...they're monsters! These people were rampaging through the whole town, and though it was a lot of fun, it got me thinking: I sympathize with criminals in books all the time. But these people deserve some time in the slammer. The book didn't actually say that; I thought about it on my own. Only the greatest books make me put it down and think over the situation for myself. It expresses also how in gruesome London, everyone is subject to routine and is fine with being blown-up by a terrorist. They're scared of them but they know anything of theirs can be stolen, and not just the dark-skinned people. What do you think about this statement?
Another compliment this book deserves is not many books essentially make me feel like the protagonist is in danger. They can be, but it's hard to really make readers feel an enemy or a curse or an unavoidable future gaining up every second. Niall Leonard brings it ten-fold along with romance scenes that I've gotten used to in this series and this time feel more genuine. In the last book, Finn had to escape cops in a fashion that reminded me of only the finest chase scenes in the finest suspense movies. This happens again, with action you feel if you stop reading Finn will be captured so you can't, and in the ensuing chase there's also details that could've easily confused me but are polished up to picture it perfectly.
The twists and turns captured me at every turn and twisted me in knots. For instance, this tape Finn tries to edit, he notices a smile. A very tiny and demure detail yet one that screams a million thoughts. By the end of the book, I was crushed, burnt, and shredded. I then only found one thing Niall Leonard forgets about. Everything else screams at me to read it again, maybe even start over the whole series and think back to how Finn's suspicion of who his dad's murderer was had made him dive into this hellhole of masterful storytelling and exemplary head-on action. The last few sentences are also pure poetry, something schools can talk about for periods on end. I was a little sad to see the series end, and I was surprised by what Finn decides to do, but, I think I'm going to stop here. I could go on about this book for hours.
This is an outstanding novel, on par with my most favourite reads and has the potential to carry the entire series single-handedly into the minds of every reader who comes across it.