A Lovely Way to Burn by Louise Welsh

bookshelves: published-2014, radio-4, spring-2014, dystopian, first-in-series, newtome-author, plague-disease, series, medical-eew, london, lifestyles-deathstyles, britain-england

Recommended for: BBC Radio Listeners
Read from April 26 to May 10, 2014




Description: Apocalyptic thriller by award-winning novelist Louise Welsh.

At the height of a hot London summer, in which people are falling seriously ill from a highly contagious virus, TV shopping channel presenter Stevie Flint goes in search of her boyfriend, who has stopped returning her calls.

Louise Welsh is the author of six highly acclaimed novels including “The Cutting Room” and “The Girl on the Stairs”. She is the recipient of several awards including The John Creasey Memorial Dagger, the Saltire First Book Award, the Glenfiddich/Scotland on Sunday, Spirit of Scotland Writing Award and the City of Glasgow Lord Provost’s Award for Literature. In 2007 she was included in Waterstone’s list of Twenty-five Authors for the Future.


Episode 1: Hot London summer and there is something in the air.

Episode 2: Simon Sharkey is lying dead in his bed. Still in shock, Stevie waits for the emergency services to arrive.

Episode 3: Stevie has herself been laid low by the virus and, after eight days in bed, has finally recovered enough to act upon instructions left for her in a letter from Simon. She must deliver a mysterious package to his colleague, Malcolm Reah, at St Thomas’ Hospital.

Episode 4: London is in meltdown as the deadly virus known as “The Sweats” spreads rapidly through the population. Despite the danger, survivor Stevie Flint is determined to continue her search for answers to the mysterious death of her boyfriend, Dr Simon Sharkey.

Episode 5: Worryingly, it appears that she has herself become a target, attacked in the car park at work. Now she is pinning her hopes on the expertise of a computer hacker to gain access to the secrets she believes lie within Simon’s laptop.

Episode 6: Ignoring the chaos around her, survivor Stevie Flint is determined to discover who, or what, killed her boyfriend.

Episode 7: She has learned that Simon was working on a controversial treatment for cerebral palsy. Returning to his flat in search of more evidence, she makes another shocking discovery.

Episode 8: She’s discovered that Simon and his colleagues were developing a controversial treatment for cerebral palsy. Their company, Fibrosyop, was being investigated by a journalist who was killed in a street mugging a few days before Simon. The coincidence seems to confirm Stevie’s suspicions that Simon was murdered.

Episode 9: Searching for clues, she has sought help from Iqbal, an IT expert, to access her murdered boyfriend’s laptop. But now Iqbal isn’t answering his telephone and Stevie fears that something bad has happened to him, too.

Episode 10: While London burns, Stevie Flint closes in on two of her boyfriend’s medical colleagues, convinced that one of them is his killer.

Reader ….. Nadine Marshall
Abridger ….. Siân Preece
Writer ….. Louise Welsh
Producer ….. Kirsteen Cameron.

This is not going to be a popular verdict given those glowing reviews from flisters I usually seem to fall into step with, yet I have to declare this was an also-run set at tedium level. The premise is non-existent: Why did she keep on keeping on when Simon was just a temporary shag partner? Stevie was set for slinging her hook right at the beginning because he hadn’t contacted and she took the silence as rebuff – that right there shows the shallowness of the relationship.

It has been posited elsewhere that this was written with an eye to a screen production, however don’t save me a seat.

Still, on the up, where there is nearly always an up moment, this did keep me wanting to know the outcome at the end.


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