CAMEL’S DEBUT WILL LEAVE YOU SCRATCHING YOUR HEAD IN THE QUEEN VIC

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ATTEND AW.inddEvery year millions are spent around the world by people trying to stall the march of time and retain their youthful looks. According to an article on Marie Claire online last year, British people spend on average £4,400  per year on beauty products. Its all well and good staying young like Dorian Gray, but what about living forever? Yes, our own mortality is still one of the biggest taboo subjects  but eventually death comes to us all.  With the advances in medical science, we are all living longer, thus putting a strain on the planets resources and those of the individual countries we live in, pensions, health care etc. Eternal life is one of the main topics in this month’s book review and blog tour. Its ‘Attend’, by  West Camel which is published by Orenda Books (www.orendabooks.co.uk) on the 13th December.

Anne is an ex drug addict whose been away for a couple of years rehabilitating. She returns to her home town of Deptford, in the southeast of London and is starting to rebuild her life and relationships with her family and friends, whose own lives have moved on in her absence. Things are complicated by her ex sister in law whose been diagnosed with terminal cancer asking her to get some “gear” so she can take her own life.

Sam is a young chap from the North of England who’s moved to London to follow his heart and find love in the city’s gay community. He starts a relationship with a small time East End gangster, called Derek after witnessing him beating up a local drug dealer in a back street. Derek is a mate of Mel, Anne’s ex husband.

They both separately meet Deborah an old woman and ex-seamstress who lives in a small ramshackle house on the banks of the river Thames, with no power or running water and who survives by sewing, sailing her boat up and down the river and fishing in the Thames. She’s basically an “Off-Gridder” in the middle of one of the world ‘s largest cities. In her own unique way, she helps both Anne and Sam start to turn their lives around. Things come to ahead when Anne witnesses her sister in law buy drugs off the local dealer, the same guy Sam witnessed Derek beating up and she subsequently takes her life. Which sets Derek and Mel on the war path for him. But Deborah’s got a bigger secret that she finally reveals to Sam and Anne. She’s well over a hundred years old and can’t die due to a strange motif she’s been sewing on pieces of cloth for years. Now she wants their help to die. Can Anne and Sam stop her ex and his lover from going to prison and also help Deborah, finally rest in peace?

Everything about this book is weird, from the title, to the authors name (which sounds made up but appears to be genuinely his) to the story within the covers. Its hard to describe it but basically it comes across as The Picture of Dorian Gray meets Eastenders and City of Angels. As for the title, at almost three quarters of the way through the book the word ‘attend’ is mentioned once. You never really get an inkling as to what or who we’re  supposed to attend to…

Met Police Helicopter Eastenders

 

The story unfolds like a modern-day soap opera, set in London and you are at every turning page expecting to hear the Duh, Duh, Duh drumbeat of the cliffhanger ending to an episode. However, it is hard to see where its going and what type of story it is. Also the little voice in my head kept trying to impersonate Phil Mitchell and Pat Butcher when reading dialogue. Well out of order!

 

The book doesn’t come across as a love story, or a mystery.  Neither is it an attempt at some sort of modern fairytale. It was a bit of stretch to try find a moral message about assisted suicides and mortality within the pages.

Initially I thought that Deborah was an angel, as the only people who seem to see her are Anne and Sam. She seems to pass unnoticed by every other single member of public.  With the time of year that it is, it was quite apt and the only thing missing is the sound of a church bell tolling and some kid saying the immortal line, “Every time a bell rings an angel gets its wings..”

This is British author West Camel’s (www.westcamel.net) first novel. He is currently an

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West Camel

editor with Orenda books and The European Literature Networks Riveter magazine, along with writing for various arts organisations plus ghostwriting a new adult novel. Before that, he was an editor with the Dalkey Archive Press, which is based just up the road from me, here in South County Dublin. He has also written several short scripts which have been produced in various theatres on London’s fringe network.

Did I like this novel, Yes’ish… I didn’t hate it. It was readable, but it wasn’t what you’d call a “one session read”. The characters are stereo-typical, bar Deborah who is like-able, if at times she has a sort of Mary Poppins-esque vibe about her. Considering she’s quite a few stops past a decade on this planet, I was amazed she was still nimble enough to be able to sail a boat single-handedly. So if you are up for a safe middle of the road modern story, then download a copy or get one in your local book shop and maybe you can find some deeper meaning to this story.

