Review of One Bad Penny by David Smith

December 15, 2015

onebadpennycoverThis book has all you want from a book: intrigue, bad affairs, but above all, a very interesting focus on a burning modern issue: environmental safety and pollution of the sea and air caused by merciless companies that are ready to do anything in order to make profits. I am speaking about the book written by British author David Smith and titled: “One Bad Penny”. Ever none title was so as perfect as this for a book, because the title, exactly, describes the main topic of the book. This work tells about a big chemical company that has a very important plant in Wightport, a charming sea town in the UK, where people spend their summers.


This plant is seriously damaged and compromised and spills wastes and toxic compounds into the sea. On 27 may 2003, the main plant explodes, by killing thousands of people around the bay of Wightport. The person accused of the disaster is Gary David, the main character of the book. Gary, instead, is an Environmental Agency officer who, along with her colleague Emily, is just working on the case of the bad conditions of this plant. As of this stage, the plot splits into two important parts: the days before the explosion and the days after the explosion.

Managers and employees calls the explosion with a code name, namely the BLEVE, the acronym of boiling liquid expanding vapor explosion. That is an explosion caused by the rupture of a vessel containing a pressurized liquid above its boiling point. Indeed, the Bleve told in the book was just caused by the rupture of a vessel containing the liquid wastes of the plant in Wightport. Before the Bleve, as an environmental officer, Gary David threatens to shut the plant and move the entire conglomerate abroad, but the main chiefs of the company deny any attention to Gary, who at last has been accused of the explosion. At this point, readers wonder: Why would Gary David have done this, if he wished only to save the environment?

Gary is showed like a brave man torn between his work and family troubles. His wife Alice, indeed, is a career woman who perhaps joined to the new company which bought the plant Gary would to close. Inside his family Gary is weak and scared, but outside he fights like a lion to save his loved country from rubbish and pollution. It will be her son Sam, remained the only heir of the empire of the mother, Alice (dead for the Bleve), to be in need to prove the innocence of his father David, the latter has also died during the Bleve. One Bad Penny is a very current and touching book, with a quick pace of writing and well arranged plot.

During this reading I have perceived rage and frustration for the deep injustice that is happening in our world only because of craving for money and profit. Just think, the author describes this injustice perfectly when he tells about the uncanny decision a manager makes during a night shift in the control booth of the plant. The scene, as described by the author, seems real: the vessel can stop working at any moment, but this means all workers will lose their job and so, some of them, led by a manager, make the extraordinary decision to replace the disk of the vessel with a coin of a penny.

The coin matches with the sizes of the disk. But this event marks the tragic end of the plant that, effectively, will explode. I think this book is absolutely to read for its current plot and the high description of events and characters. One Bad Penny teaches many things, above all, to avoid profits at any cost and to respect every human being and nature. On the beach of Wightport, the first to die were fishes that Gary David discovers rotted on the sand and smelling of rubbish! All the plot of the book smells of deceit and lies, you can feel this in each chapter and this means the author was excellent to create a big, little masterpiece of reality that teaches us to say no to pollution and environmental destruction.

No Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.