This is a tightly written, pacy read which draws you quickly into an engaging plot. The style is crisp and confident. The author has a wonderful eye for detail. His descriptions are meticulously observed and, cumulatively, build a strong and believable sense of place. The action moves from Germany to the UK and back. I felt, though, that there could be more to differentiate the German settings, or to characterise Karl as more distinctly Germanic when he is in the UK. The purpose of this multinationalism does not become fully clear until the end of the book, when not only the plotline but the wider issues of violence, terrorism and protest are thrown into sharp perspective.
The lead character, Karl, psychologically damaged following his experiences in the London tube bombing, is sensitively portrayed. His emotional journey from numb aftershock, through depression, lonliness, withdrawal through to acceptance is told through his interactions (or lack of them) with the other characters. No brooding, self-indulgent navel-gazing here.
The female characters ring less true. I found myself sympathising with the irritable, neglected former girlfriend, which I suspect wasn't what the author intended. When salvation for Karl appears in the form of Lucia, a pneumatic, sexually assertive, Italian bombshell, I wondered if we had strayed into an erotic fantasy novel. Why would a woman so drop-dead gorgeous bother to spend time with a no-hoper like Karl? Either she could see something in him that we couldn't, or else she herself had issues and needs (other than sexual) that Karl in some way fulfilled. Her character, dynamic though she already is, I felt, cried out for more development, more backstory, more rounding in places other than her bustline.
The blurb describes this book as a love story, but it doesn't fit typically into that genre. There is simply no URST. A little conflict in Karl and Lucia's relationship would rack up the emotional stakes.
This is a powerful psycholgical drama set against major world events which have affected us all. If it helps us to understand the dreadful aftermath of these events we should read it for that reason. And because it is a thoroughly good read.