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4.4 out of 5 stars55
4.4 out of 5 stars
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 9 January 2014
Although a work of fiction this is a story firmly rooted in facts.
Britain has slipped almost without complaint into being one of the most surveilled countries in the world.
Our every movement is observed and logged. All our transactions are noted. Our emails are read.
Is it too great a leap of the imagination to think that all these observations maybe linked and correlated into a database of our most intimate details?
This book was written before the Snowden revelationsabout government spying on our communications and it is all the more scary for that.
I shall now read Henry Porters next book and really depress myself.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on 6 August 2009
Intelligent and revelatory, The Dying Light is the best political thriller I've read in ages (and I include Robert Harris' The Ghost in that). I don't want to give too much away, but although The Dying Light is set in the near future the issues and plot of the novel are very much about Britain today. A superb thriller.
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on 25 January 2015
This is the kind of novel that has one cheering on the forces of good in their struggle with the State, an entity driven by a Blair-like Prime Minister and a Murdoch-like corporate baron. The last few words of the novel might disappoint some readers but the effective conclusion to the plot is gripping and shows Henry Porter at his best as a writer of political thrillers. And yet … .

There is no reason why the political thriller or any genre for that matter should not be combined with thoughtful writing and characterization, but “The Dying Light” comes disappointingly up short in statements such as "a night of erotic fulfillment" or "last night ... was wonderful" (once the two main characters get together, the pillow talk is consistently embarrassing) or "the anger smouldered like a peat-fire underground”. Characters are stock-types, though when Porter deals with ministers, mandarins and security personnel, it could well be that he is telling us that this is what power does to people at different levels; except that, he is as one-dimensional in his characterization of those who resist what C. Wright Mills called “the power elite”.

Henry Porter’s insistent theme, in other novels and in his fine journalism in “The Observer”, is that the bringing together of government and commercial data in an overall system, once, that is, software has been installed and acts in the background on supposedly distinct systems, “allows no private realm". One character adds that "this is the classic totalitarian nightmare of the twentieth-century, updated for the twenty-first century", before going on to quote Hannah Arendt. There is even a passing defence of libraries (currently under threat from some local authorities) as a repository of hard-copies and an essential resource for the researchers and activists in Porter’s novel in their battle against “Deep Truth”, that is, the system and its ambition to achieve total information control and surveillance located at the heart of the British State.

In wondering why “The Dying Light” is, at different times, inspiring and disappointing, it is possible to argue that the weak, one-dimensional characterization, as well as the occasions when Porter resorts to clichéd dialogue and summaries, find an issue in the conclusion. Optimism can be a false hope or an implicit acknowledgement that the ability to resist “Deep Truth” and the justification for such resistance need testing in a more tough-minded way. The current (2015) “snooper’s charter” and the context of greater surveillance -- as a more legitimate response than the armed intervention which was a major cause of the latest phase of terrorism – may well provoke in Henry Porter a new thriller that leaves readers less reassured than “The Dying Light”.
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on 8 January 2013
The Dying Light is one of the best political thrillers that I have read for a long time. It is both gripping and convincing. Furthermore, it is unashamedly a book with a message, but a message that we really should be hearing.

The book is set in the very near future, and depicts Britain as an utterly sham democracy. Although democratic institutions such as parliament, government and the civil service exist, in this Britain, the government, and more importantly the unelected and rather invisible friends of government can do whatever they like. This includes unlimited surveillance of their "enemies" and their elimination if necessary.

Porter discusses a whole raft of what seems to be draconian and totalitarian legislation before revealing in an afterword that every single piece of legialsation mentioned in the book is already on the statute book.

This book is not, as some reviewers have implied, an anti-Tory book. Rather it seeks to demonstrate that the apparatus of state has overtaken the political life of the state, and that regardless of the colour of the government, pretty similar abuses of power will occur as the Prime Minister, his government and their friends seek to hang on to and consolidate their privileges.

I would recommend this book to everyone as a timely warning not only of where Britain is heading, but also of where we have already got to.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 8 October 2011
I've just finished reading this book, having stayed up half the night to finish it. A great plot line with lots of twists, the parallels with what we accept in real life with a level of complacency is startling. The characters are well drawn - they have their flaws and frustrations but are ultimately sympathetic and have their own depth, being more than 'plot vehicles'. This is a well paced story that is exciting and well written with knowledge and intelligence. Great stuff ... Buying Mr Porter's other books now!
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on 9 November 2011
By far and away the best Henry Porter novel yet - fully realised, gripping, terrifying and (as of November 2011) worryingly prescient.

Given Porter's stance on issues of liberty it is ripe territory he visits in this tale of state intrusion of privacy, power grabs by the political elite, the use of the security services as a tool for repression, and the disturbing influence big business has over our elected officials. What really adds a frisson is the fact that this was written in 2009 yet the UK Porter describes now feels familiar.

I particularly liked the characters of Kate Lockhart, Peter Kilmartin, and David Eyam. The representation of John Temple as Prime Minister was quite close to our current incumbent at No.10, and the sinister Eden White character struck me as remarkably similar to a certain Tory party donor.

With recent events in the national debate concerning budget cuts, the usual scandals around ministers and lobbyists, violent protest and riots in the summer, and the ongoing horror story surrounding Murdoch and phone hacking it is with an almost reverse deja vu that I read this novel in the same week that it was reported the Home Secretary had stitched up the senior civil servant responsible for Border security, and authorised the use of rubber bullets against student protesters.

Be afraid.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 20 December 2010
An absolutely fantastic read. Totally gripping, I couldn't put it down once I started to read.

Although it is a work of fiction it is a totally credible storey which Britain must take care does not become a work of fact. It accurately portrays a world governed by laws that already exist and threaten our liberty.

Please read this book and take heed
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 7 November 2010
The reviews on the jacket sleeve say it all ... this is a very scary look at an imagined close future, entirely possible given current legislation. Well written, pacey and with well described characters I think this is an important novel, with warnings about where public apathy and complacency could lead us all. Buy it and take note!
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VINE VOICEon 19 February 2013
The average of reviews comes out at four-and-a-half - which I would have awarded had it been possible to do so.

Much of this tale of Orwellian menace is plausible enough. Curiously, the baddies seem more vividly portrayed than the goodies. John Temple is a prime minister, easy to visualise, presiding over committee neetings in 10 Downing Street that read very like the real thing.

But in establishing the effect of the conspiracy on its victims, the author tests the reader's credulity from time to time. However, once the basic premise has been swallowed this is not a book that could be set aside without finding out what happens next. And isn't that one test of a good thriller, which this undoubtedly is?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 8 December 2009
I don't normally read detective/'thriller' books but this got a good review so I bought it and thoroughly enjoyed it, even if it 'predicts' much that is threatening to our democracies just on the basis of laws we already have.
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