In a disintegrating and lawless near-future, a young man journeys north to a mysterious island owned by one of the world’s wealthiest men—and finds an entire new civilization waiting for him.
Ben is a painter from the crowded, turbulent city. For six months his fiancée, Cara, has been working on the remote island of Sanctuary Rock, the private estate of millionaire philanthropist Sir John Pemberley. Now she has decided to break off their engagement and stay there for good.
Ben travels to the island to try and win Cara back. After an arduous journey, he finds himself compelled to stay. But as Ben begins to traverse Pemberley’s kingdom, he begins to uncover the truth of the apparently perfect society the enigmatic Sir John is building. Is Sanctuary Rock truly a second Eden, as he claims—or a previously undiscovered level of hell?
Near-future thrillers don't come much better than this stellar effort from Murray (The Last Day). Painter Ben Parr lives in an unnamed nation whose monarchy and wildlife are in decline due in part to the changing climate. His fiancée, Cara Sharpe, has escaped the decaying city where she and Ben live for a private island community called Sanctuary Rock, which is owned and managed by Sir John Pemberley. Cara's letters to Ben, which have grown more and more emotionally distant during her stay, hint at "critical work" being conducted at Sanctuary Rock. When Cara fails to return home as planned, she writes to Ben that she will be staying on the island indefinitely to help Pemberley with his "mission." Alarmed, Ben sets out to retrieve her. When he reaches Sanctuary Rock, however, Cara isn't there, and Ben starts to suspect that she's been recruited for something horrifying. Murray excels at building a believable futuristic environment without getting bogged down in minutiae, and he wrings plenty of suspense out of Ben's increasingly harrowing investigation of Sanctuary Rock's mysterious purpose. This fires on all cylinders.