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Sunday, 10 December 2017

BOOK REVIEW: Darkside Belinda Bauer

This book is a sort of sequel to Black Lands, which I raved about, but it was not in the same league. It's not a bad book, far from it but it seemed disjointed to me and I'd guessed who the killer was by the half way point - it starts out very well but it's nowhere near as dark as Black Lands and on times trends in cozy crime territory. And that to me was a problem when I was reading - I like cozy crime but this story seemed to want to be dark psychological thriller and cozy crime at the same time and I just didn't find it as compelling as the other books I've read by the author. There is a another book that follows on from this one, Finders Keepers and I'm starting that one immediately, but only because I know how good the author is having read two of her other titles. If Dark Side had been the first book I'd read by this author then I probably wouldn't contimue.

The next book, containing several of the characters carried over from this one, should be interesting particularly knowing what I know about them from reading this one.

















































Friday, 8 December 2017

Book Review - Faceless Killers by Henning Mankell

This is the first of the Wallander books - I knew of the character, but had never read any of the books though I had seen several episodes of the TV series (the BBC version) and I'd promised myself I would check out the books one day. And so this week I picked up the paperback from my towering TBR pile and vanished between the pages.

It's a very dark book and Wallander is a brooding character. There's not much joy in this book - everyone's so miserable, and the main character seems to enjoy wallowing in misery. Mind you he doesn't have much to smile about - he lives alone, eats nothing but junk food, and loses sleep because he's always dreaming of a beautiful black woman. On top of all that he has to cope with the fact that his father is slipping into the clutches of dementia.

It takes awhile for the book to get going, but when it does the pace really picks up and for all his flaws Wallander is a compelling character. The plot sees the detective investigating a brutal double murder of an elderly couple and touches on hard hitting subjects such as racism and xenophobia. These latter points make the book as topical as a newspaper headline.

Noric Noir is the current thing, and this book, this series rather is considered to be a blueprint for the genre. I'll certainly be checking out more in the series - in fact I plan to read them in order and have already downloaded the second in the series to my Kindle. I guess when I've read more of the books I'll know how typical or atypical this book is of the genre itself. All in all I enjoyed this book and am glad I dipped my toe into the Wallander series.

Saturday, 2 December 2017

Book Review: Black Lands by Belinda Bauer

After devouring Rubbernecker (see previous post), and finding it one of the most enjoyable thrillers I've read in ages, I immediately decided to seek out more work from the same author. And so we have - Black Lands, which was actually author, Belinda Bauer's first novel and very successful it was too, actually winning the CWA Gold Dagger Award. No easy task, particularly for a debut novel.

The book is largely told from the viewpoint of Stephen Lamb, a twelve year old boy who lives with his younger brother, his grandmother and his mother. He craves for affection from his grandmother but she has never gotten over the murder of her son, Billy who was murdered by child killer, Arnold Avery, his body never found. Stephen spends much of his time digging holes on Exmoor, feeling that if he can locate his uncle's body then his grandmother will finally be able to get over her grief, which Stephen believes will heal his family.  It's quite hearbreaking to read the inner thoughts of this young who spends his childhood searching for the body of an uncle he never met and things take a dark turn when Stephen gets the idea of writing to Avery in prison, asking him for help in finding the body of his long dead uncle.

In some ways the book reminded me of early Stephen King  - the way the  author pits the innocent young boy against pure evil is almost vintage King. Though where King's child heroes would be facing off against vampires or shape shifting aliens, Stephen Lamb's nemesis is all too real and far more down to earth - one of those monsters who really exist. There are other Kingsian touches too - the way Stephen's young life is blighted by a gang of bullies for one thing, but I'm not trying to suggest that the author is channelling King, but rather making the point that she creates child characters with the masterful sweep that King displayed in his early and greatest works.

 It's genuinely unsettling to read the correspondence between the young boy and the child killer, and the tension is ramped up as Avery plays a cat and mouse game with the innocent young boy. Soon we start to realise that Stephen Lamb may in fact become Avery's next victim. The climax of the book is incredible and as Avery stands there against the featureless Exmoor landscape, looking down at the young boy he is far more terrifying than any mere vampire or shape shifting alien could ever be.

Another excellent book.


Saturday, 25 November 2017

BOOK REVIEW: Rubbernecker by Belinda Bauer

This is the first book I've read by the author, and it certainly won't be the last. I heard the author talking about the book on Mark Billingham's excellent podcast, A Stab in the Dark. And the fact that the book was set in an area that I knew really well, prompted me to take a trip up the Amazon and click my way into getting the book on the Kindle.

What followed was several hours of getting sucked into the story - I finished the book over two evenings, the best part of a bottle of Penderyn and a packet or two of Doritoes.

The story is largely told using three concurrent story-lines - one of the narrators is a man in a coma following a crash on the A470 (Believe me that can be a bugger of a road), a self obsessed nurse called Tracy and the main character, Patrick. Though it is Patrick, a young man suffering from Aspergers, who really carries the book through. Personally I know next to nothing about Aspergers Syndrome but the character of Patrick really came alive in the story and I was left feeling that I had a better understanding of the condition.

What is interesting, and no doubt testament to the author's skill, is that Patrick is such an emotionless character, and yet he evokes empathy and a genuine affection from the reader.  He stands apart from everyone else - the only thing akin to love he ever really knew was his relationship with his now dead father, while his exasperated mother seems if not to hate him, then at least to find him intolerable. Her feelings are perfectly understandable in the context of the story, but then her reasons may be far more complex than they seem on the surface.

Patrick is an anatomy student and whilst dissecting a corpse, known as Number 19, he finds something that leads him to believe the man has been murdered. And this is the main thrust of the novel - Rubbernecker is a thriller with very little violence but plenty of scenes that will have the reader squirming. All in all I thoroughly enjoyed this book and immediately bought another by the same author (Black Lands) upon turning the final page.

I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a compelling, intelligent thriller and would liken the author's style to the psychological thrillers Ruth Rendell used to produce alongside her more traditional Wexford thrillers.

Quite brilliant.


Friday, 27 October 2017

October 31st 2017...FULL TERROR ALERT

Amazon Kindle
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Also available as a print edition

FULL TERROR ALERT

Sunday, 22 October 2017

The Reluctant Terrorist is about to go live

Get ready for the end of the month when the Reluctant Terrorist is set free. Chaos will ensue.

Set deep within the picturesque Welsh valleys lies the quiet village of Gilfach. Nothing ever happened in the village until - the peacefulness is shattered by a confusion of killer clowns and a full-scale terrorist hunt.


John Smith is an everyday sort of man with everyday concerns. He spends his time working at the local supermarket, walking his dog and arguing with his domineering wife, Rose. However, John Smith, thanks to a bizarre series of events, most of which were beyond his control, finds himself with the tag of Britain’s most wanted.






John Smith is the reluctant terrorist.

Both in print and eBook.

For Kindle and other electronic reading devices.






Monday, 2 October 2017

The Reluctant Terrorist

COMING SOON


Set deep within the picturesque Welsh valleys lies the quiet village of Gilfach.  Nothing ever happened in the village until  - the peacefulness is shattered by a confusion of killer clowns and a full scale terrorist hunt.
 John Smith is an everyday sort of man with everyday concerns. He spends his time working at the local supermarket, walking his dog and arguing with his domineering wife, Rose. However John Smith, thanks to a bizarre series of events, most of which were beyond his control, finds himself with the tag of Britain’s most wanted.
            John Smith is the reluctant terrorist.