Review: Paul Ruddocks Very Entertaining Short Story Collection, “Not What you Thought?”

echoesofthepen:

Some kind words and an encouraging review on my first book from the very talented Andrew Updegrove, author of the highly acclaimed ‘The Alexandria Project.’

Originally posted on Andrew Updegrove: Tales of Adversego:

Not What you ThoughtOnce upon a time – and a very long time it was – the short story was a well-respected form of literary fiction as well as an essential thread in the warp and woof of everyday life. Whether we’re speaking of one of Aesop’s moral lessons or an offering from one of the many modern day exemplars of the form, ranging from F. Scott Fitzgerald to Isaac Bashevis Singer, there has always been a wide appreciation for a good, entertaining, short read. Until, for some reason, they wasn’t.

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The Inlooker – Book Review

terrytumblerAnother book from within the ranks of my Indie Author Review Exchange Fb group.. The Inlooker, by Terry Tumbler.

Terry Tumbler, like myself, is one of our more ‘mature’ members, having taken up writing relatively late in life when time and circumstances made it possible. Now retired, Terry Tumbler currently lives in Spain with his wife. Prior to his current writing endeavours, he spent the greater part of his working career in the computer and I.T. industries. In addition to the Inlooker, Terry tumbler is the author of several other comic Sci-Fi novels, details of which can be found at both his website and Amazon Author page. 

Further links to the author and his writing can be found at:

http://www.terrytumbler.com/

Terry Tumbler’s Amazon Author page:

http://terrytumbler.blogspot.co.uk/

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The Inlooker

 By Terry Tumbler

(Available from Amazon)

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terry1Although primarily a science fiction book with many traditional science fiction themes, there are all sorts of other elements thrown in the mix too: sharp political satire and intrigue, comic and dark humour, and a host of funny yet chillingly accurate observations of the world we live in. The main premise of the book is a man who has the ability to look into and subjugate the will or ‘soul’ of others – whilst not an entirely new concept in the world of science fiction, or indeed other genres, its treatment here is both funny and original, and at times, bordering on the comically distasteful; the central character, upon learning of his newfound abilities, does little to ingratiate himself with the reader, initially choosing to use his abilities to gratify some of his own baser instincts and sexual fantasies, along with inflicting his own unique brand of vigilante justice on several wrong-doers his abilities lead him to – In fact, Thomas Beckton actually comes across as quite dislikeable, and never truly progresses to the point where the reader can or might want to identify with him in the traditional ‘hero of the story’ sense, but neither is he one that the reader find it in their hearts to wholly reject either. In many respects, our central character is somewhat of an anti-hero; with his god-like abilities and power to shape world events, he is remarkably unassuming most of the time, quietly (and not so quietly on occasion) shaping and directing mankind’s future, quite ruthlessly when called for, and with a quite chilling disregard at times for those he is manipulating, yet still retaining a semblance of humanity about him.

The narrative is well written, and although written in the third person, perfectly matches the tone and feel of the central character, giving much of the book a sort of first person feel to it, but without any of the restrictions that come with such a perspective. Likewise with the dialogue – sharp, witty, and often quite caustic in its observations, but always complementary and wholly in tune with, and effortlessly interwoven into the narrative. This is definitely a book where the author’s voice and I suspect much of his own character, really shines through on every page and in every word and idea within the book.

If I had but one minor criticism it would be the author’s use of an explanatory introduction to each part of the three parts of the book, sign-posting as it were what’s to follow – I know this is a popular and often effective writing technique but personally I feel it to be unnecessary here, that the strength and clarity of the author’s writing allows the story to unfold quite naturally without the need for any such artificial pointers.

My overall rating for this book would be on the plus side of 4.5 stars, the slight deduction being on account of the unnecessary introductions as already referred to, but apart from that, I found this to be a highly original and indeed funny take on some traditional science fiction themes; the author’s treatment of aliens and their technology, spacecraft, and extra ordinary abilities and powers, was reminiscent of say Douglas Adam’s Hitch Hiker’s Guide or Grant Naylor’s Red Dwarf writing, but without trying to imitate in any way, creating its own unique and refreshing comic sci-fi style with added touches of Jonathan Swift’s political satirical style thrown in. If you like your science fiction a little zany with a touch of sharp humour, definitely worth a look!

