Thrilling adventure as girl with mystery package flees terrorists

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 30 December, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 30 December, 2007, 12:00am

There are lots of quality conspiracy thrillers for adults in bookshops. The success of the Bourne novels and films shows that there is a large market for stories involving espionage, exciting chases and breathtaking plot twists.

In The Starlight Conspiracy, Steve Voake weaves all the successful bits and pieces of adult conspiracy thrillers into a heart-stopping tale for teenage readers.

Teenager Berry Benjamin lives outside the system. Her mother has brought her up to be unconventional at every turn. Mother and daughter have travelled around the United Kingdom, never stopping in one place more than was necessary. Berry has never been to school, with her mother educating her daughter according to her own standards.

When mum dies, social services step in to take over young Berry's life. But Berry goes on the run to get away from the do-gooders. But she has nowhere to go.

By chance, Berry meets an old man and, as in all good conspiracy thrillers, this encounter sets the ball rolling towards the main thrust of the story. Berry is crossing a road when a bus almost knocks her down. An old man manages to push her out of the way and save her life.

He gives her a mysterious package along with a weird message. When the old man is killed, Berry goes on the run again but this time she is being followed by a ruthless gang of terrorists who want to get their hands on the package. The chase has begun.

Voake sets up the beginning of his novel very well. Berry is an interesting character and the way she is pulled into the story is totally convincing. Where can Berry go with the package the old man has given her? She wanders into a pop festival and meets a young man called Ell. Both are running away from something and decide to join forces to discover more about the parcel Berry has in her rucksack.

The Starlight Conspiracy throws Nazi terrorists, high-speed chases, daring escapes and frenzied motorcycle pursuits into the hectic plot. Stretching all the way from the depths of the English countryside to the streets of San Francisco and the deserts of New Mexico, this book never lets the reader off the hook.

The relationship between the two teenagers adds to the credibility and excitement of The Starlight Conspiracy. Berry and Ell are brought together by exceptional circumstances and Voake blends their developing relationship expertly into the tale.

When the mystery behind the old man's package is finally discovered, it involves a massive conspiracy that could affect the world. It's exciting stuff and provides a perfect climax to this ingenious and well-paced thriller.

John Millen can be contacted on

The Starlight Conspiracy

By Steve Voake

Published by Faber and Faber

ISBN 978 0 571 22998 7