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Book review Book reviews Tuesday Book Blog

#TuesdayBookBlog ENDING FOREVER by Nicholas Conley (@NicholasConley1) Inspiring, hopeful, beautifully descriptive and heart-wrenching at times #RBRT

Hi all:

I bring you today a book by an author who always makes me think and wonder. I kept thinking about an author and blogger I know while I read this book, and I think she’ll know why.

Ending Forever by Nicholas Conley

Ending Forever by Nicholas Conley

Axel Rivers can’t get his head above water. Throughout his life, he’s worn many hats — orphan, musician, veteran, husband, father—but a year ago, a horrific event he now calls The Bad Day tore down everything he’d built. Grief-stricken, unemployed, and drowning in debt, Axel needs cash, however he can find it.

Enter Kindred Eternal Solutions. Founded by the world’s six wealthiest trillionaires and billionaires, Kindred promises to create eternal life through mastering the science of human resurrection. With the technology still being developed, Kindred seeks paid volunteers to undergo tests that will kill and resurrect their body—again and again—in exchange for a check.

Axel signs up willingly, but when he undergoes the procedure—and comes back, over and over—what will he find on the other side of death?

 https://www.amazon.com/Ending-Forever-Nicholas-Conley-ebook/dp/B09XW82CXT/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Ending-Forever-Nicholas-Conley/dp/194805194X/

https://www.amazon.es/Ending-Forever-English-Nicholas-Conley-ebook/dp/B09XW82CXT/

Author Nicholas Conley
Author Nicholas Conley

About the author:

Nicholas Conley is an award-winning Jewish American author, journalist, playwright, and coffee vigilante. His books, such as Knight in Paper Armor, Pale Highway, Clay Tongue: A Novelette, and Intraterrestrial, merge science fiction narratives with hard-hitting examinations of social issues. Originally from California, he now lives in New Hampshire.

www.NicholasConley.com

 My review:

I write this review as a member of Rosie’s Book Review Team (author, check here if you are interested in getting your book reviewed) and thank her and the author for this opportunity.

This is the third book by Nicholas Conley I read and reviewed, and having loved both, Pale Highway and Knight in Paper Armor, I was eager to check his newest work. His books are never run-of-the-mill or formulaic, and they don’t fit easily into a genre, and that is the case here as well. They also make readers question their beliefs, thoughts, and assumptions, in this particular book, about life and, especially, about death. Not an easy topic, and not one many books discuss openly, and that makes this unique book, all the more extraordinary.

The description included with the book provides a good idea of the plot without revealing too much, although this short book —which probably falls into the category of science-fiction for lack of a more suitable one— is not a mystery or an adventure story, and a detailed description wouldn’t provide true spoilers. But there is something to be said for discovering its wonders without being prewarned in advance. For that reason, I’ll only add that grief (as mentioned) and guilt are behind the main character’s feelings and many of his actions. He’s been pushed (by life and by his own decisions) to desperation, to the point of no return —or so he thinks— and the experiment he signs himself for offers him money, evidently, but perhaps something else, something or someone that will bring him peace.

Apart from grief, guilt, loneliness, depression, trauma, the nature of memory, family life, becoming an adult orphan, losing a child… if those topics were not enough to make it a must-read, the novel also comments on human greed, arrogance, and the immaturity and silliness of some of those mega-rich people who come up with self-aggrandising vanity projects, sometimes hiding behind the gloss of some future venture with commercial possibilities, or under the guise of research useful to humanity at large. I don’t think I need to name any names, here, as I’m sure a few will easily come to mind. And, of course, this is a book that explores our relationship with death and our reluctance to look closely at it.

Axel is the central character, and Conley presents him without any embellishments. This is a broken man, and although the story is narrated, mostly, in the third-person; we only see things from his point of view. The main story takes place over a few days (the ending, though, reveals the after-effects of what happens during Axel’s deaths and is set at a later date), but there are fragments in italics that clearly represent the memories of the character, and there are also brief interjections and thoughts we are allowed to see that come directly from his head. It is impossible not to sympathise with the character, because of all he has gone through, from early childhood onward; and the more we learn about him, the more we get to empathise with him as well. There are other characters, and although we don’t spend so much time with them, it is evidence of the author’s talent that they all feel real and complex nonetheless. I loved Brooklyn, whom Axel meets at the experiment, and who is truly his kindred spirit. Her little girl, Gwendolyn, is wonderful as well, and that makes their part of the story even more poignant. Malik, Axel’s friend and always supportive, keeps him grounded and real. Dr Kendra Carpenter is a more ambiguous character. She is on the wrong side of things, and her attitude is less than exemplary, but her reasons make her less dislikeable and more nuanced than a true baddie would be. We don’t meet the people financing the whole scheme, but that is not necessary to the story, as this is not about them. There are some important characters whom we only meet through Axel’s memories, both from his recent and from his more distant past, but they also become real to us.

The author writes beautifully. I have said already that this book probably falls within the science-fiction category, but not into the hard sci-fi subgenre, as it does not provide any details about the science behind the experiment. The novel is speculative in the sense of exploring and coming up with fascinating ideas and insights into what the other life (death) might look like, and the Deathscape and its inhabitants (for lack of a better word) are described in gorgeous (and sometimes scary) detail, with a pretty limitless imagination. Although the “real life” events taking place in the “now” of the story are narrated in third-person past, what happens while he is dead is narrated in the present (third-person again, apart from the odd moment when we hear his thoughts directly), but the changes in tense felt organic and in keeping with the nature of the story. Of course, one needs to suspend disbelief when reading such a book, but that is to be expected. I was completely invested in the story, and there was nothing that suddenly jolted me and brought me back to reality. Apart from the wonderful description, and the memories that are so vivid they pull at one’s heartstrings, the feelings of the main character are so recognisable, understandable, and so compellingly rendered, that one can’t help but share the way he is feeling, and that applies to both, when he is feeling devastated and when he is feeling hopeful.

Those who want to get a better idea of what the writing is like, remember that you can always check an online sample.

I struggled to decide what to share, but I decided to include the introduction and a couple of fragments:

 Dedicated to everyone I have ever lost. Every sunset precedes a sunrise, and what the dead leave behind shapes the future. May the memory of you —each of you—be a blessing.

 Here, Axel is talking to his father, as a young child. His father has lifted him on his shoulders and is showing him the lake.

…when Ax said that they were on the edge of the world, Papa said, “no, son. That out there, on the horizon.” He pointed. “It’s the beginning of the world. And it’s all yours to explore. To dream. Remember that.”

 “On the other hand, big machines don’t run unless all the little pieces work, right? And infinity… we might be small, Axel, but y’know, maybe we’re still totally vital to the whole thing running. Every decision we make influences every other part of it, I think. Even after we die. Might as well make the most of it while we’re still alive, I say.” (This is Brooklyn talking to Axel).

What a beautiful ending! Conley has a way of making readers experience the highs and lows of existence, of asking them to look into the abyss and to face subjects that make them uncomfortable, like death, but he always rescues them and offers them hope and a positive ending. And this story is no different. Do take the time to read the author’s acknowledgements at the end of the book. They offer an insight into the book’s creation and the author’s own world.

So, would I recommend it? Well, what do you think? Of course! I have mentioned the themes, and although the story is ultimately one of redemption and hope, there are some emotionally difficult and extremely sad moments as well, and it might be a tough read for people who are facing or have recently had to deal with some of the topics mentioned. I’d leave this to the judgement of the individual, but I’d say that most people will finish the book with a smile on their faces and feeling more hopeful and confident about the future.

Another great book by Conley, one of a group of authors I am happy to read and recommend without any hesitation.

Thanks to Rosie and the members of her team for their work and support, thanks to the author for another beautiful book, thanks to all of you for reading, and remember to like, share, comment, click, and always keep smiling and safe. ♥

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Book review Book reviews Tuesday Book Blog

#TuesdayBookBlog DOCTOR GLASS by Louise Worthington (@louiseworthington9) For those who like to dig deep into the workings of the mind (but notice the content warning) #psychologicalthriller

Hi all:

I bring you a book in a genre I read many books in. This is the first in a series, so if you like psychological thrillers, this might be for you. But it does come with a warning. Or several.

Doctor Glass A Psychological Thriller Novel by Louise Worthington

DOCTOR GLASS by Louise Worthington

THE DOCTOR WILL SEE YOU NOW.

Psychotherapist Emma-Jane Glass has prioritized work over leisure for far too long. She does whatever it takes to help her clients, and it’s bordering on professional obsession. When she publishes a controversial article about unstable mothers murdering their children, an anonymous letter arrives on her doorstep:

I will expose you.
Then, I will mutilate you…
Wait for me.

After she is abducted into the night, Doctor Glass finds herself at the mercy of a dangerous sociopath. But being a relentless doctor of the mind, she feels an urge to help her fragile captor, even if it might shatter her sanity—and her life. It becomes a game of survival, and only one mind can win.

For fans of deeply layered thrillers by Ruth Ware, Tana French, and Alex Michaelides comes the newest voice in psychological fiction.

CONTENT GUIDANCE: This novel explores aspects of psychology and mental health and contains depictions of self-harm, alcohol abuse, eating disorders, and suicide. Please read with care.