To see what the other bloggers thought visit their websites below.

Happy Christmas from all of us at The Library Door

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STEPPING OUT OF THEIR COMFORT ZONE STANLEY’S DEADLY THRILLER SHEDS LIGHT ON THE RHINO TRADE

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dead-of-night cvrIt is believed in the west that gold, cocaine  and platinum are some of the most expensive commodities on the planet but actually in Asia there is something even more expensive than all three of them; ground down rhino horn. The current market price is estimated at $60,000 per kilogram. As for the number of Rhinos poached, 1,175 was the number in South Africa in 2016 according to Al Jazeera. Poaching in South Africa has increased by 8000% between 2007 and 2017. Its not only the rhinos who suffer. In 2014 there were 56 ranger deaths reported worldwide as a result of being killed by poachers. Of that number 27 were in South Africa and it is estimated that the actual number of rangers killed there is three or four times that. The trade in rhino horn is the subject for this months second book review. Its ‘Dead Of Night‘, by Michael Stanley and was published in June 2018 by Orenda books (www.Orendabooks.co.uk)

Dead of Night is  the story of Crystal (Chrys) Nguyen, a Vietnamese-American journalist searching for the truth behind the disappearance of her friend and potential love interest ,Michael, who  has disappeared while researching a story for the National Geographic on the poachers and their South African and Vietnamese contacts. Despite constant warnings that ‘these are very dangerous people’, she decides to travel to South Africa to write up the unfinished article and, hopefully, to find and save Michael.

Her first port of call is a rhino farm, Chrys’s host is a crotchety old white rancher who has put his fortune into developing a rhino reserve and organizing anti-poaching posses. He believes that the horn which he has stockpiled from ‘shaving’ the animals in his reserve should be sold legally to flood the market and reduce prices, incidentally making a fortune which would save his finances. While at the farm ,Chrys witnesses the torture and killing of poachers and she begins to wonder if they have been killed to deter poaching or to cover up another secret. Her journey to find Michael takes her from South Africa to Vietnam and into direct confrontation with the police, governments, NGO’s (Non-Governmental Organisation) and the poachers.

This is a fast-paced action story with a strong plot, believable characters and lots of enjoyable twists and turns.

The book is timely, as we become more aware that humans are driving so many species Rhino2to extinction. The WWF Living Planet Report published in October claims the animal population on the planet has declined by 60% between 1970 and 2014 . Along with the assertion by some people that our impact over the last few generations may be compared to the four great extinction events in global history, the last of  which famously wiped out the dinosaurs.

Our heroine Chrys is a traditional female super-hero of a type that is rare nowadays, in an all-male world of gangsters, police and shades in between. I have become tired of the endless stream of seriously mixed up, and usually alcoholic, detectives in modern crime thrillers across all media, so Chrys is refreshingly straightforward. She has a back story of course, and her own hang-ups, but she never descends into despair or criminality. I also like the fact that she is a journalist, not a detective. She can shoot if she needs to, but it does not come naturally to her.

The rest of the characters, all men, are predominantly white, as well as satisfyingly ambiguous and we are not sure until the end who has compromised themselves in this murky world, or why they did so.

The descriptions of the killing of Rhinos for their horn are horrific.  Sometimes, however, I feel that the narrator is less worried about the killing of innocent people in the crossfire between gangs and police.

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Michael Stanley (Michael Sears & Stanley Trollip)

This the seventh book by Michael Stanley who is in fact a two-man team, of Michael Sears and Stanley Trollip (www.detectivekubu.com). This is the first book not to feature their rotund Botswana Police detective David “Kubu” Bengu,  A couple of which have been very well received on this blog previously, although I have not read any of them myself.

If I have a quibble, it is about the settings. On their website, the authors mention having spent time in other African countries but do not mention South Africa or, for that matter, Vietnam. These are the main export and import countries for illegal rhino horn, but the authors have made little attempt to add local colour or context. The game estate and the police in South Africa come across more like Kenya or even Zambia, without South Africa’s complex layers of former Bantustans, conflicting political groups or urbanization. South African is also useful to the plot because of the widespread use of English and the occasional conversations in Afrikaans to add mystery at some points.  Similarly, Vietnam comes across more like corrupt corners of Indonesia or Philippines, without distinctively Vietnamese characteristics, though this setting does allow for the Vietnamese-American heroine to understand overheard conversations unbeknownst to the locals.

