Cosmo Clark’s controversial novel begins – necessarily – with a warning, asking the reader to put the book down straight away if the premise of the story is something they would condemn immediately in their mind. Make no mistake, then, that this is a book for people with a good sense of satirical humour.
Blue-Eyed Infidel is an action-packed and easy-flowing page-turner that deals with some heavy ideas with a disarmingly light touch.
It pulls no punches, and will certainly have shock value, but in this it is no different to other works of satire across the decades, from Orwell’s 1984 to Chris Morris’s Four Lions.
The novel – the first in a planned trilogy from Clark, a cyber security analyst and observer – is set in a dystopian future where an extreme form of Islam has spread across Europe, and the British capital has become the Islamic State of London.
With non-Muslim females raised in ‘slave pens’ to serve the whims of their Islamic rulers and Buckingham Palace serving as the headquarters of the extremist caliph, an underground resistance movement is planning its next move.
Meanwhile, the USA and Japan are embroiled in a cold war with Korea and China (China itself supporting the Islamic extremists in a bid to undermine the fragile ties between the USA and its European allies).
Chief protagonist is Adam Ali (the blue-eyed ‘infidel’), a Muslim whose circumstances require that he feign an enthusiasm for religious extremism. A ‘bean counter’ working as an accountant for the Caliph of London, he dreads being drawn into combat, and the book begins as he is reluctantly called upon to take part in a suicide bomb attack with none other than the Queen of England as its target.
The initial chapters of the book neatly flip between this dystopian future and the present day, when former military fighter turned kick-ass journalist Kat Clark is caught up in dramatic terror attacks and their aftermath, and develops a super-tough persona that could ultimately shape the future of the UK. There are some futuristic sci-fi elements, including Adam being fitted with some impressive inner-eye technology by the Caliph as he is sent on an undercover mission, posing as an anti-extremist fleeing the religious leaders who want him dead.
Politically-correct readers may raise a concerned eyebrow at the book’s theme, but this satirical thriller is not at all anti-Islam but rather anti-extremism. One of the book’s key themes is the relationship between the Muslim hero Adam Ali and the Jewish character Devorah, and the book makes the point that all religions have their share of zealots, keen to shed blood in the name of their god.
The book takes readers on an adrenaline-laced ride through tense action scenes, graphic violence and racy sex scenes (without giving away any spoilers, a section of the book involves a rebel female camp where men are brought in merely to service the women and contribute to the gene pool) and even a spot of genuine romance, and Adam Ali is an engaging central character.
While it takes on some seriously dark subject matter, there’s a lightness of touch to the writing that makes it a genuinely gripping read.
The book’s ending leaves several plot lines open, neatly paving the way for the next two books in the planned trilogy.
Writing under a pen name, Cosmo Clark brings elements of his anti-terrorism work into the novel, and does refer to some real-life terrorist atrocities, while positing some interesting technological possibilities.
A thrilling, and thought-provoking, read? Absolutely.