 Link to the book:

Doctor Glass: A Psychological Thriller Novel

Link to the publisher’s website:

https://www.tckpublishing.com/

Author Louise Worthington

About the author:
Louise Worthington writes psychological fiction for fans of deeply layered thrillers by Ruth Ware, Tana French and Alex Michaelides. She has a passion for exploring the complexity and darker side of the human heart in tales imbued with strong emotional themes and atmospheric settings from poisonous gardens, medieval dungeons to an isolated property by the sea. Common themes are family, motherhood, making money from murder and revenge. 

She is the author of six novels, including Rachel’s Garden and The Entrepreneur, and the gothic horror, Rosie Shadow

 Author’s website:

https://louiseworthington.co.uk/

My review:

I thank Maria from TCK Publishing for providing me with an ARC copy of this novel, which I freely chose to review. This novel had been published before, but this is a new revised edition.

I was intrigued by the premise of the novel (having worked in mental health, I am always interested in seeing how the subject is portrayed), and although the author has published a number of books before, this is the first time I read her work. This is intended to be the first in a series, and I suspect it won’t be the last one I read.

The book’s description offers enough clues as to the story’s content, and I don’t want to spoil it for any future readers by adding too many details. The content guidance also hints at some of the themes. This is a novel that deals with topics that many people might find upsetting or disturbing. Although this is not unusual with psychological thrillers, be warned that this novel is pretty open and honest in its depiction of extreme behaviours (self-harm, abusive relationships, murder/suicide, filicide, somewhat unusual sexual preferences, eating disorders, co-dependency…) and a variety of mental health problems (PTSD, pathological grief, personality disorder, Stockholm Syndrome…) This is not a sanitised version of any of those problems, and readers need to be aware of that. (I worked as a psychiatrist and have seen my share of things, although, thankfully, not everything that goes on in the book, and I didn’t find it disturbing, but I am not the standard reader, so do take the warnings seriously). Oh, I almost forgot to mention that there is a touch of the supernatural/paranormal as well.

I am always interested in the therapist in the novels featuring one, and Emma-Jane Glass is a woman totally dedicated to her work, who at first appears very professional and self-confident, but what she goes through makes her question much of what she thought was certain. Her experiences and thought processes, although extreme (I won’t mention suspension of disbelief, because we all know this is a novel, after all), rang true (not that I’ve ever met a therapist who regularly uses hypnosis in my professional capacity, but then I’ve always worked in hospitals, mostly for the NHS, so it might be more common in private practice), although I missed knowing more about her, where she came from, and her background. We only learn about her friendship with Lucy, who has an office next door and works as a nutritionist, and we also hear about her supervisor, Celia (whom we never meet until very close to the end), but there is nothing else of a personal nature. The story is narrated in the third person, mostly from Dr Glass’s point of view but not exclusively, although that does not help us understand who she is, beyond her professional identity and interest. (It does give us some interesting insights into the minds of some of the minor characters, though). This being a series, it is possible that those aspects will be developed in other books, but I missed that. Lucy is a likeable character, full of doubts and not as self-confident as Emma-Jane. We know about an important loss she suffered, and there are times when it feels as if her friend was living vicariously through her whilst trying to help her at the same time (as Dr Glass seems to be more involved in Lucy’s life than interested in having a private life of her own). I liked her, but I wasn’t sure the relationship between the two was sufficiently developed either.

I don’t want to go into too much detail talking about other characters. The main antagonist (whom I wouldn’t define as a standard baddie) does terrible things, but he has also gone through some soul-destroying suffering, and he is evidently very disturbed. Although his emotions and his most extreme behaviours come across as pretty realistic, there are elements of his characterization I wasn’t too sure about, but I don’t think anybody will feel indifferent about him. There are some other characters that make an appearance, and I was particularly moved by the story of one of Dr Glass’s patients, Vanessa, and her experience of grief. Some reviewers found the details about the sessions, both Dr Glass’s and Lucy’s, unnecessary, as they felt they detracted from the main story. Apart from my personal interest in the subject, I did think that the sessions help give us a better understanding of the thought processes of the protagonists, and also illustrate the kind of strain and pressures they are subject to, which go some way to explaining how they react at times. The rest of the characters are not fully developed, and there are a few things readers will be left wondering about, but that is not necessarily a bad thing.

The author writes beautifully, and there are lyrical passages, vibrant images, and masterful use of metaphors, which contrast with the darkness of some of the content while offering readers a reprieve and mirroring how the mind works, finding beauty in unexpected places and in extreme situations sometimes, as a self-defense mechanism and refuge. Some parts of the novel move at a faster pace than others, and, in general, the action picks up speed as the story develops, until almost the very end. There is an unexplained prologue, which many readers have complained about, and although it seems related to one of the topics that appear in the novel, it is not fully contained by it, and it made me wonder.

As usual, I recommend checking a sample of the novel if readers are not sure if it might suit their taste (making sure to heed the warnings first), but I thought I’d share a couple of examples of some of the content I’ve highlighted, to give you a small taste:

She finds the quietness of Vanessa’s sad smile moving, and she respects the way she wears her pain like glass: transparent, fragile. So brave, to not wear a brave face; to wear a real, feeling one.

 She watches a spider slowly crawl across the ceiling and onto the lampshade, sprinkling dust like dandruff. All that ceiling, all those walls, they’re like acres, countries, to a spider. Such freedom. Here she sits, trapped in a web. The spider’s unhurried movement stirs the mounting hysteria building inside her.

I have already mentioned that some things are left to readers’ imaginations, although the main story has an ending, and one pretty satisfying, at least for the main character. Considering the amount of time and detail dedicated to developing the story, I felt the ending was a bit rushed, but as this is a series, such things are likely to get balanced out in the future.

This is an enticing opening to a new series, one that promises to dig deep into psychological subjects, and if the characters keep growing, it will become even more compelling. I’d recommend it to readers looking for psychological thrillers that don’t mind digging deep into dark subjects, but please, make sure to check the content guidance.

Thanks to Maria, to the publishers, and to the author for this novel, thanks to all of you for reading, and remember to like, share, comment, click, review, and especially, don’t forget to keep smiling and keep safe. 

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Book review Book reviews Tuesday Book Blog

#TuesdayBookBlog GOLEM by PD Alleva (@PdallevaAuthor) Horror, myths, and psychological insights #RBRT #horror

Hi all:

I bring you a book for those of you who enjoy horror and are interested in stories based on myths.

Golem by PD Alleva

Golem by PD Alleva

“An extraordinary psychological horror book. Excellently written, with a twisted, spiraling, unexpected end that will leave you speechless.” ~ TBM Horror Experts

Detective. Angel. Victim. Devil.

A haunting tale of suspense, loss, isolation, contempt, and fear.

On November 1, 1951, war hero John Ashton was promoted to detective. His first assignment: find the district attorney’s missing daughter. But his only lead is Alena Francon, a high society sculptor and socialite committed to Bellevue’s psychiatric facility. 

Alena has a story for the new detective. A story so outlandish John Ashton refuses to heed the warning. Alena admits to incarnating Golem, a demonic force, into her statue. A devil so profound he’s infiltrated every part of New York’s infrastructure. Even worse, he uses children to serve as bodily hosts for his demonic army, unleashing a horde of devils into our world. 

When Alena’s confidant, Annette Flemming, confirms the existence of Golem, John is sent on a collision course where fate and destiny spiral into peril, and the future of the human race hangs in the balance. 

The Devil Is In The Details!

Fans of The Silence of the Lambs, Clive Barker, John Connolly, old Stephen King, and Anne Rice will be fascinated by this edge of your seat psychological horror thriller with a story that rips out the heart of humanity and throws it on a slab to be feasted on. 

https://www.amazon.com/Golem-PD-Alleva-ebook/dp/B09CV5823C/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Golem-PD-Alleva-ebook/dp/B09CV5823C/

https://www.amazon.es/Golem-PD-Alleva-ebook/dp/B09CV5823C/

Author PD Alleva

About the author:

PD Alleva writes thrillers. Whether those thrillers are a Sci-Fi Fantasy about Alien Vampires attempting to subjugate the human race, or steeped in a haunting horror novel, or an urban fantasy with supernatural themes, PD always provides readers with a profound, entertaining, and satisfying reader experience, in a new genre he has coined as alternative fiction. His novels blend mystery, conspiracy, psychology, and action with the supernatural, horror, fantasy, and science fiction. Alternative fiction is PD’s attempt at describing what readers uncover in any one of his books, a new discovery towards mainstream storytelling. He’s been writing since childhood, creating and developing stories with brash and impactful concepts he describes are metaphors for the shifting energies that exist in the universe. PD lives inside of his own universe, working diligently on the Sci-Fi/Fantasy series, The Rose Vol. II, the urban fantasy novella series, Girl on a Mission, and Jigglyspot and the Zero Intellect, PD’s upcoming horror thriller.

I’m also sort of a social media enthusiast! You can find me basically everywhere on the net.

Visit my website here: https://pdalleva.com

Join the PD Alleva Reader Group and Book Club: https://www.facebook.com/groups/pdsthrillerreadsandbookclub

Here’s my Instagram where I post pictures of books, current reads, and daily writers life pics:

https://www.instagram.com/pdalleva_author/

My Facebook page is where I’ll post interesting articles on books, reading, movies, and comics:

https://www.facebook.com/pdallevaauthor/

My twitter account is where I post giveaways and promotions: https://twitter.com/PdallevaAuthor

Follow me on Amazon here: https://www.amazon.com/author/pdalleva

Follow me on Goodreads here: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7634126.P_D_Alleva

Follow me on Bookbub here: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/p-d-alleva

https://www.amazon.com/PD-Alleva/e/B073D1TQPP/

My review:

I write this review as a member of Rosie’s Book Review Team (author, check here if you are interested in getting your book reviewed) and thank her and the author for this opportunity.