At one level this might not matter – after all this is just the setting for a thriller. However, I am always annoyed when thrillers which use Ireland as a convenient location, then get it wrong, so I imagine that South Africans and Vietnamese will feel the same about this one.

If you like thrillers, then this is a a good read, tense and well written, which I would certainly recommend downloading or picking up a copy next time you’re in a book shop.

 

Reviewed by Robin Hanan

NO CROSSED WIRES HERE FOR CARVER’S GOOD SAMARITANS, IT’S A BLOODY GOOD READ.

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GOOD SAMARITANS AW PR1.inddWe’ve come a long way since Alexander Graham Bell summoned his assistant via a early telephone from the next room. Data from the GSMA, the body representing worldwide mobile network operators, shows Two-thirds of the world’s population are connected by mobile devices. By 2020, almost 75% of the global population will be connected by mobile phones. But with the development of the smart phone, there are a few draw backs, for one we are less reliant on our memory to recall important numbers. I can still remember life without a mobile and think it strange how our life seems to fall apart nowadays if we misplace it. As well as that, there’s  another thing the development of the smart phone hasn’t managed to over come, the miss-dialed number. This easily done thing is the catalyst for this months book. Its Good Samaritans by will Carver and published by Orenda books (www.orendabooks.co.uk) on the 10th November.

I read this book without looking at any surrounding blurb or reviews so I maybe came to it with preconceptions based on the title. The story introduces you to five main characters. Maeve and Seth are a married couple going through a bad patch. They don’t talk much and spend their evenings on the sofa watching reality shows. Maeve drinks a little and Seth is an insomniac. They enjoy sly digs and do things to irritate each other. Seth is bullied at work by his boss. He phones random strangers late at night hoping to talk and make a connection. They may represent a familiar picture to many couples. In fact Carver points out a couple of times that they are just like you. Ant, a young man who hasn’t recovered from the tragic death of a friend, tries to make himself feel better by helping others at a Samaritans call centre.

A lonely suicidal young woman makes a call to the Samaritans at the exact time Seth dials her number and a connection is made. Consider that the final main character is Detective Sergeant Pace, who is on the hunt for a serial killer and you might expect that something nasty is about to happen. And from this point It gets really hard to review this novel with giving too much away and spoiling it for potential readers. I can’t talk further about the plot but will just say, wow!

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I read the book in a day and that was because it got me hooked. All I can say is expect to be surprised and shocked. The story starts off at a slow pace. Everything is quite dull, every day and mildly depressing but then suddenly it’s turned on its head. There’s a dramatic change of gear. The story becomes depraved and sexy. Be prepared for full on sex and violence. There is however, humour too, although it’s very dark.

At infant school, in the 70’s, our weekly assembly included a bible story, read to us by one of the teachers. A selection of story books were stored in the bookcase in one corner of the room and I always yearned to hear of Jonah getting eaten by a whale but usually, in fact, almost every week it seemed, the teacher picked the story of the good Samaritan. I suppose they wanted to instill in us the value of caring for others and that sometimes the most unexpected person comes to your aid. I guess their plan worked as despite being agnostic, the story and it values stayed with me.

 

This is English author Will Carver’s (@willcarver) fourth book, his other three are Girl

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Will Carver

Four (2011), The Two (2011) and Dead Set (2013), which all feature his police detective DI January David. He spent his early years in Germany before returning to the UK aged eleven. There turned down a professional rugby contract to study theatre and television and went on to set up a successful theatre company in Winchester. He currently lives in Reading with his family where he runs a fitness and nutrition company while writing his next thriller.

Part of the joy of this rollercoaster of a read was that Carver does his ground work. The characters are fully conceived with their flaws and desires and you really buy into them.

