The 20% Solution

Fiction - Action
338 Pages
Reviewed on 09/06/2022
Buy on Amazon

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    Book Review

Reviewed by Sarah Stuart for Readers' Favorite

The 20% Solution by Jeff R. Spalsbury opens with Scott Marklee, an investigative journalist, listening to messages on his cell phone. One of them, “the cabalists have betrayed me”, intrigues him. He is distracted by arriving at his favorite restaurant and finding all the occupants dead – not massacred, just… dead. The streets of Los Angeles are curiously deserted with apartment blocks blazing, unattended by the fire service. Carol Grimes and Buzz Connors, recording for television, find a baby alive in a house of dead people. The United States President declares a state of emergency, but what is happening? Why has the disaster hit some areas of cities and not others? The ball is in Scott’s court, but can he reach the Vice-President with vital evidence in time to save the world from destruction?

I read The 20% Solution late into the night, drawn in by writing that gives even minor characters a backstory in a few words, and inexorably led on by vivid portrayals of mysterious deaths. Rapid twists in the plot prove it has not only affected America but much of the rest of the world. China, the Asian countries, massive swathes of Europe – and that had me reaching for the coffeemaker, nerves on edge – but oddly, not Russia. How had they escaped a killing smog? This was much like the Covid pandemic that still haunts us, but people weren’t dying in their millions, but hundreds of millions. Jeff R. Spalsbury has created a powerful ten-star scenario to rival any Quentin Tarantino horror movie.

K.C. Finn

The 20% Solution is a work of fiction in the speculative and thriller subgenres. It is best suited to the general adult reading audience and was penned by author Jeff R. Spalsbury. In this chilling work that discusses culture, politics, and social change, we discover a proposed solution to the world’s problems: simply kill off all the criminals and perceived lowlifes of the world, roughly 20% of the planet’s population. But when protagonist Scott Marklee gets a message that explains that this mass-homicidal plan is not only being enacted, but is also wildly out of control, it becomes a race against time to find those responsible, and an antidote to save millions of innocent lives.

One of the features that really impressed me about this novel was how author Jeff R. Spalsbury sells readers on the allegedly utopian concept of a crime-free, drug-free, welfare-state-free world, and then smashes down all the oversimplifications of those ideals to get down to the reality of the situation. For a speculative thriller, there’s a lot of realism and relatability to the storyline, and this is further grounded by the close narration and believable portrayal of our hero, Scott. Emotionally tied to the problem by the fates of his daughter and ex-wife, Scott’s journey is filled with exciting twists, but also a lot of moral and social dilemmas that we perhaps don’t usually have time to think about in today's world. Overall, I would recommend The 20% Solution as a highly engrossing and thought-provoking novel that’s not to be missed.

Essien Asian

Scott Marklee is out on assignment when people suddenly start dropping dead around him. He is horrified to discover this strange phenomenon is happening all over the city. Barely able to escape falling victim to the strange phenomenon but not without consequences, he recalls a cryptic message he received asking him to come to Nevada if he wants answers. What he discovers is an insidious plot with far-reaching consequences. Someone is out to cull the planet's population and the only thing standing in their way is Scott's investigative skills. Scott must fight tooth and nail to save the world but the only assistance he can call on is a computer whiz and a charming British butler. The end of days is upon us in Jeff R. Spalsbury's The 20% Solution.

Jeff R. Spalsbury throws you into the action from the start. His writing style is direct and immersive, giving you the impression you are experiencing the events of the book just like the characters. The plot is complex in the sense that you may miss a clue or two if you are not adept at reading between the lines. The backstory is brief yet intriguing enough to make you sit up but the best part of the book for me has to be the realistic science experiments with the way Dr. Bruskie goes into the details of his creation. The 20% Solution is right out of the top drawer. By the time you are through with this novel, you will have a whole new appreciation for the term "fresh air".