Reviewed By: Luke Croll - RAM
In his latest novel, Brendan DuBois takes us to a world that we might consider unthinkable. United Nations peacekeeping troops have often been deployed to countries such as Rwanda, Serbia or Timor Leste. Now, they find themselves travelling up and down the highways of the United States of America, the country crippled and broken by an enormous terrorist attack and an ensuing civil war. Samuel Simpson is a young Canadian journalist who volunteers to go to the US to be a record-keeper for the UN war crimes tribunal. As they travel through upstate New York, Simpson realises that there is a traitor in the team and that more is at stake than he has been told. Dubois’ vision of the USA appears nightmarish and shocking and he describes it well, making the reader think. We have all seen images of blue-helmeted troops at work in war zones, endeavouring to keep the peace, and have heard and seen the efforts for diplomacy within the United Nations. It is hard to envisage such devastation being wrought upon the US, but September 11 made many people much more aware of the dangers. ‘Dead of Night’ is told as a first person narrative and the choice of a Canadian to be the narrator is an excellent one. In the tale, Canada is untouched by the devastation, despite having only a land border separating the two countries. This makes the contrast between civilization and chaos all the more apparent. Some of his other characters are more clichéd, but nonetheless, they all have a role to play.
The plot works well and Dubois has written an interesting tale, creating an atmosphere of menace and danger as the UN team explores the New York countryside. There is no doubt that it would also transfer well from the written word to the big screen. The ending is left suitably open-ended, suggesting that Dubois could well see more mileage in this story. It could be interesting to see how the collapse of the USA has affected other areas of the world, rather than simply concentrating on one small area of the country – yet in doing so, DuBois is demonstrating that New York is a microcosm for the bigger picture. An interesting what-if thriller.
Luke Croll - RAM
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Luke Croll - Conference interpreter and translator