This year, I’m counting down the 12 books I most enjoyed during 2015. As always, they’re books I read this year but they were not necessarily published this year. But books never go out of fashion so let’s not worry about that.
David Shafer’s Whiskey Tango Foxtrot is the first of two books featured in this list that were recommended to me during my October book spa at Mr B’s Emporium of Reading Delights in Bath. Given that I’ve only read three of the recommended books so far and that the third almost snuck in to this top 12 is a testament to just how spot on they were in matching my fairly non-specific literary tastes to some really excellent books.
This book brings together the threads of three main characters – Leila, an NGO worker who stumbles across something in remote Myanmar that she’s not supposed to see; Leo, who loses his childcare job in Portland and descends into substance misuse, paranoia and conspiracy theories; and Leo’s vain and self-interested college friend, Mark, who writes a self-help book that, by sheer fluke rather than quality, becomes an international bestseller – who all come to the attention of a shady cabal. What follows is a sharply written pop thriller that asks big questions, ultimately: who exactly does own your data and what if it’s not you?
Whiskey Tango Foxtrot is on this list primarily because it is enormous fun. It’s fast paced and global, taking in Myanmar, Hong Kong, London, Dublin and the US, with car chases, mysterious assignations in airport lounges and an IKEA-based underground network along the way. The chapter set on a technology conglomerate’s huge ship anchored off Hong Kong – hundreds of minions head-hunted from Silicon Valley working away in its hull and a super server buried in the seabed below – is so James Bond-inspired, you half expect to turn the page to find a bald man stroking a fluffy white cat.
Sure, it’s completely far-fetched. But, if you’re anything like me, you’ll consume it in a weekend.