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Curse The Day by Judith O’Reilly
About the Book
At a global tech gala hosted at theBritish Museum, scientistTobias Hawkeis due to unveil anastonishing breakthrough. His AI system appears to have reached consciousness, making Hawkethe leading light in his field.But when terrorists storm the building, they don’t just leave chaos in their wake. They seizeHawke’s masterwork, sparking a chain reaction of explosive events which could end the world aswe know it.Michael North, ex-assassin and spy-for-hire, must find the killers and recover the AI. But he can’tdo it alone. Hawke’s wife, Esme, and teenage hacker, Fangfang, have their own reasons to helpcomplete North’s mission–and together they unravel a dark and deadly conspiracy whichstretches right to the top of the British elite.Can North survive long enough to uncover the whole truth? Or is it already too late for humanity?
The bathwater was lukewarm, which was irritating after her punishing workout on the rowing machine. But it was good to pretend she didn’t have a million things to do in the run-up to this week’s gala at the British Museum. And after the gala launch? That was going to be mayhem, she knew that much. Esme Sullivan Hawke stretched out her hand, lifting it from the bubbles, her wedding ring and the diamonds of her engagement ring glinting. She wondered if Tobias was going to come home tonight.
The candlelight flickered against the white tiles, reflecting in the Victorian-style taps, and she sipped at the glass of golden Pouilly-Fuissé before balancing it carefully on the shelf in the alcove. The taste of grapefruit and almonds on her tongue. She loved Bloomsbury–the architecture, the Victorian squares; loved the apartment with its cornicing and enormous sash windows, and terrible plumbing. Tobias said they should buy something bigger and more modern, but he was always at work, so she was outvoting him. Locking himself in the lab and refusing to come out. She’d given up trying to disturb him, rather than face his gloom and temper. Ever since making his breakthrough three weeks ago, Tobias had been unbearable, although to his credit he had been calm enough when she broke the news about the leak of their medical tech.
These things happen, he said.
Let’s not get distracted.
And what exactly had triggered the breakthrough? She turned it over in her mind, considering it this way and that. Was Tobias right? Was it merely a question of momentum? Of reaching a tipping point? The media would insist on knowing the exact second Tobias realised what had happened. After the gala, it would be insane.
Syd was going to be huge. It was a historic moment, and she and Tobias were going to be household names. The very idea made her shudder, but Tobias would love that at least.
Enough. She shook her head. This was her downtime. She was allowed to put aside the future for an hour or so.
‘Syd, play Bessie Smith… please,’ she reminded herself. It seemed right now to say please and thank you. She’d never bothered before.
The unmistakeable trombone notes of ‘Send Me To The ’Lectric Chair’ started up.
Esme sighed. This had to be her least favourite Bessie Smith, with its tale of a wronged woman seeking vengeance, but it seemed like too much of an effort to decide on something else. ‘Thank you, Syd,’ she said instead.
‘You’re welcome, Esme.’ Syd’s computer-generated voice was as familiar as her own, not least because Tobias had used Esme’s own voice to tweak and fine-tune the speech technology he’d developed over the years. It irritated the hell out of her.
‘Syd, switch voice,’ she said. ‘Please.’
About The Author
Judith O’Reilly is the author of Wife in the North, a top-three Sunday Times bestseller and BBC Radio4 Book of the Week, and The Year of Doing Good. Judith is a former senior journalist with TheSunday Times and a former political producer with BBC 2’s Newsnight and ITN’s Channel 4 News.Her first Michael North thriller, Killing State was set in Westminster and was praised by thriller writersaround the globe.