The book makes you think about how well you really know your colleagues and neighbours. Could there be a serial killer amongst them? According to the FBI a serial killer is defined as someone who has killed three or more victims. Thomas Hargrove a homicide archivist and founder of the not for profit Murder Accountability Project, estimates that there are 2000 undetected serial killers operating in the states. Suddenly the odds are shrinking! Will Carver’s book may be titled, ‘Good Samaritans’ but it seems there’s a big predator waiting to get you inside. Maybe I should have got to listen to Jonah instead? Now where’s my bleach?….

This book was reviewed as part of the Random Things  blog tour, to see what the other reviewers thought, visit their blogs listed below and see if we agree.

Reviewed by Georgina Murphy

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TOUMAINEN’S LACK LUSTRE PALM BEACH FORCES ME TO CURTAIL MY VISIT

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PALM BEACH PROOF COVER AWEvery decade has its memorable TV crime shows, the seventies had Starsky & Hutch, The Sweeney and Hawaii 5-0 to name a few. The eighties had more than its fair share, such as Cagney & Lacey, Magnum and Knight Rider. Some left us with a catch phrase, like “Book Em Dano” or Regan shouting in a thick London accent, “You’re nicked !!!”, while others left us with a new sense of style. Magnum for example, made bushy mustaches and Hawaiian shirts all the rage, while one other programme of the eighties left us with white linen jackets , matched with crew necked t-shirts and a strange hankering for wearing no socks. Yes, it was of course, Miami Vice. Florida and it’s TV series play a part in this months second review,  Palm Beach Finland by Antti Toumainen, which is published by Orenda Books (www.orendabooks.co.uk) on October 18th.

When a mysterious death occurs in a small sleepy Finnish seaside resort, Jan Nyman a leading light in the Helsinki Covert Police unit is sent to investigate. The town is attempting to go through a rebirth, with a large holiday resort in the middle of it branding itself Palm Beach and aiming to be the new mecca for the rich and famous to challenge Monte Carlo and Monaco. Picture any ageing British seaside resort, such as Blackpool or Skegness and you can get a feel for the what type of place this is.

But when Nyman arrives, he discovers behind the garish neon signage and faux Miami-esque frontage  a wealth of seedy characters with various reasons for committing the murder, along with a series of further strange events that occur after his arrival. Nyman must get to the bottom of this mystery by any means possible. Assuming the role of a Helsinki mathematics teacher, who is on his holidays, he throws himself literally into the job.

I was expecting a lot from this book, having read and thoroughly enjoyed Toumainen’s last offering, The Man Who Died. But this book let me down and I was left disinterested in a story which moped along  and the host of characters who came across as one dimensional  and unoriginal. Where The Man Who Died was a real page turner with well rounded characters and  a plot that held you vice like until the very end, I must admit I didn’t get to the end of this book by the time of writing review.

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Antti Toumainen

The press release claims similarities between it and Fargo. Everyone has tried to emulate Fargo since it appeared and now a days it’s becoming a bit dated. In my opinion the film was great, but the TV series was a step too far and more proof if ever it was needed of Hollywood’s fear of trying new material and sticking to old over-worked formula. The nearest thing to come close to Fargo in recent times was this year’s smash hit “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri”, which funnily enough shared the same leading lady – Francis McDormand.

This is Finnish author and script writer, Antii Toumainen’s (www.anttitoumainen.com) seventh novel. The others include The Healer (2013), The Mine (2016) and The Man Who Died (2016). He has won numerous awards for his writing, including The Clue Award for “Best Finnish Crime Novel” in 2011 for The Healer. He was crowned “The King Of Helsinki Noir” by the Finnish press in 2013 on the publication of Dark As My Heart.

Having read his previous work and seeing what this man can do with a fresh perspective on a simple story, don’t let me deter you from picking up a copy of this or his previous books. I look forward to his next offering. To see what the other reviewers thought of the book, see the list of their websites below and go visit them.

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ROBERTS GOES ALL TOOTH, NAIL AND RITCHIE WITH THE BLACK PRINCE

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The Black Prince CoverOne of the joys of being English, is whichever foreign country you may be visiting, the urge to apologise on behalf of the actions of your nation is strong. Throughout history we have oppressed, enslaved, conquered, pillaged, waged holy crusades and generally stuck our noses into all manner of societies. Even to this day it provides a rich source of material for various TV  programmes. The History Channel  currently has a lighted-hearted series hosted by the comedian Al Murray entitled, ‘ Why Does Everyone Hate The English?’.A brief look at the history books should enlighten anyone.

