BREAKERS STEALS YOUR EMOTIONS AND MORE IN JOHNSTONE’S STYLISH SCOTTISH THRILLER

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Breakers Final CoverThere’s a decidedly Scottish flavour to this month’s book reviews. What with  both the Way of The Flesh, by Ambrose Parry , being reviewed at the start of the month and this, our second book review, which is also set in Edinburgh. But for the fact that there’s a a decade or two in the intervening time period, both deal with the underworld of this great city.  Whereas Parry’s book is set in the world of unorthodox, sometimes unproven techniques and quackery in the development of anaesthesia and midwifery; this book is set around the seedy world of larceny. It’s Breakers by Doug Johnstone, published by Orenda books (www.orendabooks.co.uk ) on the 16th May.

The Wallaces are a dysfunctional Edinburgh family. Angela, the mum, is a drug and alcohol addict, who can barely take care of herself let alone her four kids. There’s Barry and Kelly the eldest two, then their half siblings 17-year-old Tyler and last of all the baby of the brood, Bethany or Bean. Barry thinks he’s a hard man who does drugs and is in an incestuous relationship with Kelly, but is also a professional house breaker alongside his sister and half-brother, who he bullies into assisting him.

Tyler is the square peg is this family, who tries his best to shelter Bean from the reality of her family life. One night while on a job, the three older siblings get disturbed by Monica Holt the wife of the home’s owner. In his drug induced high, Barry stabs her in the neck leaving her for dead on the sitting room floor. But as he’s leaving Tyler takes Monica’s phone out of her hand and calls an ambulance, without Barry or Kelly knowing. The whole family are in jeopardy now as Monica is the wife of Deke Holt, one of the leading gangsters in the city. To add to Tyler’s problems, a couple of days later while doing a bit of B&E on the side, he bumps into Flick,  a posh tearaway schoolgirl, with whom he starts up an unlikely relationship. Can Tyler keep Bean and Flick safe from Barry as well as himself out of the clutches of the Holt’s and the local police.

The book is quite a small read, although most of Doug Johnstone’s books are short, this one is only 230 pages. Most of his previous books rarely hit 300 pages, which makes them ideal book club reads, but also a one sitting read candidate too. Don’t get me wrong, I like a good thick book, but short well rounded books are always welcome. The problem is some of the longer tomes can lag a bit in the middle and this is something you won’t find with Johnstone’s books.

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(C) Donegal Democrat

The story is compelling and at times rather close to the bone. So much so that Johnstone even had me fearing for the safety of a stray bitch and her puppies, who are  being cared for by Tyler and Bean, unbeknownst to Barry, in a derelict house a short distance from their own lofty perch, which is at the top of one of the few remaining high rises in the city. Although at some point you get to thinking the dog’s home is a damn sight better than the squalid flat Tyler and Bean share with their mother. Who, owing to her addictions, leaves it both covered in and smelling of, bodily fluids.

The stark reality of  the Wallace’s lifestyle is brought into focus when compared to Flick’s pampered existence. She’s boarding at a fee paying all- girls school, with access to her parent’s house and zips around the city in a sporty hot hatch.

As for the other characters, Barry is the expertly depicted in his  role as the wannabee gangland kingpin, but like most of the real life pretenders to the gangland thrones, who unlike their older predecessors, such as Deke Holt, haven’t learned to respect the products they deal in and thus have no will power when they fancy indulging in some of it. Thus they end up “Riding Dirty”as is the correct term for driving under the influence of drugs and tooled up. Leaving them being totally out of control.

Kelly just drifts along in every one’s shadow, especially Barry’s as he regularly takes advantage of her and thus in the grand scheme of things she’s a plot device. Tyler is the  main hero and Bean is the real thief among the lot of them, taking the readers emotions and holding them over a literary cliff edge, while also being the motivation for Tyler’s ability to stand up to Barry when it comes to it.

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Doug Johnstone

 

This Is Scottish Author Doug Johnstones (www.dougjohnstone.com ) tenth book, his others include Tombstoning (2006), The Ossians (2008), Hit and Run (2012), Smokeheads (2011), Gone Again (2013), Dead Beat (2014), The Jump (2015), Crash Land (2016) and Faultlines (2018). He is a Journalist and Musician, with a Degree in Nuclear Physics and  has won numerous awards for his previous works. He has received acclaim from fellow crime writers including Ian Rankin, Val McDermaid and Irvine Welsh. While several of his books have been optioned for film and television. He lives in Edinburgh.

There’s something about this book, maybe its Johnstone’s simple but gritty Scottish narrative, which delivers a strong storyline outside of the usual crime ridden locations like London, New York or LA. Maybe it’s the Scottish accent it’s self, ever since the late Mark McManus uttered those immortal words “There’s been a Mudda”, people have yearned for an engrossing Scottish writer whose stories and characters are unflinchingly raw and real. So, download a copy or pop into your local bookshop and start reading this or any of Johnstone’s previous books.