I had never read any of Alleva’s books before, but I love horror, and I always enjoy reading something a bit different for Christmas, and this novel fitted the bill perfectly.

The description gives a fair idea of what the novel is about, and it is difficult to say more without spoiling the many surprises and scares. The author has managed to combine elements of a variety of myths and legends that have been adapted and used as inspiration for quite a number of stories before. Apart from the Golem of the title (from Jewish folklore), there are also elements of Pygmalion (the Greek original myth), the myth of Pandora’s box, and also elements of occultism and demonology, but without any heavy reliance on standard religious tropes or discourses, especially as pertaining to organised religions. To those who wish to know more, I recommend reading the author’s note at the end, where he explains the genesis of this book, his influences (he does highlight Frankenstein, as well as other classics and more modern horror stories and authors), and also his research and how he incorporated it into the final novel. It provides a good insight into the author’s process of creation, into his thoughts and motivations, and I found it fascinating in its own right.

As is the case with most genres, there are many subgenres and subtypes of horror stories, and some readers prefer some story topics to others, but I must confess to finding novels and movies about demons and evil possession, like The Exorcist and The Omen, among the scariest. I don’t scare easily, but this story manages to tap into the darkness within, psychological issues, post-traumatic stress syndrome, the worst of human weaknesses and vices, corruption at the highest level, and all kinds of crimes, some pretty extreme. This is a book fairly explicit in its use of extreme violence, with detailed descriptions of torture and abuse, with all kinds of victims (including young children), so any readers worried about violence, abuse, or satanic themes, should avoid it. (There are some sex scenes, although these are far less explicit than the descriptions of violence, but no less disturbing in that particular context).

The narrative follows a detective’s investigation, although it is not a typical police procedural, far from it. As tends to happen sometimes, the story ends up investigating the brand-new detective, John Ashton, as much as the case he is involved in. And, although I cannot reveal much, there are plenty of things about him we discover through the book and not all straightforward. We also get to hear about the world of the high society of New York and the Hamptons after WWII and also the events and places of the era, including references to real buildings, to cases of corruption in the city of New York, and to matters such as McCarthyism; we visit a psychiatric unit of the time and learn about some of the treatments in use, and their devastating long-term effects.

The two main characters are John Ashton, a family man (his wife is pregnant when we meet him, and he is happy to have been promoted to detective), who has survived some terrible experiences but is not unscathed. The other main protagonist, Alena, we meet in pretty special circumstances, but we get to hear her story in the first person, as she narrates it to the detective. She is fascinating, and although she appears to be an unreliable narrator to Ashton —as she would to any police officer trying to solve the case— we are aware that there are far too many things that challenge a standard rational explanation. Like John, she has experienced terrible loss, and she is neither all good nor evil. She is a victim of forces she does not understand, but she tries to do the right thing, despite the cost to her health and sanity. There are plenty of other characters as well, and Golem is the most important (and a pretty memorable one as well, with many sides to his personality), but I can’t talk about them without spoiling the story, so you will have to read it if you want to find out more.

The way the story is told is quite interesting, as it is divided into three parts and an epilogue, and there is a character introduced at the very beginning of the story, during Halloween in 1951, that makes brief appearances during the novel, but we don’t get to know how she fits into the story until very close to the end. The device worked well for me, and it kept the intrigue going without slowing down the main narrative. Readers get to meet John Ashton next, and we hear about his experiences and events in the third person, although from his point of view, even down to his dreams and his pretty subjective impressions and intuitions. When he goes to talk to Alena, she gets to narrate her version of the story (written in the third person, although, as is the case with the rest of the novel, from her point of view and with direct access to her own thoughts and feelings), although not at first. She insists she will only talk to Ashton, and he (and the readers) get to hear her pretty incredible story, which requires a large degree of suspension of disbelief, but no more than would be expected from this genre. In fact, there is an interesting way of explaining what is behind the mysterious events and crimes, and not one I was familiar with, although some of the characters that make an appearance are well-known within the subgenre. Readers who worry about head-hopping can be reassured. Although the whole story is narrated in the third person, mostly from one of the main characters’ points of view, it is always clear whose point of view we are following. The story is also mostly told in chronological order (apart from Alena’s narration, which starts in 1947, although towards the end of the book we jump ten years into the future), and the pace quickens at the end, with alternating points of view that announce a pretty dramatic turn of events. (And yes, I can’t tell you anything else).

I have talked about the descriptions of violence and events that go beyond the realm of the rational, and the author does a great job with those, without overdoing the use of bizarre or complex language, but can be typical in novels centred on those subjects, but here the choice of register fits the characters and is functional and not overwrought or heavy. At times I noticed the repetition of certain words, adjectives, and expressions, that became pretty noticeable, to the point of being slightly distracting, but the more I read, the more I wondered if it was a stylistic choice befitting the subject, with its reliance on rituals and ceremonies. It does not detract from the story, the plot, or the characters, which are the most memorable elements of this novel.

Having read all this, I’m sure you won’t expect me to be specific when talking about the ending. Yes, it is very fitting and it works well. Of course, it is not a happy ending (this is horror, after all), but considering how the story goes, I think it reaches a difficult equilibrium. And, as is my preference in this genre, it is not a closed and reassuring ending. Good work.

Would I recommend it? With the caveats mentioned above, I definitely recommend it to readers who enjoy horror and like new takes and twists on ancient myths and stories, and especially those who appreciate novels that dig into the psychological depths of the human mind. As usual, I’d recommend readers to check a sample of the book before deciding if it would suit their taste, and, I leave you with the author’s own nutshell description and reflection on the book, as I think it might help you decide.

Golem is a story about isolation, paranoia, and division, and, as unfortunate as it is, reflects our current society in a nutshell. Who opened the front door and invited the devil in? Well, we all did, didn’t we?

Thanks to the author, to Rosie and the rest of the members of her team for their support, thanks to all of you for reading, for being there, happy new year, and remember to keep safe, to keep reading, and to be happy.

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Book review Book reviews Tuesday Book Blog

#TuesdayBookBlog ALWAYS THE DEAD by Stephen J. Golds (@SteveGone58) (@RedDogTweets) A noir/pulp semi-fictional novel, dark, politically incorrect, and just perfect. A gem #Bookreview #noir

Hi all:

I am republishing the post about this novel because quite a few people showed their interest, but the book had been removed by the time my review was published. As I’ve been informed it is available again, and it has also changed covers, here I am sharing it again. 

What follows is my original post:

I bring you an author totally new to me today, although he writes as if he was a pulp-fiction author from the forties or fifties, so, not for everyone, but a fabulous book.

Always the Dead by Stephen J. Golds 

“Dare you read ‘Always the Dead’?

“I dared and I’ve been left reeling.

“This is the noirest of noirs. Truly shocking. Almost a horror novel as much as a thriller.

“Old school. Non PC. Violent. Vicious.

“From the gut-wrenching prologue, through the pornography of war, and the cracked psyche of PTSD, author Stephen Golds never pulls a punch. Neither does his black-hearted protagonist, Scott Kelly. Yet, amidst all the blood and guts and shit and vileness, is a dream-like use of imagery and language rare in stories like this.

“And the search for the woman he loves is as brutal as the language. Tainted love!

“Now I need a lie down!”

— Tina Baker, author of Call Me Mummy.

Los Angeles, California. 1949.
Scott Kelly is a World War Two Marine veteran and mob hitman confined to a Tuberculosis sanatorium suffering from consumption, flashbacks and nightmares from his experiences of The Battle of Okinawa and a botched hit for Bugsy Siegel.
When his movie actress girlfriend disappears, he bribes his way out of the sanatorium to search for her.
What follows is a frantic search, a manic murder spree, stolen contraband, and a briefcase full of cash.
A story that stretches from the war-torn beaches of Okinawa, all the way to the playground of the rich and famous, Palm Springs, California.
An exploration into the depths of L.A crime, PTSD, and twisted love.
A semi-fictional novel based around the disappearance of Jean Spangler.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B09JKZXZ9V/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B09JKZXZ9V/

https://www.amazon.es/dp/B09JKZXZ9V/

Author Stephen J. Golds

About the author:

Stephen J. Golds was born in London, U.K, but has lived in Japan for most of his adult life. He enjoys spending time with his daughters, reading books, traveling, boxing and listening to old Soul LPs. His novels are Say Goodbye When I’m Gone (Red Dog Press) Always the Dead (Close to the Bone) Poems for Ghosts in Empty Tenement Windows and the forthcoming collection Love Like Bleeding Out With an Empty Gun in Your Hand.

https://www.amazon.com/Stephen-J-Golds/e/B08TX1Q8TM/

My review:

I thank the publisher for providing me an ARC copy of the book, which I freely chose to review.

The author, whose work I’d never read before, describes his book as a semi-fictional novel, and it is true that the details behind the disappearance of Jean Spangler shared in the novel correspond to those available in what seems to be an open case still. It is also, as many of the reviewers have said, a noir novel, a very dark one, taking us back to the pulp fiction novels of the thirties, forties, and fifties, more Mickey Spillane than Dashiell Hammet, although the obsession of the main character with Jean (his ‘twisted love’, quoting from the description) brought to mind many of the authors and the films of the period, James M. Cain included. Some readers might be more familiar with some film-noir movies based on those novels (The Postman Always Ring Twice, D.O.A, Kiss Me Deadly…) and also with some later neo-noir films (I kept thinking of Chinatown, but films adapting more recent novels set in the same period, like L.A. Confidential share in the same aesthetics and themes).

