Death is a Welcome Guest by Louise Welsh is the second of the author’s Plague Times trilogy. The first instalment was titled A Lovely Way to Burn. I had not read the first book but when a review copy of this second book arrived I thought I’d give it a go. As it turns out it is very much a standalone book and it appears to feature different characters from the first book.
The main character is a Scottish comedian called Magnus McFall. He’s the supporting act for a much more famous comedian at gigs in London when an epidemic of “the sweats” takes hold n the capital, and indeed around the world.
After a drunken attempt to stop a rape after a gig Magnus wakes up in prison. He has been mistaken for the rapist and the police are putting suspects directly into prison as the sweats becomes a pandemic.
Magnus has to join forces with a cell mate and break out of prison. Outside the prison he becomes aware that the death toll is rising and law and order is breaking down. He is focuses on getting back to the Orkney islands where he hopes his mother and sister have survived.
Along the way the book looks at the nature of justice and if law and order has a place in a world with just a handful of survivors.
Well, this was a marvellous book. A real genuine old fashioned page turner that had me gripped from the first page to the last. It is reminiscent in places of Stephen King’s The Stand or the BBC to series The Survivors dealing as it does with the aftermath of a deadly virus. But it’s well worth reading on its own merits.
Very highly recommended. I will certainly be tracking down book 1.
Death is a Welcome Guest is published in paperback in the UK by John Murray on 7 January 2016.
Many thanks to John Murray for my review copy.