I raided my own somewhat spotty knowledge of history when presented with this month’s book for review, its The Black Prince, by Adam Roberts, published by Unbound (www.unbound.com ) on the 4th October and being featured here as part of the Random Things Black Prince blog tour.

Adapted from a screenplay by Anthony Burgess a British comedic author, whose best known work is A Clockwork Orange. Adam Robert’s novel is set during the reign of Edward the Third and part of the Hundred Years War. This isn’t a period I’m familiar with, my school learned history apparently having moved from the Norman conquest directly to Henry the Eighth, so I was interested to learn what I could about the Black Prince and the war for France.

Beginning at Cressy, the book takes the story forward using a large cast of characters. The titular Black Prince, a foot soldier called Black George, priests, clerics, villagers, miners and gentlewomen. Interspersed among the prose are news bulletin style story breaks, poetry and sections described as,’ camera eye’, which I initially took to be part of some kind of news footage but now think is more of a psychic scrying type of phenomenon. Its hard to know where screenplay and novel unite or differ. There are some modern images such as the Pathe cockerel from 20th Century newsreels, which the author refers to. Its all very Guy Ritchie.

Poetry aside, and I know ballads were a form of oral news-feed in medieval times, but I have no time for poetry in novels, and a slight excess of religion which is also to not to my taste; the style changes made it, in my opinion, more appetizing to modern tastes and less of a dry historical account.  Intermittently following the fortunes of characters from differing walks of life gave the story depth, thus you get a glimpse at the events from lots of angles. There were perhaps too many different stories as sometimes the narrative felt in-cohesive and meandering? History very rarely records the stories of the foot soldiers and bit players of life and so it was good to see their short, often brutal, existences detailed.

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Adam Roberts

As for its Brutality, this is not a book for the fainthearted or squeamish. When we talk these days of being chivalrous we think of good manners and kindness. In medieval times it referred to a system of behavior knights and highborn ladies should adhere to.  There was much talk of chivalry in the book but one could be horrified by the wanton cruelty and disregard for life.  No mercy is shown, nor quarter given. To me the characters seemed the opposite of chivalrous. One of the lords says,” A fine word chivalry. It means appropriate to the chevalier. And what is a chevalier? A man on a horse.” Whilst we may have been deluded by accounts of King Arthur and his knights, written as romanticized tales long after the events, I think the level of barbarity and graphic violence may shock some readers.

This the 16th book by English author, academic and critic Adam Roberts (www.adamroberts.com), his others a mix of science fiction, collected short stories, non-fiction, parody and academic works, include the prize winning Glass House (2012). While his most recent novel was The Real Town Murders (2017). He is the professor of 19th Century literature at Royal Holloway, University College London and  currently lives in the South East of England.

The Black Prince of the title, Edward of Woodstock is the is the son of Edward the Third and therefore the Prince of Wales. He never becomes king as he died before his father. He won his spurs in his first battle at the age of 16. Pursuing an English claim to reign over France his army marched across France waging war and laying siege to towns. Known as the Black Prince, his name is linked historically to cruelty. Most notably in his sack of the town of Limoges, where it is said he had the entire population of the city was killed, more than three thousand people. However, recently a letter written by the Prince was discovered in a Spanish archive. It was written three days after the sack of Limoges and details the prisoners taken and reduces the estimated death toll to nearer three hundred. So maybe Edward of Woodstock has undeservedly been cast as an evil figure in history.  Whatever the truth is this novel makes you realise that if war didn’t claim you, plague or poverty may still.

This book will be a good read for those who like their historical fiction raw in tooth and claw or grew up on the children’s books “Horrible Hostories”, personally I don’t see it being a recommended text for schools however!

Reviewed By Georgina Murphy

To see what the other reviewers thought of the book, find their websites on the poster below and go and visit them.

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BEECH PROVES THERE’S NO TAMING THIS LITERARY LIONESS

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thumbnail_Lion Tamer front cover finalWishes are an amazing facet of life. They help us get through tough times, allowing is to believe in and live for something in the future that will make us happier. There are different ways of wishing, some people wish upon a star, others make one on blowing out a candle or pulling apart the  wishbone of a chicken.