The plot seems pretty straightforward. A hitman (hoodlum, heavy, enforcer, or whatever term you prefer), Scott Kelly —seriously ill with tuberculosis and confined to a sanatorium in L.A.—, discovers that his on-and-off girlfriend (an aspiring actress, starlet, and good-time gal) has gone missing. Despite the risk to his health, he blackmails his way out of hospital and starts a desperate race against time (he becomes increasingly sick as time passes) to try to find her. A reviewer mentioned D.O.A. and there are similarities. There, the detective is fighting to try to find an antidote against a poison running through his veins before it kills him; here, Kelly is dying of his illness, that’s eating his lungs. If that wasn’t enough of a challenge, he also suffers from PTSD (he fought in Okinawa during WWII, and saw pretty horrific things, as his flashbacks make only too clear, and to those experiences, he has added some recent traumas related to his work as a hitman, which only make matters worse). He follows some wrong clues and there are plenty of red herrings and incorrect information that keep making him waste more and more of the little time he has left. As it corresponds to the genre, there are plenty of nasty characters, betrayals, corrupt policemen, mafia bosses, illegal businesses (drugs), combined with memories of his past (good and bad), from his childhood in Ireland (before his family emigrated to the USA) and later in America, to the war, his marriage and divorce, his relationship with Jean, and some of his jobs for the mob. Although the story itself is fiction, many of the characters that make an appearance existed in real life and were involved (or at least were people of interest) in the case (even Kirk Douglas gets a mention).

The story is told in the first-person by Scott, and his is a very harsh, cynical, and bitter voice, although he can be lyrical and beautifully descriptive when it comes to thinking about Jean, their love story (that is not without its very dark moments), and also some of the good old times (although there aren’t many). As usual for this genre, he is sharp and articulate, although in his case this is fully justified, as he loved books and had planned to go back to school and become a writer when he returned from the war, although fate had other ideas. The chronological narrative, following Kelly’s investigation, is disrupted by detailed and beautifully descriptive (although often horrific) flashbacks of his war experience and other events, and these episodes become more and more prominent as his health deteriorates. Kelly is not a character easy to like. Quite the opposite. For me, it was a bit of a process. To begin with, we learn that he is suffering from PTSD, is very ill, and his girlfriend has disappeared, so it was inevitable to feel sorry for him. But as we get to follow him, see how he behaves and interacts with others, and get to experience more and more of his flashbacks (some that seem to put into question his own discourse and his self-perception), it becomes more and more difficult to find anything positive in him (other than his sheer determination to get to the end of his investigation). Before we reach the end, we get glimpses of a different Scott, buried deep behind his bravado and his hard exterior, but I wouldn’t go as far as to talk about redemption. I’ve never minded having a ‘bad’ character as the protagonist of a novel, as long as s/he is interesting and consistent, and Kelly fits the bill. Some of the other characters aren’t quite as complex as Kelly, although Golds always adds some details that make them memorable, and if I had to choose one of the characters as my favourite, it would have to be Rudy, the driver for a mob boss. He is, in many ways, the kind of person Kelly would have become if he hadn’t jumped in at the deep end, although… (Sorry, I’ll leave it there to avoid spoilers). As for Jean… She is a bit like Laura, the protagonist of the 1944 Otto Preminger film of the same name: each person who talks about her seems to have a different opinion of her, and we get a variety of versions: harlot, loving, manipulative, talented, beautiful, disloyal, caring, greedy… She combines the two typical images of the women in film-noir, the virginal maiden, and the deadly femme-fatale. Who she really was is something left open to interpretation, as we never get to hear her own voice directly. In a way, she is a figure that resists all interpretations, at least those of the men who knew her, and, in some cases, thought they were in love with her. What made her so alluring? Was it her skill at becoming the woman each one of those men wanted or needed? Perhaps.

I’ve referred to Kelly’s narrative voice, and the writing reflects perfectly his persona. I’ve seen the novel described as ‘retro-noir’, and if one didn’t know this had been just published, it would be difficult to tell that this wasn’t written in the historical period is set in. That means the book does not adapt or adopt current p.c. standards. Quite the opposite. There are abusive epithets used to describe all races and ethnic minorities (I kept thinking about Roth’s The Human Stain and the incident that triggers that story, because yes, that is one of the words used here as well, but in this case intentionally as a slur, even if the protagonist doesn’t see it that way), there is violence galore (in the current narration but also, and much more disturbing at times, in the episodes Kelly experiences in flashback), and it’s difficult to think of a possible trigger not included in this novel (I can’t remember specific episodes of harm to animals, but, otherwise, there is domestic violence, murder, rape, children’s deaths, various forms of abuse… You name it, it’s likely to be there). So, be warned. It is by no means an easy read. On the other hand, it is very well-written. The descriptions of the flashbacks are cinematic (unfortunately, in some cases, and I think that although this would make a great movie, it would require a very strong stomach to watch it) and the author manages to make us see and feel all the experiences as if we were there (even his illness); there are some exquisite reflections and use of lyrical language at times; some insightful and wise passages; some witty and darkly humorous asides; some fantastic dialogue; there is a beautiful symmetry in the overall story, and an underlying sense of fate/karma at work, that I really liked.

I loved the ending (I’m referring to the epilogue, although the ending itself makes perfect sense as well, and it is, perhaps, even more in keeping with the genre), but I can’t say anything else without revealing too much.

I’ve selected a few fragments from the novel, although, as usual, I recommend prospective readers to check a sample to see if the writing style fits their taste (although the above warning applies here as well, because the novel jumps straight into a flashback, so there is nothing gradual about it):

Pulling a trigger on people tends to change your world view. Conversation and small talk can be difficult and seem altogether worthless when you have seen how easily the human body comes apart, how simple it is to switch someone’s lights out.

One night I sat at the dining table until the early hours of the morning, listening to the sounds of the emptiness. I realized that I had survived the war only by returning as a ghost. A deal I’d made with the devil. A ghost that haunted my own home.

I listened to the sound of her high heels as she walked down the green tiled floor to the front entrance, thinking to myself that the women who are the best at walking away are always the ones you need the most.

Dexter was the kind of guy who constantly wrote checks with his fat mouth that his weak spine couldn’t cash.

This is a great semi-fictional historical novel, retro-noir, that I recommend to anybody who loves the original noir and pulp-fiction stories (that had their heyday from the thirties to the fifties of the XX century in the United States), films, or later neo-noir reimaginings, and don’t mind the dark aspects and conventions of the genre. This is not a novel adapted to current writing practice or sensibilities, and I’d recommend caution to anybody who is looking for a light, feel-good, and politically correct reading experience. The writing and the characters are first class, and the novel pulls no punches, so if you’re ready for a memorable reading experience and are not worried about the less savoury aspects of the plot and use of language, jump right in. I intend to investigate Gold’s writing further, that’s for sure.

Thanks to the author and the publisher for the novel, thanks to all of you for reading, and remember to like, share, comment, click, and keep safe and keep smiling. ♥

Categories
Book review Book reviews

#Bookreview War Trials. Investigation of a Soldier and the Trauma of Iraq by Will Yates (@Wil_Yates) (@penswordbooks) The many casualties of war and who should really be on trial #non-fiction

Hi all:

I bring you one of Pen & Sword’s non-fiction books and one that I think many people will be interested in.

War Trials. Investigation of a Soldier and the Trauma of Iraq by Will Yates

War Trials. Investigation of a Soldier and the Trauma of Iraq by Will Yates 

War Trials tells the gripping and in-depth true story of a British soldier’s role in the drowning of an Iraqi teenager in May 2003, the devastating investigation and resulting court martial. This narrative non-fiction tracks the soldier’s life from tight-knit broken family home in Merseyside through deadly urban conflict in the Middle East, to a different battle fought against PTSD while he awaited a military tribunal back in the UK. The military court case in 2006 marked the first of its kind relating to the Iraq war and a case that opened the flood gates of multiple investigations and inquiries into the conduct of soldiers overseas.

Based upon rigorous new research, this book’s untold personal story explores the horrors of battle and the chaos of a post-war city and a young soldier’s struggle against depression, suicide attempts and deep sense of being let down by the army he sought to serve.

This soldier would eventually endure numerous investigations and face the threat of the International Criminal Court for war crimes but these are the shocking events that started it all. It is the compelling story of a contentious military campaign with little preparation for the disastrous fall out; the soldiers pushed to the limit who maintained a wall of a silence after doing the unthinkable; and a floating body of dead child who came to symbolise a generation lost to war.

https://www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/War-Trials-Hardback/p/18969

https://www.amazon.com/War-Trials-Investigation-Soldier-Trauma/dp/1526796023/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/War-Trials-Investigation-Soldier-Trauma/dp/1526796023/

https://www.amazon.es/War-Trials-Investigation-Soldier-Trauma/dp/1526796023/

Author Will Yates

About the author:

Will Yates is a freelance writer, documentary producer and investigative researcher for television, film and radio. He has spent more than 18 years producing factual programming for Channel 4, BBC, The National Geographic, The Travel Channel and The History Channel. His credits include researching the 2005 BAFTA-winning Channel 4 docu-drama, The Government Inspector, about the Iraq War and the suicide of British weapons inspector Dr David Kelly.

