A Jar of Wasps, by Luis Villazon, Anarchy Books, RRP£8.99, 269 pages
This maiden effort from Villazon, a journalist for the magazine PC Format, is frustrating. A techno-thriller with a peculiarly British tone – jaunty and self-deprecating – it hinges on a couple of neat high concept ideas, yet it’s that little bit too flippant for its own good.
Within moments of receiving a mysterious parcel in the post, geologist Graham Trevennan is assaulted by Canadian secret service men, framed for murder, and forced to go on the run from the authorities. The MacGuffin in the plot is a crystalline rock of extraterrestrial origin and unclear purpose, one of many that are bombarding the Earth, all aimed at volcanoes and other weak spots in the planetary crust, triggering eruptions.
Apocalypse looms, but Villazon keeps his narrative focused on Graham, so we get only a hazy impression of the unfolding catastrophe. The novel’s science cannot be faulted, and it’s a fun read. Where it disappoints is in its inability to ally the parochial with the epic.