It is often said; be careful what you wish for. As we found out last week. For a couple of months now myself and my wife have played with an idea about adding to our furry four-legged brood, by getting another cat. Well a month ago, we found one and it arrived last week. Now we have a fur ball  lightning bolt who seems to have been crossed with a free runner and a football hooligan. This month’s book also features cats, big ones and a story about  long held wishes and what can happen when they eventually come true. The book is “The Lion Tamer Who Lost” by Louise Beech, published by Orenda Books (www.orendabooks.co.uk), on the 30th September.

Ben and Andrew meet by chance in the local library. Ben is there to write an essay for university and Andrew is doing research for his book. What follows is an intense relationship which takes over both their lives, but no sooner has it begun then Andrew is struck down by Leukemia and a simple blood test reveals more than just love and lust between the two men. Because of this they part company and Ben, driven by the bigoted views and the wandering crotch of his old man, follows a promise he made to his dying mum to go to Africa to help at a lion reserve. Andrew also made a wish when his was a young boy and keeps it in a silver box. Despite the miles between them and Ben’s relationships with a lioness called Lucy and Esther a fellow volunteer, he can’t forget his feelings for Andrew. Six months on Ben and Esther’s relationship forces them home to where they must make some life choices together. But what of Andrew? has he moved on? Will he be happy to see Ben and can Ben also be upfront with Esther  and his family about his sexuality?

This is the second of Louise’s books that I’ve read, the other being her debut novel, How To Be Brave. What I realised having read both, is that she has this amazing power to take simple stories and make them into heart-warming, emotionally driven tales that stay with the reader well after you’ve put down the book.

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Louise Beech

Whether she’s describing the view of witnessing an African sunrise or the disparity between different generations of working-class English families, every character and scene is so vivid and believable you can’t but feel you are there or say to yourself, “yes, I’ve been in a situation like that.”

A prime example can be found in her first book, which had an annoying little child as the main character in it. You do eventually warm to her character and to the difficulties she was facing, as she comes to terms with a diabetes diagnosis. This is thanks to Louise’s talent which proves she is a writer with immense skill far beyond the four books she has produced.

Diabetes is also a theme running through this book, with Andrew being the one dealing with his body’s wayward sugar levels. This comes down to the fact that Louise’s own daughter is a diabetic and her experiences come through n both books, having not read the others I can’t say if its a theme in all her books. In the Lion Tamer Who Lost, she gives you two strong males who are very much in love and weaves an emotional story of the bond between two gay men and shows no matter how hard you try, once you’ve met your destined mate, nothing is going to come between you. Well almost nothing…

Yes, like her debut novel, this book, really tugged at my heart strings and I dare any male out there, not to feel some twinges while reading it.

As for its length, at a tad over three hundred pages, it’s light and easy to read, although some of the chapters could be a bit confusing as they jump back and forth between the main characters and various times. There is a lot going on in the book: gay love, heterosexual relations and inter family relationships. At times, it does come across like a bit of a kitchen sink drama, with shades of an episode of Channel Fours “Queer As Folk”, but Beech never lets it get too in your face.

This is English Author Louise Beech’s (www.louisebeech.co.uk) fourth book, her othersLioness being How To Be Brave (2015), The Mountain In My Shoe (2016) and Maria In The Moon (2017). She lives In Hull with her family and when she’s not writing, she can be found working front of house at The Hull Truck Theatre, where her first play “Afloat” was performed in 2012.

So, if you are looking for loving crafted,  heart-warming and page turning read to welcome in the darkening evenings of the approaching winter, go pick up a copy  at your local book shop or download a copy. Then afterwards read Louise’s other books and prepare to be taken on a magical tour through the wonderful imagination and writings of one the North of England’s rising literary stars.

 

This book was reviewed as part of a Random Things blog tour, see the poster below for the other reviewers and visit their blogs to see what they thought.

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SYMON AND SHEPHARD SET TO GATHER A NEW FLOCK IN THE NORTHERN HEMISPHERE

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Overkill CoverWhile preparing to write this month’s third book review, I discovered that the New Zealand National Badminton team were once called “The Black Cock’s” but had to change the name after a year due to complaints. It also reminded me that I start my new badminton season this week, after the summer break.