 My review:

I thank the author, for providing me an ARC e-copy of this book, which I freely chose to review. I have read and reviewed many non-fiction books published by Pen & Sword, I am familiar with many of their titles and know of their interest in military history and related subjects.

As the description explains, this is a narrative that blends the facts about a specific case —the trial against guardsman Joe McCleary for the unlawful death of an Iraqi youth in 2003—, with a wider exploration of the circumstances of the War on Iraq, in particular, the UK involvement.

Joe, a young man from Bootle, near Liverpool, who never did too well in school (he suffered from dyslexia and never got much help) and saw joining the Irish Guard as his path to a worthy and useful life, gets sent to Iraq, sorely underprepared, he is overwhelmed by the aftermath of the confrontation and its effects on the local population and ends up on trial for a tragic incident, which seems the result of lack of planning and guidance at higher levels.

Yates does a great job of showing us what life was like for Joe before he joined the Irish Guard, his experience of the training (not always easy), and how different things are from the scenarios they were taught once they get there. The narrative alternates two timelines: one that follows chronologically from soon before the time Joe joins the Guards, and another one where we see what happened when he returned to the UK and was soon told that there would be an investigation into the death of Ahmed Kareem, a fifteen-year-old Iraqi boy found looting by the troops keeping the order in the streets, and who later ended up drowned. We get to re-live the episode, as Joe is tortured by flashbacks and dreams of the events he witnessed, tries to cope with what appears to be undiagnosed PTSD through the use of alcohol, and gets so desperate that he even attempts suicide more than once. His mother tries to get help from the military but fails repeatedly, and then, the investigation starts, and things get even more difficult.

The author does not provide a dispassionate and neutral account of events, far from it. He explains in the acknowledgements that he became interested in Iraq while he was researching a documentary about the Iraq War and the suicide of British weapons inspector Dr David Kelly, and the suggestion of a potential documentary about the investigations into British soldiers’ involvement in the Iraq War resulted in this book. He writes about his process of research and how he tried to obtain first-hand materials, interview all those involved, and how he accessed also transcripts from the trials (yes, because there were more than one, but you can read about that yourselves). But, it was his interaction with Joe McCleary and his interviews with him that made him decide to focus on him as the central figure, because he felt a connection and an affinity with him, and because his story was a memorable one, but, unfortunately, one of many. While the research shines through, it never becomes the dominant element, overwhelming the personal story of those involved.

The writing style is not the usual raw and factual many modern books on the topic tend to use. Some of the descriptions of places, and especially of emotions and feelings, are at times almost lyrical, and at others, so vivid readers feel as if they were there, sharing in the experiences of both, the locals and the troops. At times, it reminded me of Apocalypse Now, where horrific destruction alternates with episodes that seem almost surreal or out of place (training the troops for Iraq in German winter freezing locations; chasing after ghost-like radio communications and almost getting killed by one of his own mates; giving sweets to the local children; trying to adapt unsuitable protective equipment to their needs…). As the trial comes closer, the writing becomes more factual, but it still manages to convey the way the individuals involved felt, and how little support and attention they were offered by those they had tried their best to serve.

This is not an easy read, and there are many harrowing moments (both in Iraq and in the UK), but it is a necessary reminder to those in charge that decisions are not without consequences, that those who implement them are not just pawns in a strategic game, and that casualties affect all sides.

I wanted to share a couple of quotes, both from Joe McCleary’s point of view:

‘I was just living and breathing and wanting to die, every day… the trial itself, that was just like the war, that was like seven weeks of hell.’

 ‘But the lad from Bootle looks back on the years he gave to the army, gave to his country, gave to Iraq and he thinks we should never have gone out there, we shouldn’t have gone.’

I definitely recommend this book to those interested in the War on Iraq, and in particular, on its effect on the troops, and to those who want to learn in more detail what a war trial might entail (for those accused). It is a harrowing read at times, but as I’ve said on many occasions, there are things we should never forget and lessons to be learned.

I wanted to clarify that I read an e-copy of the book, but the author kindly sent me a separate PDF with the images, and those help understand the circumstances of what happened and provide an important document in its own right. I cannot make specific comments about the hardback, but I am in no doubt that it will provide an even better reading experience.

Thanks to the author and to the publisher for this book, thanks to all of you for reading, and remember to comment, to share, to keep reading, and especially, to stay safe and to keep smiling. 

Categories
Book review Book reviews Tuesday Book Blog

#TuesdayBookBlog DRACA by Geoffrey Gudgion (@GeoffreyGudgion) (@unbounders) Beautiful, eerie, and enthralling #RBRT

Hi all:

I bring you a book difficult to classify (I like those) and one I’m sure will intrigue a lot of you.

Draca by Geoffrey Gudgion

Draca by Geoffrey Gudgion

‘A terrific and compelling story which highlights mental and physical challenges that many who have served will recognise.’ General Sir Nick Parker, Commander British Forces Afghanistan 2010

Draca was a vintage sailing cutter, Old Eddie’s pride and joy. But now she’s beached, her varnish peeling. She’s dying, just like Eddie.

Eddie leaves Draca to his grandson Jack, a legacy that’s the final wedge between Jack and his father. Yet for Jack, the old boat is a lifeline. Medically discharged from the Marines, with his marriage on the rocks, the damaged veteran finds new purpose; Draca will sail again. Wonderful therapy for a wounded hero, people say.

Young Georgia ‘George’ Fenton, who runs the boatyard, has doubts. She saw changes in Old Eddie that were more sinister even than cancer. And by the time Draca tastes the sea again, the man she dares to love is going the same way. To George, Jack’s ‘purpose’ has become ‘possession’; the boat owns the man and her flawed hero is on a mission to self-destruct. As his controlling and disinherited father pushes him closer to the edge, she gives all she has to hold him back.

And between them all, there’s an old boat with dark secrets, and perhaps a mind of its own.

https://www.amazon.com/Draca-Geoffrey-Gudgion-ebook/dp/B087CCVKLV/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Draca-Geoffrey-Gudgion-ebook/dp/B087CCVKLV/

https://www.amazon.es/Draca-Geoffrey-Gudgion-ebook/dp/B087CCVKLV/

Author Geoffrey Gudgion

About the author:

Geoffrey Gudgion served for over 10 years in the armed forces, and made his first attempts at writing fiction during quiet moments on deployment. He later stepped off the corporate ladder, in the midst of a career in marketing and general management, specifically to release time to write. Freelance consultancy paid the bills. His first novel, Saxon’s Bane, reached #1 in Kindle’s ‘Ghost’ category, and he now writes full time.

Gudgion’s second novel, Draca, will be released by Unbound on 14 May 2020. Draca is also a subtle ghost story; a veteran with PTSD is haunted by his past, or perhaps simply haunted.

When not crafting words Gudgion is an enthusiastic amateur equestrian and a very bad pianist.

https://www.amazon.com/Geoffrey-Gudgion/e/B00EQF47UO?

My review:

I write this review as a member of Rosie’s Book Review Team (authors, if you are looking for reviews, check here), and I freely chose to review an ARC copy of this novel.

I didn’t know Geoffrey Gudgion before I read this novel, but the description and the cover called me (a bit worrying when I think about it after finishing the book), and my reward was a fantastic read that combines many elements likely to interest a large variety of readers. Draca, the vessel of the title, is a haunting presence throughout the book. Old Eddie, its owner, was fascinated by old Norse mythology and his Viking heritage, and there are fragments from the Saga of King Guthrum (c a AD 875) heading each new chapter and telling a fascinating story of the Vikings’ incursions into Britain and their battles with the Saxons. This mythological background and the story of King Guthrum and his son Jarl Harald moves apace with the adventures of Draca and Jack, Eddie’s grandson and new owner of the sailing cutter. There are adventures that will delight those who love sailing (but also those who don’t. I haven’t done any proper sailing but have a soft spot for books and movies set at sea, and I’m sure I’m not the only one. Let me clarify that although there is ample evidence of knowledge and research on the topic of sailing, no expertise is required to enjoy the novel). The characters and especially the relationship between the male members of the Ahlquist fmaily, make for fascinating reading, as we have parents and sons of different generations with complex love-hate relationships, and they relive their conflicts on and off the ship.

Other themes are also explored and add to the overall interest of the novel: Jack, the main protagonist of the story, was a decorated Royal Marine who was severely wounded during the war, and now suffers from PTSD and is finding it difficult to adjust to civilian life. His flashbacks and his account of his experiences are realistic and compelling (not surprising when we take into account the author’s background), and it makes him a particularly sympathetic character. We also have romance (although the two characters seemed made for each other from the beginning, and I’m sure most readers will enjoy it, considering the background of both characters it seemed a bit too perfect for me, especially if readers are expecting a standard horror story); a woman with a gift for healing and for sensing things about people; and a paranormal element that I felt worked very well.

I think the description offers more than enough information about the plot, and I want to avoid spoilers.  I think this novel cuts across a few genres. There are very realistic elements, in particular those depicting the psychological state of the characters, PTSD and obsession; there are also mythological and fantastical elements; paranormal/horror elements; sailing adventures; family relationships (a family saga, to a point); and a romance (there is some sex, but it is pretty mild and not very explicit, and people who follow my review know I don’t like erotica, so…). If I had to choose, I enjoyed the mythological/fantastical aspects of the story, the sailing adventure, and the realistic aspects, especially the relationship between the men, the most.