Further works by Terry Tumbler:

Santiago Tales

Seb Cage Begins his Adventures

Magic Carpets, Turkish Carpets

The Rough & Tumbles Of Early Years

terry5 terry2 terry4 terry3

All Bloggers and Writers Should be on Flipboard: Here’s Why, and an Idea on Collaborating

echoesofthepen:

An interesting article on using the mobile app. ‘Flipboard’ for blog and book promotion…

Originally posted on Silas Payton:

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If you’re not Flipping your writing, you should be.

How are you driving people to your blog?

If you have a blog, chances are you want people to read your words. If you didn’t, you’d be keeping them on your computer and not loading them up for the world to see. Once you have a blog and some content, the trick is to get people to your site…to get people to actually tune in and see what you have to say.

Most bloggers I know turn to Twitter and Facebook which are fun and a great way to build a following and meet connections. But, one of the best ways I have found to increase hits on my blog, is with Flipboard. It involves a very low time commitment and draws viewers from around the world. Once you have it set up, you can load post in seconds.

A…

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A Taste of Honey – promotion

echoesofthepen:

One of my favourite authors, whom many of you will already be familiar with from some of my reviews of his work here… Tom Benson’s latest novel, A Taste of Honey, is currently on a Kindle countdown promotion, and in his latest blog post he gives us some insight into how such promotions work…

Originally posted on Tom Benson - Creative:

This week, commencing Sunday 29th March 2015, I am promoting A Taste of Honey with a Kindle Countdown Deal.

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What does that mean to the buying public?
Although the title of the promotion suggests a countdown, it is the period of the promotion that is counted down – not the item price. The item price starts low and goes back up.

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How does it work?
– The book price is adjusted by the author to be at an accepted minimum price, and that is a minimum set by Amazon; not the author.
– The book will be available at the lowest price for a period of perhaps one, two or three days.
– The price will go up in increments at each stage, until it returns to the original price after the week-long promotion.

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In the case of my books I maintain a low price. I…

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Henchmen – Book Review

Eric1This is a book that has been on my tbr list for some time now; for some reason the cover and the title just didn’t prompt me to pay it much attention, but seeing the increasing number of good reviews it was getting from within my Indie Author Review Exchange Fb group I thought it was high time I gave it a closer look. In addition to being an active contributor to a number of online review groups and a regular blogger, a he is also a programmer, a database engineer, and Kenpo practitioner. He enjoys martial arts, coding, and of course, writing. Henchmen is his first novel, and he has written a sequel to this called ‘Arise.’

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Further links to Eric Lahti and his writing can be found at:

www.ericlahti.wordpress.com

www.facebook.com/EricLahtiAuthor

www.ericlahti.com

Eric Lahti’s Amazon Author page:

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Henchmen

By Eric Lahti

(Available in eBook format from Amazon)

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HenchmenWhere do I start with this one? This is a full-on action thriller that throws in elements of Sci-Fi, mysterious aliens, the supernatural, and a body count not seen since the days of the great flood. The Henchmen are a varied group of guys and gals you really don’t want to get on the wrong side of; led by a seven foot bullet-proof Amazonian blond bombshell, this assortment of characters possess both the will and the skills to literally change the world. Anyone expecting a typical macho ex-military commando type outfit will be pleasantly surprised; apart from Eve, their super humanly strong and virtually invulnerable leader, among the Henchmen there is the latest addition to the group, a drop dead gorgeous kick boxing ex-nude model, Jessica, who doesn’t think twice about killing someone in the most brutal of ways when circumstances demand, computer and security system hackers gay couple Frank and Jean, Jacob the gun mad biker, and last of all, Steven the narrator.

Despite their propensity to violence and a desire to kill off the entire American Congress, you can’t help but like every last one of the Henchmen. The book completely turns on its head the idea of good and bad guys; the violent chaos causing Henchmen are superb in their role as sympathetic super villains, while the American Government is clearly cast in a bad light. Some of the background plot, and just what it is the Henchmen hoped to achieve was a little light on detail at times, but then again, any attempt to elaborate there might well have slowed down the pace; there’s plenty of explosive action, fighting, fire-fights, and realistic and accurate weaponry and computer security detail to give the book authenticity in these areas, but not so much as to bog the story down in such detail. Given the unusual nature of some of the characters and the mixture of genres, the reader does have to suspend disbelief to some extent, but you’re so engrossed in the moment of what’s happening you rarely give it a second thought.

Written in the first person from the perspective of Steven, the author manages to give the narrative a real sense of character and a distinct ‘voice.’ By making the narrator a close ‘member of the team’ so to speak, the author managed to combine the intimacy of this point of view with the sort of overview usually associated with a third person perspective, yet still providing the opportunity for some sharp and witty humour and satire by way of Steven’s own thoughts and observations of those about him; the author’s ability to lampoon and caracature the male psyche was as funny and sharp as I’ve read in a long-time.

