The Enigma Strain
Author: Nick Thacker
Length: 271 pages
The basic formula for a thriller is as follows: one loner, one love-interest, and lots of running. The Enigma Strain is your cookie-cutter thriller, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The premise is somewhat entertaining, if not downright ridiculous and unrealistic. The pacing is certainly fast enough to keep the characters moving and racing against the clock of destruction (at times even literally). In the end, there were no surprises as the day is saved and the loner opens up enough to attract the love interest. The fact that the ending was predictable just meant that it delivered on the thriller formula.
One of the weaknesses of The Enigma Strain is the sense of space and time. There was plenty of driving around to different locations, which made them seem like they were quite close together. However, the love-interest kept talking about flying, which made me wonder how far away these places were. If it took a long time to drive between them, there was a lot of time these two characters were in the car together that wasn’t necessarily alluded to. I know I can get irritable after a long time in the car, and the fact these two strangers weren’t at each other’s throats after a collective eight hours (or more) of driving felt strange.
While The Enigma Strain had all the trappings and accouterments of a standard thriller, it also contained many of the “wait, why?” faults that separate a lot of thrillers from actual reality. Some of these questions were answered (like why the main character is a loner), but others were frequently touched upon but never fully explained (like why the main character is afraid of flying). In the end, if you want a fun escape from reality, a good thriller like The Enigma Strain can probably fit that bill.
A standard thriller that follows the thriller formula, I give The Enigma Strain 3.0 stars out of 5.