I have mentioned some of the characters already. The story is narrated in the third person, each chapter usually following the point of view of one of the main characters (Harry, Old Eddie’s son and Jack’s father, not a particularly likeable character and not somebody who evolves much during the novel, but he is not all bad either; Jack; and George, the main female character, who runs the boatyard and seems to combine characteristics of the caring female who would do anything for her man, with an independent and wise woman who tries hard to keep trouble at bay), interspersed with the Saga of King Guthrum and also, especially at the beginning, with fragments of Eddie’s diary, which help us understand more about the man and about Draca. We also meet Charlotte (Charlie), Jack’s wife, who is a very intriguing character, but her story is not developed in a lot of detail (and we don’t see things from her point of view), not is that of Jack’s mother, who seems to be an old-fashioned housewife and hardly has a voice of her own. We don’t see enough of Tilly, Jack’s sister, for her to play a part in the story (other than being a hindrance at times).

The writing is excellent. There are beautiful descriptions of sailing, not only of the act of sailing but also of the emotions it creates, and as I’ve said already, the psychological experiences of the characters, particularly of Jack are rendered in such a way that we can’t help but feel as if we were there, sharing in his anguish and feelings. There are lyrical passages that made me reread them again, and this is a book that combines an absorbing story that makes you keep turning the pages with a style of writing that demands to be savoured and enjoyed. I’ve highlighted many fragments, but I thought I’d share a couple to give you some idea of what to expect:

When the tide was just on the ebb it sucked at the beach below the cottage, a soft susurration at the limit of hearing. In the pre-dawn darkness it sounded like whispering, so human that he strained to distinguish the words.

Draca was a bit like some men she’d met who were handsome on the outside and dangerous on the inside. In that way, Draca was the opposite of Jack. He was dangerous on the outside but probably dead gentle on the inside, like he was wearing a suit of armour, or a shell, like a crab.

The ending… I think the author has managed to pull quite a trick there, because all the different elements come to a satisfactory ending (no, I’m not saying happy), and I enjoyed it, for sure. And it does not leave us hanging, so people who don’t appreciate cliff-hangers don’t need to worry… much.

The author mentions his sources (people and books) in his acknowledgments, and I was particularly happy to learn about Unbound, the first crowdfunding publisher, which made the book possible. The book also includes a list of supporters and patrons, and I will try to keep track of their future projects.

In brief, a great read, that I’d recommend to people interested in male family relationships, PTSD, and who don’t mind a touch of the paranormal and romance. Fans of sailing stories and those who love Norse mythology and Old Saxon history will enjoy it even more. There are some chilling and eerie moments, but the horror, such as it is, is mostly psychological, so this should not put off people who usually avoid the genre. I won’t forget Draca in a long time, and I’m sure if you read it you won’t, either.

Thanks to the author, the publisher and to Rosie and her team, thanks to all of you for reading, and remember to like, share, comment, click, review, smile, and always keep safe.

 

 

 

Categories
Book review Book reviews Tuesday Book Blog

#TuesdayBookBlog THE BODY IN THE TREES: A BOWMAN OF THE YARD INVESTIGATION by Richard James (@RichardNJames) Recommended to fans of historical mysteries and complex characters #VictorianMystery

Hi all:

I bring you the third book in a series of Victorian mysteries I’ve been following for a while.

The Body In The Trees: A Bowman Of The Yard Investigation by Richard James

The Body In The Trees: A Bowman Of The Yard Investigation by Richard James

Bowman of the Yard: Book Three

‘Wonderfully atmospheric, full of the thrills of Victorian London.’ Adam Croft.

Summer, 1892.

Accompanied by the trusted Sergeant Graves, Detective Inspector George Bowman finds himself in Larton, a sleepy village on the River Thames. A series of supposed suicides has opened up old wounds between the locals and a gypsy camp in the woods.

The detectives are viewed with suspicion as the villagers close ranks against their investigation, even more so when Bowman succumbs to visions of his dead wife. His sanity in the balance, it’s not long before he places Graves himself in danger, risking the wrath of the Commissioner of Scotland Yard.

Is Bowman in full possession of his wits?

As village life continues and a link between the suicides is discovered, Bowman finds himself ensnared in the machinations of a secret society, with a figure at its head who will stop at nothing to escape justice.

Soon, the inspector is embroiled in a case that began on the dusty plains of Africa, and ends at the gates of a lunatic asylum.

Richard James is an actor, playwright and author with many credits to his name. The Bowman Of The Yard series marks his first as an author. Other books in the acclaimed series include Devil in the Dock and The Head in the Ice.

‘A genuinely impressive debut.’ Andrew Cartmel, The Vinyl Detective.

‘Crime fiction with wit and twists.’ Richard Foreman, Raffles: The Complete Innings.

https://www.amazon.com/Body-Trees-Bowman-Yard-Investigation-ebook/dp/B08773VBYX/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Body-Trees-Bowman-Yard-Investigation-ebook/dp/B08773VBYX/

https://www.amazon.es/Body-Trees-Bowman-Yard-Investigation-ebook/dp/B08773VBYX/

Picture of author Richard James
Author Richard James

About the author:

I’ve been telling stories all my life. As an actor, I’ve spent a career telling other people’s, from William Shakespeare to Charles Dickens. As I write, I get to create my own!

I have written almost thirty plays which are produced the world over; from USA to New Zealand and just about everywhere in between. They’re mostly comedies and frequently win awards in competitions and festivals.

In 2014 I wrote a book, Space Precinct Unmasked, detailing my experiences working as an actor on Gerry Anderson’s last live action sci-fi series.

So, I suppose it was only a matter of time before I wrote a novel. I decided it had to be set in a world I would want to spend time in and feature characters I would want to be with. And most importantly, it would have to feature a grisly murder or two! I love the Victorian era. It seems such a rich period of history, populated by some hugely colourful characters, so that’s where I’ve started my novel-writing career. The Head In The Ice is the first in the Bowman Of The Yard series and follows the investigation of Inspector George Bowman of Scotland Yard into the discovery of – well, a head in the ice of the River Thames. Over the course of the book, however, and the series in general, we see he has demons of his own to contend with.

There will be four books in the Bowman Of The Yard series in all (at least, to begin with…), together with some short stories from Bowman’s Casebook. These will fill in the gaps between the novels, giving the reader the chance to follow Bowman’s professional progress and personal battles (he’s a troubled man, as you’ll see) over twelve months of his life. 1892 promises to be quite a year for Inspector Bowman, and I’m sure he would love to have your company!

I really hope you like the books. If you do, you can tweet me your thoughts at @RichardNJames. I hope to hear from you!

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Richard-James/e/B00NHSS6H6/

My review

I received an early ARC copy of this novel, which I freely chose to review.

This is the third novel in the series of A Bowman in the Yard Investigation that I read (you can check my review for book 1 here and for book 2 here) and I’ve become a keen follower of the series, which combines interesting characters and plot with great attention to detail and a compelling style of writing that transport readers right into the heart of Victorian England. While the previous novels were set in London (and we learned much about the changes taking place in the city at the time and the criminal underworld), this novel takes inspector Bowman, Graves, and later Hicks, from Scotland Yard, to the countryside, where they are confronted with a village that is fiercely suspicious of outsiders, and where anybody straying from the established social order is frowned upon. The author proves as adept at depicting this society (with its rigid norms of behaviour, its prejudices and xenophobia, its narrow-mindedness and its cruelty) as he had been at showing us what the big metropolis was like. This is no idyllic English village, but a place full of secrets, envies, one-upmanship, spite, and lack of empathy. It might look pretty from the outside, but as a rotten piece of fruit, its insides are ugly.

Bowman, who had been struggling with his grief and his mental health difficulties from the first book, is quickly becoming unravelled, and that is partly why he is sent away from London to a place where his superiors think he is less likely to cause any damage or come to any serious harm. It is also a way of testing him and seeing how he manages, under the supervision of Graves. As the description explains, things start going wrong quite quickly and Bowman’s mental state puts everybody at risk.

The P.O.V. is the same as in the rest of the series, omniscient, mostly focused on Bowman, but there are parts of the story where we share in the point of view of one of his men, and even of some of the villagers and others involved. I know some readers are not fond of this particular point of view, and although I think it works particularly well in this setting (as the main character becomes an increasingly unreliable narrator) prospective readers might want to check a sample of the writing beforehand.  There are hints and references to events in previous novels in the series, but I think a reader new to the series would be able to enjoy it as well, and I’m convinced he’d be sufficiently intrigued with the events here to want to catch up with the rest of the story.

I particularly liked the depiction of village life, and the social commentary resulting from it (gypsies are suspected of all crimes, there are rigid social norms and people cannot try to move across the divide without causing resentment). I also enjoyed the background of the mystery (but I won’t say anything else to avoid spoilers). There are plenty of red herrings, twists and turns, and cul-de-sacs; although at a personal level I am more interested in Victorian London and its criminal world. I was also intrigued by the baddie, who in some ways seems to understand Bowman perfectly (better than he understands himself, perhaps because they have things in common, although each one of them have dealt with their personal situation in a completely different way), and enjoyed seeing more of Graves and even Hicks (who can be quite effective when he gets going).

What got me hooked into the story most of all was Bowman and his descend into his personal hell. He tries to find some remedy and some help for his condition, but it is not easy, and in his path to self-destruction he gathers a momentum he is unable to control. The ending came as no surprise (I refer to what happens to Bowman, rather than the actual case, although I also guessed the guilty parties, but then I have a suspicious mind. I wouldn’t say it’s easy to guess), and I wonder what will come next.