But it’s the fine women of New Zealand that we look to in this review. They were the first females in the world to get the vote in 1893, while it is still the only country in the world where all the highest positions in government have been held by women simultaneously, in 2006. This month’s book features another determined and resilient antipodean woman, her name is Sam Shephard and she’s the protagonist in a new series of books (to be published outside New Zealand) by Vanda Symon. The first one is Overkill published by Orenda books (www.orendabooks.co.uk )  on the 30th August.

Sam Shephard is the solitary local constable in the small town of Matuara on the South Island. It’s a peaceful one-horse town, where the biggest problem crime wise is speeding. That is, until local woman Gaby Knowes goes missing leaving her young daughter home alone. When her husband Lockie discovers her missing and then finds a suicide note and pills in the kitchen sink, he calls the police.  From the outset Sam knows there’s a possible conflict of interest involving her and Gaby’s husband, she was his last serious relationship before he married Gaby and their split wasn’t exactly harmonious.

Whilst the missing woman’s family vehemently insist that she had no reason to take her own life, Sam must follow the clues and treat it as a suicide.  A search of the area surrounding the rural property provides no sign of Gaby, until late into the night when a team of local volunteers searching the nearby Mataura river find a body. By the time Sam realizes that it isn’t a suicide as the family have claimed but something more sinister, most of the crime scene evidence in the house has been compromised by Gaby’s well-meaning mother and her over-zealous use of a hoover and duster. As Sam calls in the reinforcements from the nearby town of Gore, her previous history with Lockie gets her suspended and marked up as a suspect. Of course, as with any good heroine, this doesn’t deter her from seeking the truth behind the overzealous act of violence and this puts her on a direct collision course with her superiors as well as the locals and jeopardises her career. Can she find the killer, before he strikes again, and get to the bottom of the murder in this quiet little back water of New Zealand?

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Vanda Symon

From the outset, this book had me intrigued, the title itself is a fine marketing ploy that will allow this new female crime stopper to stand cover to cover with her fellow counterparts and fight equally for shelf space with the seasoned pro’s from around the world.

Overkill!!! The word itself fires the imagination, making any casual peruser wonder as to what the story could be about and the mysteries lying within the darkly obscure covers and spine. What we get is a down to earth plain Jane copper whose hasn’t got all the answers but is believable and is no Lara Croft. No, she’s a real girl next door, who sounds like any half decent female police officer you might find on a dark windy rain swept night in any part of the world, just doing her job. Whose night, at any moment, could go from the mundane to the adrenaline pumping.

The story its self is excellently written and superbly plotted with enough misdirects and twists, to keep new fans happy. Especially rewarding is the reason for the murder, which comes out of left field and almost had me applauding its simplicity along with its potentially far reaching consequences.

 

The descriptive writing of Symon is fantastic too and having only ever been as far as MatauraMelbourne myself, New Zealand is somewhere I want to visit, and this book paints a picture far more beautiful and tranquil than the west of Ireland and Yorkshire moors at times. In Overkill, Symon has proved she can create more terror in this little piece of heaven, then the all to often relied upon back drops of bustling American or international cities.

This is New Zealand Author and radio host Vanda Symons (www.vandasymon.com) fifth book. Four of which feature her heroine Sam Shephard, which have all reached number one in the New Zealand bestseller lists. Overkill was first published in New Zealand in 2007, The others which hopefully Orenda won’t be too long in publishing are, Ringmaster (2008), Containment (2009) and Bound (2011) and her fifth book (not featuring Shephard) is the stand-alone psychological thriller The Faceless (2012). When not writing, Symon can be found gardening in her home in Dunedin or talking part locally and nationally in her lifelong hobby of fencing.

Overkill is what Symon has managed to avoid by delivering a concise and well-paced crime novel in no more than two hundred and seventy pages. For less than the standard over hyped big-name bestsellers, which seem to play more on substance than style. So, if you want a bright, funny and down to earth fresh faced detective to get behind as the nights start drawing in, then get down to your local book shop or download a copy.

 

To see what the rest of the bloggers thought of this book, check the poster below and over the next four weeks visit their sites to find out.

Overkill Blog Tour Poster