If I asked you to name the planet’s natural resources, could you? What about the top five? Well, the five most common natural resources are water, air, coal, natural gas and oil. They say that at the current rate of consumption, the earth’s oil reserves will run out in about 30-40 years. There are an estimated 65,000 oilfields around the globe, with the North Sea said to contain 1.7 to 3.3billon barrels of oil. In 2018 it was recorded that in the North Sea alone, there are 184 “Offshore” platforms.

Life on one of these behemoths is dangerous, but extremely well paid. A Reuters article in 2020, quoted Norwegian Statistics Office records, which stated Norwegian oil workers were earning on average $100,000 a year, including bonuses and overtime. This month’s second book review is set on a North Sea oil rig, its Emergency Drill by Chris Blackwater and published by Dark Edge Press ( ) on the 18th January.

Just as newly qualified medic Danny Vertiy arrives on the Cuillin Alpha north sea oil platform, a feroucious storm damages the satellite system severing all communication with the mainland. Before long he has to do emergency life saving surgery on a crew mate, whose accident he suspects was the work of a saboteur. When his patient dies and a sinister voice claiming to be the Pied Piper makes a threatening announcement over the PA , along with more vital equipment on the platform is damaged. Danny and the crew find themselves trapped on an isolated rig with a killer on the loose, while the north Atlantic sea rages around them. Can he find the culprit before anyone else dies or the whole platform is jepordised as paranoia among the crew leads to anarchy.  

Thrillers set on oil rigs are not new, but one that came to mind while reading this book was the 1980 Roger Moore film ‘North Sea Hijack’, in which an eccentric cat loving counter terrorist expert (Roger Moore) is asked put in place a plan to avert the hijack of oil rigs insured by Lloyds. Then, a couple of months later he must put his plan into operation when two oil rigs are held ransom. 

Writing a book set on an oil rig is like setting it on a space station or dessert island, you are immediately leaving your hero and the the killer or killers trapped in a confined space, which immediately heightens the tension and gives the writer a good firm foundation on which to tell an engrossing story, while the competition has to find ways to build the tension though other means. This is what Blackwater has done for his first foray into novel writing and in doing so delivers a very enjoyable page turner from the outset.

The main character of Danny is believable as are some of his other more experienced contemporaries, Blackwater has learned quickly enough how to make sweat come off a page and make you feel as if you are living and breathing every step with the protagonist. In this case its sweat, salt water and a howling gale, which at times made me want to sit further back in my seat to shelter from the elements. Danny’s English character helps him stand out from the other characters, largely made up of Scottish crew, with a couple of foreign characters thrown in.

Chris Blackwater

While reading the book I had a   yearning to hear the book in audio format, so as to  get the crew’s deep Scottish brogues. I’ve often said, I could go to sleep listening to Nicola Sturgeon reading a thesaurus or a takeaway menu and maybe if she read this to me over the phone, I’d be in my element even more than I was. 

Blackwater also makes sure that the story reflects the fact that the oil rigs are moving with the times and that there is some sort of workplace equality and that there are some hardy women working onboard. represented in this case by the gemma, the no nonsense Scottish Heli-Admin. There’s also topicality, with references to the Piper Alpha disaster in July 1988.

This is English author Chris Blackwater’s  ( @chrisblackwater ) debut Novel. He’s a Chartered Engineer by trade who started writing to relieve boredom while working offshore platforms and shipyards in England all around the world. His short stories have appeared in various publications and anthologies. Nowadays Chris lives on the South Coast of England, where he spends his time kayaking and sailing on the Solent. 

So, if you are looking for a taut and fresh debut from a promising new thriller writer, Slip down to your local bookshop or drill down into the the worldwide web and order a copy online. Then batten down the hatches and prepare to be blown around by this thrilling debut.

Reviewed by Adrian Murphy

This book review is part of a Random Things Blog Tour, to see what the other reviewers thought, visit their blogs listed  below. Then, if you get a copy, come back and tell us what you thought. We’d really appreciate the feedback.