This is another great novel, and one that explores a different, but not kinder, aspect of life in the Victorian era. There is domestic violence, exploitation, murders, secrets, cowardice, and the full catalogue of human sins. We also get an opportunity to witness the unequal fight of a good man against his grief and his PTSD. The violence and the crimes and not particularly explicit in this book, but this is not a gentle cozy mystery, and readers should be prepared for their emotions to be put to the test. A great combination of historical mystery, social commentary, and psychological study. Highly recommended.

Thanks to the author for his novel, thanks to all of you for reading and remember to like, share, comment, click, review, and always keep safe and keep smiling. Oh, and don’t worry if you check my previous reviews and see different covers now. The series has been given a once over and all the books have new covers. 

 

Categories
Book review Book reviews

THE HUNTING PARTY: A NOVEL by Lucy Foley (@HarperCollinsUK) (@lucyfoleytweets) A twisted mystery and an homage to the classics of the genre

Hi all:

I bring you a mystery that although reminiscent of old classics, is fairly more twisted and dark than mysteries of old.

The Hunting Party by Lucy Foley

The Hunting Party: A Novel by Lucy Foley

AN INSTANT SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER

NAMED ONE OF THE MOST ANTICIPATED THRILLERS OF THE WINTER BY:

Goodreads • BookBub • PopSugar • BookRiot • Crimereads • Pure Wow • Crime by the Book

ALL OF THEM ARE FRIENDS. ONE OF THEM IS A KILLER.

“A ripping, riveting murder mystery — wily as Agatha Christie, charged with real menace, real depth. Perfect for fans of Ruth Ware.” – A.J. Finn, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Woman in the Window

During the languid days of the Christmas break, a group of thirtysomething friends from Oxford meet to welcome in the New Year together, a tradition they began as students ten years ago. For this vacation, they’ve chosen an idyllic and isolated estate in the Scottish Highlands—the perfect place to get away and unwind by themselves.

The trip began innocently enough: admiring the stunning if foreboding scenery, champagne in front of a crackling fire, and reminiscences about the past. But after a decade, the weight of secret resentments has grown too heavy for the group’s tenuous nostalgia to bear. Amid the boisterous revelry of New Year’s Eve, the cord holding them together snaps.

Now, on New Year’s Day, one of them is dead . . . and another of them did it.

DON’T BE LEFT OUT. JOIN THE PARTY NOW.

https://www.amazon.com/Hunting-Party-Novel-Lucy-Foley-ebook/dp/B07B7LLJLZ/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Hunting-Party-Novel-Lucy-Foley-ebook/dp/B07B7LLJLZ/

https://www.amazon.es/Hunting-Party-Novel-Lucy-Foley-ebook/dp/B07B7LLJLZ/

About the author:

Lucy Foley studied English Literature at Durham and UCL universities and worked for several years as a fiction editor in the publishing industry, before leaving to write full-time. The Hunting Party is her debut crime novel, inspired by a particularly remote spot in Scotland that fired her imagination.

Lucy is also the author of three historical novels, which have been translated into sixteen languages.

Follow her on:

Twitter: @lucyfoleytweets
Instagram: @lucy_foley_author
Facebook.com/lucyfoleyauthor

https://www.amazon.com/Lucy-Foley/e/B00LMBVZNC?

My review:

I thank Harper Collins UK and NetGalley for providing me an ARC copy of this novel, which I freely chose to review.

Lucy Foley is a new author to me, but I was intrigued by the premise of the book, which promised to be a look back at the classics but with a modern touch. The format is easily recognisable (a group of people isolated in a somewhat strange setting, a crime, and the suspicions that fall on all those present). I had recently read The Glass Hotel and although they are set in very different locations (the hotel here is in the Scottish Highlands), there were some similarities in the isolation of the place, and in the motivations of some of the employees to seek such isolation, but this is a more conventional caper, where everybody hides secrets, dislikes and even hatreds, and there is a lot of emphasis placed on the relationship between the university friends who go on holiday together even though they no longer have much in common, and whom we get to know pretty well during the book.

There are plenty of lies, obscure motivations, relationships that are not what they seem to be, infidelity, popularity contests, friction between the so-called friends, and the book is told in two separate timeframes, one after the crime (although a bit like in Big Little Lies, we hear about the aftermath of the crime, but who the victim is doesn’t get revealed until almost the very end), and another that follows chronologically from the time when the friends set off towards their holiday destination. Eventually, both narratives catch up, and we get a full understanding of what has gone on.  It’s a great strategy to keep readers guessing, and although I did have my suspicions of at least some of the things that were to come, I admit that there are some interesting red herring thrown into the works . Readers need to remain attentive to the changes in time frame to avoid getting confused as to when things have taken place, although this is clearly stated in the novel.

One of the problems some readers seem to have with the novel is that the characters are not terribly likeable. The story is narrated mostly from the point of view of several of the women: three of the female friends (Emma, the newest one to arrive in the group; Miranda, the Queen Bee who never quite lived up to everybody’s expectations; and Katie, Miranda’s best friend, the only single one, who seems to have outgrown the group in many ways ), and also Heather, the manager of the hotel, who has secrets of her own (and is one of the nicest characters)— all of them told in the first person—, and one man’s point of view, Doug, another employee of the hotel, although in his case we get a third-person account, and one marred by many of his personal difficulties (let’s say that he is not a very reliable narrator). Reading the events from several points of view helps us gain perspective and heightens our suspicions as to what might really be going on. I must agree that the characters, probably because we are privy to their internal thoughts rather than to others’ opinions of them, are difficult to like. Self-obsessed or obsessed with others, with random likes and dislikes, cruel, or unable to face the truth… none of them are people most of us would choose as friends. Considering this is a book about a group of friends, it does offer a particularly grim view of old friendships, emphasising the lack of sincerity and honesty and the dark undertones to most of the relationships between them. On the other hand, I must admit that dark —or at least grey— characters make for a much more interesting reading experience than goody two-shoes.

The writing style is straight forward and manages to create a clear image of the characters in the reader’s mind. There are some rather memorable scenes as well, but the book takes its time building up the background and the relationships, rather than moving at a fast pace, but still manages to keep readers intrigued and interested.

As I said, I had my suspicions about who the guilty party might be and what was behind the murder from early on (the clues are all there), but nonetheless I found the ending satisfying, and I think most readers will feel the same.

In sum, a solid thriller, that brings back memories of old style mystery novels, with more emphasis on the psychological aspect, and which also has much in common with the domestic noir style (although here transposed to the Highlands). An interesting novel for lovers of the genre, and one that I’m sure in the right hands could be turned into a successful movie.

Oh, an update on my news. The course is hard but not going too badly so far, but due to the Coronavirus all the schools and institutes have been closed, and we’ll do what we can online, but as we have to also teach students, and at the moment we don’t know when that will be possible, I might not be back as soon as I expected, or I might be back and disappear again. I’ll keep you posted, but will carry on posting reviews when I have a chance.

Thanks to the publisher, the author and NetGalley, thanks to all of you for reading, and remember to keep smiling! And be safe!

 

 

Categories
Book review Book reviews Tuesday Book Blog

#TuesdayBookBlog COLLATERAL CARNAGE: MONEY. POLITICS. BIG PHARMA. WHAT COULD GO WRONG? by Chris Saper Recommended to fans of conspiracy theory novels and spy thrillers #RBRT

Hi all:

I bring you and intriguing a scary book, although it is not a horror novel. Another one from Rosie’s fabulous Book Review Team.

 

 

 

Collateral Carnage by Chris Saper
Collateral Carnage by Chris Saper 

Collateral Carnage: Money. Politics. Big Pharma. What could go wrong? by Chris Saper

Money. Politics. Big Pharma. What could go wrong? As PTSD therapist Claire Wilheit is about to learn, a whole helluva lot. A chance after-hours encounter with a fellow therapist reveals falsified patient files and thrusts Claire into a conspiracy poised to revolutionize treatment for US veterans now and for future generations, with deadly collateral damage. Trapped in an avalanche of events over which she has no control, Claire is locked into a race against time in preventing the sweeping, irreversible and fatally flawed policies that Congress is about to set into play. Collateral Carnage is Chris Saper’s debut novel, a gripping thriller set in a future near enough to be all too terrifying.

Links:

https://www.amazon.com/Collateral-Carnage-Money-Politics-Pharma-ebook/dp/B07TSL17GT/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Collateral-Carnage-Money-Politics-Pharma-ebook/dp/B07TSL17GT/

https://www.amazon.es/Collateral-Carnage-Money-Politics-Pharma-ebook/dp/B07TSL17GT/

Author Chris Saper
Author Chris Saper

About the author:

I’m lucky enough to have had three pretty diverse careers spanning forty years. But solving puzzles has been at the heart of each one.​

As a masters prepared health care administrator, I worked as a strategic planner, hospital administrator and implemented the pre-hospital/categorization program in Central Arizona.​

A bachelor’s degree in fine arts, put on the back burner for seventeen years, served me well as second career as a commissioned portrait artist. After all, what’s a blank canvas except another big puzzle to solve? To date, I’ve completed nearly 400 commissions nationwide, and authored four books and four DVDs teaching other artists about my craft – and helping them develop their own.​

As a voracious fiction reader, a relentless grammar nut, and Scrabble junkie, I love communicating clearly and with the best style I can.