Reviewed by : Adrian Murphy

This book 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, comeback once you’ve read it and tell us what you think. We’d love the feed back.

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BROADRIBB’S THIRD BOOK WILL TAKE YOUR BREATH AWAY.

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Deep Dirty Truth AW.inddI noticed over Christmas that American TV’s love affair with remakes is continuing unabated. In the past couple of years we’ve seen the updated return of Hawaii Five-O and more recently the return of McGyver. Now, both of these have more or less kept to the basic premise of their originals, Steve Garret  still says “book him Dano...” now and then and McGyver still wears a well worn leather jacket and fixes most problems with his trusty Swiss Army Knife, much to the delight of Victoronix. But what has shocked me most over the festive season is seeing the trailer for the new Magnum PI!!!! The actor playing him is some unknown and he doesn’t even have a big bushy mustache. Also adding fuel to my ire is the fact that “Higgins” originally played by the diminutive actor John Hillerman, has been replaced by a young blonde… Sacre Bleu!!

But don’t worry because this month’s first book review, and the first review of the new year, sees the return of  a sassy female bounty hunter / private investigator. Its Lori Anderson, the creation of real life Brummie bounty hunter and author, Steph Broadribb. The book is Deep Dirty Truth and is published by Orenda (www.orendabooks.co.uk) on the 5th January.

Lori is just getting her life back together when she is kidnapped while on the school run and taken across country to Miami, where she is forced to dress in a skimpy dress and sandals, then frog marched marched up to meet her captor. Its “The Old Man” head of the notorious mob family the Bonchese’s. These two have history, he’s put a price on Lori and her family’s head after she shot her abusive husband and trusted Bonchese lieutenant in cold blood a number of years ago.  He offers her the opportunity of lifting the bounty on her head if she rescues a fixer of his, Carlton North. The only problem he’s being held by the Feds, prior to testifying in court in 48 hrs time. Reluctantly she takes the job, but when she finds out where North is being held with the help of a shady FBI source, she and North are ambushed and double crossed by “The Old Man’s” son, who is trying to depose him, leaving a couple of federal agents dead. Now Lori and North are on the run from the law and the Mob. Can she get Carlton North back to “The Old Man” in one piece, stay one step ahead of the Feds, as well as protecting her family who are also being hunted by the mob?

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This book is a real fire cracker and takes off from the first page. If you are into one session reads this is right up your street. I was one hundred pages in after opening the book, before I had to step away to take a deep breath and re-hydrate myself. Broadribb’s writing style is full on and unrelenting, but having reviewed her debut novel over a year ago and got blown away by that I wasn’t expecting anything less.

As for the characters, there’s only really one and that’s the main protagonist Lori Anderson. She’s a tough talking, hard fighting woman who can look after herself  but she’s not made of Teflon, because she bleeds and hurts, not just physically but emotionally, especially when her family are in danger.

As for the support cast, they aren’t exactly cut outs either, they are well rounded and acutely defined. If anyone comes across as a support cast its Lori’s love interest JT and their daughter Dakota. The chapters which feature them come across as more of a distraction than a way of building tension. Never did I feel like they were ever in any danger, unlike in the previous books.

Another slight niggle for me is Lori’s cellular phone. She needs a new one, like yesterday.  The story is set in present day, but her phone never seems to last longer than a couple of hours, my phone can last up to 24 hours with moderate usage.

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Steph Broadribb

This is English Author Steph Broadribb’s third Lori Anderson book. Her others are Deep Down Dead (2016) and Deep Blue Trouble (2017). The Lori Anderson series was inspired by her training as a bounty hunter in the States. She also writes under the pseudonym Stephanie Marland and her first novel a twisting crime thriller My Little Eye was published in April 2018. Her follow up to that, titled You Die Next, will be published in April 2019. Steph was born in Birmingham and later grew up in the English county of Buckinghamshire, where she still lives surrounded by horses, cows and chickens. She’s also a keen blogger and writes under the other alter ego, Crime Thriller Girl (www.crimethrillergirl.com).

If you are looking for a fresh female lead to take you through first few weeks of the new year, whose perilous adventures are always edgy and original from the get-go, then Lori Anderson is your girl. So, I suggest if you haven’t read any of the previous Lori Anderson Books, then download the first in the series or head down to your local bookshop and get a copy.

This book review is part of a Random Things Blog Tour, take a look at the other blog tour dates below and visit the reviewer’s sites to see what they thought. Then if you agree or disagree after you’ve  read the book, comeback and let us know.

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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…

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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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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.

The Lion Tamer Blog Tour Poster Final