Keep Calm is Mike Binder’s debut novel, but it is important to keep in mind that this is not the first thing that Binder has written. In addition to being a film director and producer, Binder is also a scriptwriter, and that experience has greatly influenced the plotting and structure of Keep Calm. This is, in fact, a political thriller that would very easily transfer to the big screen.
Adam Tate used to be a cop, a good one. Then, in a moment of naïve stupidity, he made a decision that would ultimately send him to prison. When, upon his release, a lucrative job offer comes his way, Tate knows that he has to accept it even if he can’t figure out why the company wants him. Now he finds himself in London to attend an important business meeting at 10 Downing Street – and, as a bonus, his grandchildren are going to meet their maternal grandfather for the first time. Tate, because he barely understands his new job and has nothing to add to the conversation, guesses that he has been brought to London for reasons other than business ones. But it is not until a bomb explosion critically injures the prime minister shortly after the meeting that Tate understands exactly why he is there. In an instant, he and his British-born wife, along with their two children, are running for their lives.
Mike Binder has created quite a cast of characters here, including Georgia Turnbull, the young chancellor of the exchequer (and heir apparent to the injured prime minster) and Davina Steel, the lead investigator in the assassination attempt. These women have done well for themselves in a world their gender would have excluded them from only a few years earlier, and now they have something else in common: capturing Adam Tate will advance both their careers to even higher peaks.
But all is not what it seems. If Adam Tate is not the rogue terrorist he is being presented as, who is behind the plot to blow up the prime minister in his 10 Downing Street home? Tate knows part of the truth, and he suspects even more of it. But can he keep himself and his family alive long enough for Davina Steel to figure it all out for herself?
Keep Calm is not the perfect thriller, but its weaknesses, let’s face it, are common to the genre: stereotypically evil bad guys served by robotic goons who do the killing – and enjoy it immensely; multiple last-second escapes; heroes who are repeatedly the only survivors in violent encounters with the bad guys, etc. But that is the nature of the beast. Thrillers, almost by definition, especially conspiracy thrillers, require that the reader be willing to suspend his normal sense of disbelief. Do that and you will love this one - and, you might just find it playing at a theater near you one day in the future.