And here we are! My first novel, set in the near future, about corruption and conspiracy within the government’s delivery of mental health service to PTSD patients in the VA system.​

Sound far-fetched to you? Not to me. I care about this stuff, deeply, and this is one way for me to elevate not only my own concerns, but those of so many of my fellow citizens.

https://www.amazon.com/Chris-Saper-Author/e/B07V49T25C

My review:

I write this review as a member of Rosie’s Book Review Team (authors, check here if you want to get your book reviewed), and thank her and the author for the ARC copy of the book, which I freely chose to review.

Having worked in the health services (although in the UK) for a number of years, and having treated some patients suffering from PTSD (although I’m no specialist), I was intrigued by this debut novel. I was even more interested when I read the author’s biography and learned of her first-hand experience as a healthcare administrator, as that promised to bring an insider’s perspective into the topic and add complexity to the plot.

This novel is perfect for readers who love conspiracy theory plots and also spy novels. I must confess that I am not much of a reader of spy novels, because I tend to get lost in the huge number of names, where characters often swap identities, and sometimes find it difficult to tell the different players apart. There is some of that here, because we are thrown at the deep end from the beginning. There’s no gentle easing into the subject or much background information provided before we get into the nitty gritty of the story, and the fact that we don’t know what’s happening parallels the experience of the main character, Claire Wilheit.

The story is narrated in the third person, but from a variety of points of view (I’d say almost as many as characters, or at least as many as characters that have some bearing into the outcome of the novel), and although some characters appear often and we become somewhat familiar with them, there are others that only make a fleeting appearance. The point of view, although clearly signalled, can change even within a chapter, and not all readers feel comfortable with so many changes. Chapters are short, the story moves at a quick pace, and although the language is straightforward, and there are no unnecessarily long descriptions, readers need to remain alert and attentive. This is not an easy and relaxed read; the plot has many strands that might appear quite entangled and confusing at first, but if one keeps reading, the story becomes clearer and the subject is both compelling and gripping.

Personally, I felt that this is a story heavier on plot than on characters. There are quite a number of characters I liked (mostly on the “good” side, although I felt some sympathy for the motives of some of the characters on the “bad” side as well), especially Claire, who is determined, intelligent, resourceful, and has managed to overcome pretty difficult circumstances, but because there are so many characters, and they all take their turn, it is difficult to get to know most of them in depth. I think that was in part the reason why, at times, I felt like an observer of the plot and the story, rather than being fully involved and sharing in the experiences of the characters. The end of the novel hinted at the possibility of further adventures involving Claire and some of the other characters (I’m trying to avoid spoilers here), so readers might learn much more about them.

I “enjoyed” (well, it worried me, but you know what I mean), the insight into the pharmaceutical industry, the way the novel spells out the relationship between Big Pharma and politics, and the reflections on how the healthcare system works (or rather, might end up working) in the USA. One of the aspects of the novel that I found captivating was the dystopian edge of the story. I haven’t seen it listed as a dystopia, but it is set in the very near future, with a social order very similar to the current one, but with subtle differences, or perhaps one could call them “developments” that, unfortunately, fit in well with recent events and with the way things are progressing. In the book, the efforts to control costs have resulted in the privatization of ever more services —the police force in Phoenix, for instance, deals with certain kinds of crimes, but at night there is a Militia in charge, and there is a curfew in place—, including the healthcare of the veterans of the many wars that the American military has participated in, and there are large interests involved in all these services. And, of course, those can be manipulated by less than scrupulous people. The most worrying part of the story is that it feels very realistic. It does not take a big stretch of the imagination to see something like this happening, and perhaps with an end far less satisfying than that of the novel (which I liked).

In summary, this is a novel for lovers of conspiracy theories and/or fairly realistic spy thrillers, that like puzzles and complex plots and don’t shy away from hard topics. The author injects her knowledge into the story without overwhelming it and the research is well integrated into the plot. There is no graphic violence and no romance here but a dire warning of how things could end up if money continues to be the governments’ (not only that of the USA) only consideration when dealing with people’s wellbeing. The characters are not as important as the story, but I think there is room for their development in future instalments. As a note to the author, I wonder if a list of characters might help people not to get lost, especially at the beginning of the book. I know that because of the nature of the plot, it might be difficult to do that without spoiling some of the surprises, although there might be ways around it. I will keep a close watch on the author’s writing career.

Thanks to Rosie and to her team for the ongoing support, thanks to all of you for reading, and remember to like, share, comment, and review, if you’re so inclined, but always keep smiling!

 

Categories
Book review Book reviews

#Bookreview Closer than You Think (A Broken Minds Thriller) by Lee Maguire (@TCKPublishing) A solid first novel for lovers of psychological suspense and Basset Hounds

Hi, all:

Today I bring you the review of a book that I got sent quite a while ago but had been hiding from me. I’ve finally got around to it, and I hope to catch up on some more that I’m sure are also buried under my long list. Sorry! Better late than never, I hope!

Closer Than You Think by Lee Maguire
Closer Than You Think by Lee Maguire

Closer than You Think (A Broken Minds Thriller) by Lee Maguire

Meet Bryce Davison, a gifted psychologist who can heal any troubled mind—except his own.

You see, Bryce’s life is falling apart. His marriage is crumbling. His insomnia brings only half-sleep and troubled dreams—visions of dark and buried memories he’d rather forget or ignore completely. And the new female patient in his psych ward just might be more trouble than he’s able to cope with.

…and now he has a stalker.

Somebody’s been watching Bryce for a long time. Somebody who knows his life inside and out—his fears, his regrets, his greatest longings and deepest despairs. Somebody with access to his most private places—his workplace, his home, his family…anywhere Bryce might have felt safe.

They do their dirty work in the shadows… and they want Bryce Davison dead.

So Bryce has got to get his life together. To save his patients. To save his family. To save his marriage…and his life.

Because no matter how close Bryce gets to the deadly truth, the enigmatic stalker is always closer than he thinks.

Fans of psychological thrillers like I Am Watching You by Teresa Driscoll, Stillhouse Lake by Rachel Caine, and No Exit by Taylor Adams will love this book.

You will enjoy Closer Than You Think if you like:

  • Psychological thrillers
  • Psychological suspense
  • Cerebral mysteries

Here is the link of the book:

http://geni.us/closerthanyouthinkm

Amazon links:

https://www.amazon.com/Closer-Think-Broken-Minds-Thriller-ebook/dp/B07FZ9XFGF/

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Closer-Think-Broken-Minds-Thriller-ebook/dp/B07FZ9XFGF/

https://www.amazon.es/Closer-Think-Broken-Minds-Thriller-ebook/dp/B07FZ9XFGF/

Lee Maguire
Lee Maguire (or his representative…)

About the author:

Lee Maguire grew up reading mysteries and thrillers. While he has continued to enjoy medical and legal thrillers, psychological suspense quickly became his preferred genre. Writing such a work became a passion.

Lee has practiced as a psychotherapist, behavioral health consultant, clinical supervisor, and graduate psychology instructor. His clinical experience meshes well with the activities of Doctor Bryce Davison, drawing the reader into the mind of the clinician.

Closer Than You Think is book one of the planned Broken Minds Thriller series featuring Doctor Bryce Davison. Additional information may be found at leemaguirebooks.com

https://www.amazon.com/Lee-Maguire/e/B07G2VJCB1/

Lee’s Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/Dr-Bryce-Davison-Thriller-Series-1497309670567574/

My review:

Disclaimer: the publisher offered me a free ARC copy of this book. This this not affect my review.

In brief, this is a promising debut novel (in a planned series of psychological thrillers), narrated in the first person, with a solid stalker plot (clues, red-herrings and twists likely to make most readers of the genre happy), an interesting setting (a mental health treatment facility for troubled youths) and a good development of the main character (psychologist Bryce Davison, a man with an unsettled and traumatic past), and a wonderful Basset Hound. On the minus side, it could do with a tighter editing, more development of the secondary characters, and more attention to the pacing of the action.

This book will be especially appealing to those who enjoy psychological suspense, with particular emphasis on the “psychological” part. The author’s professional experience shines through, and that aspect of the novel is particularly well achieved, although it might seem overdetailed to people used to faster-paced thrillers.

The first-person point of view works well for the type of story, as it allows readers to share in the doubts and thoughts of the victim, experiencing his anxiety, reliving the trauma he experienced when he was young, and also trying to piece together the clues with him. On the other hand, the novel reads, at times, like a poorly focused memoir, with plenty of repetition of everyday living activities and chores that don’t help move the action forward and don’t add much to our understanding of the character. (There are so many times we can read about the character having a shower, the fact that his fridge is empty, or his switching or on off the computer). I’ve read novels that meander through stuff that does not seem particularly noteworthy, but the style of writing makes it impossible not to enjoy the detour. In this novel, neither the style of writing nor the genre are best suited for it. The other characters are not very well-developed, partly perhaps to do with the choice of point of view, and in some cases, like Bryce’s wife, that has the effect of making them appear inconsistent or totally at odds with the protagonist’s opinion of them.

The suspenseful plot and the way it builds up work well, although I agree with some of the reviewers that complain about the ending and the final explanation being too rushed. The story is not heavy on action or violence, although there is some, and the ending itself is satisfying.

As I said, this is a solid first novel that could be further improved by another round of editing, and I’d recommend it to people who prefer psychological suspense and who value plot over character building. Also recommended to Basset Hound lovers.

Thanks to the publisher and to the author, huge thanks to you all for reading, if you like it, share it and/or comment, and keep on smiling!

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