More by Andrew Harris – 2020

A cure for a deadly epidemic, a religious leader rallying all to empower women to turn the tide on endless population growth – who is determined to stop both these worthy initiatives? And what does the murder of a star soccer player, an off-the-grid religious cult, and a pet food manufacturer, have to do with the plan?

Hannah and Lawrence and their partner Kitty announce an effective treatment for a deadly disease. Hannah and Lawrence are also excited about their upcoming nuptials. But not long after the wedding ceremony, Kitty’s fiancé Anderson, who has an addiction problem, comes to a rather sticky end. Hannah reluctantly leaves Kitty and goes with Lawrence to spend their honeymoon in Rio. Kitty is left to mind the business and Hannah and Lawrence’s dog, who has been reacting strangely to his new dog food. And then an even bigger problem descends on the research company. Meanwhile things are going well in Rio, Hannah has an invitation for an audience with the Pope, whose visit will coincide with Carnival, and Lawrence is scheduled to watch a soccer match with no less than Pelé. Then things start to go perilously wrong.

In the UK, Detective Sergeant Steve Mole and Maria Li, forensic technologist, are looking into the gruesome murder of a research scientist. Their investigation takes them in strange directions, with them ending up on a remote island, home to the The Church of The Perfect Love community. Their questions are initially met with relative civility, but then things start taking a nosedive and they find themselves headed to Rio on a vessel with some dangerous cargo. Later we find out that back in the U.S., Kitty is on the trail of a suspect linked to the attacks on the business, and that trail leads … to Rio.

The structure of More is very clever and effective, with most of the book being two chunks of the two stories, then as we speed up to the denouement, the stories alternate, first by chapter, then by section, adding to the tension. There are all the elements of a good thriller, kidnapping, protagonists not sure who to trust, helicopter rescues, and the blowing up of significant buildings and public monuments.

The themes of the book are the mindless destructive consumption of resources and of unhealthy food, overpopulation, and the tendency of humans to become addicted to what harms them. The destruction of the Amazon rainforest to make way for beef farms to meet the ever-growing U.S. craving for burgers, is a common story, but in More it is given a more sinister twist. And there is a suspicion that corporate greed is behind a lot of the mayhem, after all if you make your money from ill people you don’t want them to get healthy: “I’ve no doubt some drug companies would kill to preserve their market share”, but there is also the individual hubris that goes along with religious fanaticism to consider.

The religious conspiracy involves ‘angels’ who use the apocryphal Book of Enoch as their inspiration. A short while ago it might all have seemed a bit far-fetched. But given our current situation with the willingness of so many to believe dangerous conspiracy theories lightly clothed as religious righteousness, it almost sounds feasible! More is part three of the The Human Spirit Series, and there are plenty of links throughout for those who have read the first two installments, but it can be read as a standalone novel. I found it thrilling and thought-provoking.

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