Lockdown by Peter May

About the Book:

‘They said that twenty-five percent of the population would catch the flu. Between seventy and eight percent of them would die. He had been directly exposed to it, and the odds weren’t good.’


London, the epicenter of a global pandemic, is a city in lockdown. Violence and civil disorder simmer. Martial law has been imposed. No-one is safe from the deadly virus that has already claimed thousands of victims. Health and emergency services are overwhelmed.


At a building site for a temporary hospital, construction workers find a bag containing the rendered bones of a murdered child. A remorseless killer has been unleashed on the city; his mission is to take all measures necessary to prevent the bones from being identified.


D.I. Jack MacNeil, counting down the hours on his final day with the Met, is sent to investigate. His career is in ruins, his marriage over and his own family touched by the virus. Sinister forces are tracking his every move, prepared to kill again to conceal the truth. Which will stop him first – the virus or the killers?

Written over fifteen years ago, this prescient, suspenseful thriller is set against a backdrop of a capital city in quarantine, and explores human experience in the grip of a killer virus.

My Review:

When I saw that this book was being released, I was in two minds about it. On the one hand, how could it be more timely? On the other, was it too close to the bone, as we all struggle through these difficult times? But I wanted to give it a try.

I’ve never read a book by this author and I feel I’ve missed out. The writing is superb. It’s beautifully written, and his ability to create atmosphere is clear. The descriptions of the empty city are so evocative, and the eerie atmosphere is heightened by the weather, cold and foggy and dark. The characterisation is so authentic, with very relatable characters.

The scenario of the pandemic is chilling, but at the heart of the plot is the crime to be solved, the murder of a child. The two dovetail perfectly.

This book manages to combine the genres of thriller, police procedural and dystopian fiction into one chilling and gripping read. This is a book that will stay with me for quite a while.

I found it fascinating, on reading the foreword, that it was written 15 years ago, but considered too unrealistic. Thankfully, the scenario painted here is much worse than the reality that we’re experiencing at the moment, but there are many parallels.

Really worth a read, it’s above all else an excellent book. Highly recommended.

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

A Note From the Author:

There was a time around fifteen years ago when I could not find a publisher for anything I wrote. One book was set in a London, which was at the epicentre of a global pandemic. It was a city in total lockdown. A virus was claiming thousands of lives. The scenario I described wasn’t drawn from my imagination. It was based on detailed pandemic planning done by both the British and the Americans in the early 2000s.

The literary establishment was highly sceptical. It was unrealistic. A lockdown could never happen in modern day Britain. No-one would publish it.⁣

I had forgotten about my book. It wasn’t until a reader suggested that I write a thriller set against the backdrop of a Coronavirus lockdown that I realised that I had already done just that. Suddenly what I had written in 2005 was no longer ‘OTT’. It was actually happening.⁣

When I originally wrote Lockdown no-one could identify with it. Now everyone can. It is our common experience. And isn’t that what writers are meant to do – describe and explore the human condition, the world we experience as a human race? – Peter May, March 2020.


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