WRITING STYLE: 4/5
ENTERTAINMENT QUOTIENT: 4/5
What is the story like?
The Cyclist by Anthony Neil Smith is a slow thriller which tells us the story of a cycling enthusiast Judd who decides to leave behind his life in Minnesota and join his girlfriend, Catriona for a bike trip in the uninhabited Scottish Highlands. Catriona and Judd meet online while working for the same company. They soon start chatting and become close.
When Judd first lays eyes on Catriona, he is smitten. She is simply gorgeous in a too-good-to-be-true way. Just like him, she has a thing for cycling and Judd can’t believe his luck when she asks him to come to Scotland and meet her.
But what felt like a simple bike trip becomes a dangerous adventure when somebody with evil designs and a maniacal mind starts following them. Soon they will be hunted for somebody’s sick pleasure. But the hunter and the hunted are separated by a very blurry line.
The Plot and Writing Style
The Cyclist starts on a very interesting premise. Just one look at the cover and blurb is enough to evoke the reader’s interest. There are two major plots in the book and both are well assimilated. The main plot design is compact. I liked the fact that there is a decent subplot which takes us back into Judd’s past life as a Navy SEAL washout and tells us his backstory. This story is told in multiple flashbacks throughout the book to break the monotony. I also enjoyed the particularly troubling backstory of Catriona’s childhood and her parent’s murder. There is a lot of suspense and edge-of-the-seat thrill there. The mystery obviously is revealed to the reader layer by layer as is always in the case of a good thriller.
The main characters – Judd, Catriona, Alistair and Cleaver are all fascinating. Judd comes across as a regular Minnesotan guy initially, but, his complete personality is only revealed chapter by chapter. His background as a SEAL washout and his passion for riding gives him a definite charm.
I also loved the character of Catriona. From the very beginning, she is a mystery. With a hot body and perfect looks, she quite surprisingly falls in love with Judd. She seems very eager too. But she still lives in her dead parent’s untouched and decaying house, doesn’t mingle with people much and seems to draw nasty stares from people wherever she goes.
The characters of Alistair and Cleaver were also equally enthralling. Alistair is a troubled soul whereas Cleaver is an unfortunate SEAL whom fate and Judd brought into retirement.
Entertainment and the Climax
The entertainment quotient of The Cyclist is decent. The first half is really good. The reader is always on the edge but towards the middle, the story gets dull. It picks up again later, but it’s not the same. In my opinion, a major character was revealed too soon and also the promised “game of cat and mouse” was not as per expectation. The climax was even worse. It was neither racy nor befitting. It was too non-adventurous for an otherwise thrilling book.
What did I like?
I loved the setting of a major part of the story in the Scottish Highlands. The raw and desolate beauty of the place is described well in the book. I also liked the idea of a cycling adventure. The grit and determination of a few characters were also worth applauding. There is something raw and disturbing in the premise of The Cyclist which draws you to it. The idea itself is worth every minute that you spend reading The Cyclist.
Who should pick?
Readers who like thrillers especially those revolving around manhunts.
Readers who enjoy fast-paced reads.
Readers who might like the sound of a cycling adventure in isolated Scottish mountains.
Who should skip?
Readers who don’t like a dull climax.
Readers who don’t enjoy gory details.
Can’t wait to read The Cyclist? Buy your copy at the link below.