Having lived in the Irish Republic for the past forty three years, the Troubles have been a part of my life indirectly for most of it. If I had lived closer to the border, things would’ve been different, but with it being a two hour drive from our front door, most of what went on up there in my lifetime was viewed through a television screen. To this day I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve crossed the border. In that time I have only visited Belfast, Newry and the Giants Causeway, Although having watched Derry Girls on Channel 4, I’d like to go to Derry and walk its walls, but it’s a bit of a hike, being on the very north western edge of the Province. This year’s first book review is set in Derry, just after the start of the Troubles, its The Bomb Man by Andy Greenaway and was self-published in September 2021 and available on amazon

In Northern Ireland in 1973, the Catholics and Protestants are at war. The IRA have unleashed a bloody bombing campaign, indiscriminately killing, civilians as well as policemen and soldiers. Bomb disposal expert Dave Thomson is sent to Derry by the British army.  His job is to dismantle the numerous devices planted across the city on a daily basis. One day, while on a job, he captures a young IRA bomb maker and forces him to dismantle his own bomb, when word gets back to the Republican High Command, they put a price on Thomson’s head. With a month left till his tour finishes, can Dave survive to make it safely home to his family.

One of the first things to strike me about this book and its story, was that I couldn’t at times get my head around the fact that I was reading about what people consider to be history. Even though at that time I was three, and I still feel as if it was only yesterday and some of the descriptions, such as Dave’s wife cooking him a fried breakfast each morning with lard, almost turned my stomach, although my mother probably did the same back then too. 

I did like this book, especially the feeling of viewing the whole thing in my minds eye with a sepia filter, which was brought about by Greenaways writing. Nothing is colourful, it always seems to be raining and  there is a gritty existence portrayed in the lives of the citizens and main characters in the book. The story is based on real events, in this case Greenaway’s dad was in the Army and served as an bomb disposal expert in Northern Ireland.

Overall It’s not as taut or on the edge of your seat as I was expecting, but it is a good read with an excellent depection of the twisted and fraught lives of those involved. Whether they be the warring factions, or their families, and the men and women of the police and armed forces, who are caught in the middle.

Andy Greenaway

Another nice thing about the book, is that it comes across as very educational. If you didn’t know much about the troubles or the background to it, Greenaway gives enough detail about the spark that led to it. As well as enough of an understanding of how the British army found themselves on a steep learning curve trying to deal with or fight a Guerrilla war. For example depicted excellently in the book, is the fact that quite a lot of the modern bomb disposal techniques and equipment used today, were developed for use in Northern Ireland. Things such as the bomb suit, the cumbersome body armour worn by bomb disposal experts, to provide protection if a bomb goes off while they attempting to defuse it. Along with radio jammers, to block remote detonation signals and RPV’s(Remotely Piloted vehicles).

If I had any reservations about this book, its that at times the way the attempts on Dave’s life are thwarted, seem a bit comical. They may have been a Guerilla outfit, but at the heart of it and as seen in other parts of the book, the IRA thugs are cold blooded killers. Who will drink with you one day, but mutilate you the next, without batting an eye lid, because they might suspect  you of being an informant. I was at the start expecting something similar to the 1947 film Odd Man Out starring James Mason, a real cat and mouse story, spread over the remainng days of his tour, but in the end you get a decent enough ‘will they/ won’t they tale, with a bit of drama at the end.  

This is English author Andy Greenaways first novel. Based on the stories his dad told of experiences as an Amunition Technician in Northern Ireland, Andy got his dad to write them down before he passed away. Andy was born to Military parents and thus his formative years were spent in various parts of the world depending on where his father was based. He now lives in Singapore.

So, if you are looking for an educational and interesting tale of danger and intrigue set amongst the early days of The Troubles in Nortrhern Ireland, then get on to amazon and order a copy of Greenaways book.

Reviewed by Adrian Murphy

This book review is part of a Random Things Blog Tour. To see what the other reviwers thought, visit their blogs listed below. Then, if you get a copy, comeback and tell us what youn thought. We’d really appreciate the feedback.



Happy New Year, if you missed our announcement on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, here are our TOP 5 Reads of 2021 (In no particular order):

The DARK ROOM by Sam Blake ( )

UNCOILING THE ROPES by Clare Sheridan ( )

LINE by Niall Bourke ( )

DIVING FOR PEARLS by Jamie O’Connell ( )


We hope you enjoy revisiting these great book reviews or checking them out for the first time, if you missed them previously.

We’ll be back with our first book review of 2022 next week.

Till then, we wish you a very Happy New Year.

Adrian & Georgina Murphy