Following a literary roller coaster ride of combat and fire-fights leading to a literal world changing finale, the author nicely rounds up the conclusion, giving a brief post-script to the characters. I did think that some aspects of the cataclysmic conclusion were a little vague, and there are lots of unanswered questions about the characters, in particular the Amazonian like, Eve, but given there’s a sequel, one imagines much of this may well have been intentional. Overall I was kept hooked from start to finish, laughing out loud at times, and gasping for breath at others. Will I be reading said sequel? Absolutely!

Sequel to Henchmen – Click on thumbnail for details:

Arise

Saving Grace – Book Review – Kindle Short

kathyTucker‘Saving Grace’ is a short story, or what is often referred to now as a Kindle Short. W.K. Tucker is someone I met during the AtoZ April blogging challenge by way of posts we both responded to, and have since kept in touch via blogging. Although relatively new to self-publishing and the world of amazon publishing, W. K. Tucker has a long and successful history of short story writing, having been published in various magazines over the years. In addition to ‘Saving Grace,’ she is also the author of another short story, ‘Pearls Before Swine,’ also available as a Kindle Short from Amazon.
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Further information and links to the author’s work, along with several free short stories and poetry can be found at her wordpress blog:
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http://wktucker.com/

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Saving Grace

By W. K. Tucker

(Availabe as an eBook Kindle short from Amazon)

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Tucker1This is a lovely and delightful little story. Aggie, the narrator, is an elderly woman living alone in a remote house in some woods with just her ageing dog Penny for company most of the time. One night something extraordinary happens – something lands in the woods, something ‘otherworldly’ from the sky, and together they discover a small almost transparent jellyfish-like creature. Being a good and kind woman, and seeing that it’s cold and in need of help, Aggie takes the creature in, naming it Grace; what follows is a gripping story of how the creature develops, and how it more than repays the kindness and trust shown by both Aggie and her dog, a kindness that the whole of mankind will ultimately benefit from.

Written in the first person, Aggie conjures up a perfect image of the deep south of America, of the southern cornfields, rocking chairs on the porch, and the old ageing dog in the background. Not only does she achieve this through some quaint imagery and terminology, but she takes the brave decision to write entirely in the local southern dialect and accent; whether this would be a good idea in a longer story I don’t know, but here it works perfectly, giving the narrative and dialogue a real flavour of the south to them. There are some subtle references that add to the atmosphere too such as her mistrust of the ‘government’ men who may take an interest in ‘Grace.’ Although ultimately this has a real feel-good factor to it, there is a nice mix of danger and suspense too – an effective blend of sci-fi and horror all mixed up in a very real down to earth setting. My only disappointment with this story was that it eventually had to end. Highly recommended.

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Also by W. K. Tucker:

Tucker2

A Taste of Honey – Book Review

writingmagazineThis is the latest book by author and fellow blogger, Tom Benson, whose own blog features high in my list of ‘follows.’ Although only recently published, A Taste of Honey has already received a number of very favourable reviews and is proving to be Tom Benson’s most successful work to date. Coinciding with this latest success, the author has also been featured in the latest edition of the UK nationally available Writing Magazine.

Tom is a prolific writer of short stories, flash fiction, novels, and a number of poetry books. In addition to being a great writer and author, he also takes the time to offer advice and support to fellow writers and bloggers. He also contributes to numerous online writing groups, and TBmagazineis one of the founder members of the Indie Author Review Exchange Fb group.

As well as reading this excellent novel, take a look at his blog, as there are some equally excellent short and flash fiction stories to enjoy too along with an absolute treasure trove of writing tips, and highly informative and essential self-publishing advice…

.Further links to Tom Benson’s novels and other writing can be found at:

http://www.tombensoncreative.wordpress.com

http://www.tombensonauthor.com

Tom Benson – Amazon Author page:

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A Taste of Honey

By Tom Benson

(Available as an eBook from Amazon)

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TBhoneyThis latest book from Scottish born Tom Benson epitomises what the author does best – fast paced and hard hitting retribution themed action. On the surface this is a relatively simple story of revenge for the loss of a loved one but as the story progresses and expands, the reader is plunged into a nightmare world of unimaginable horror and brutality where the official wheels of justice just don’t suffice; there are some crimes for which the sanctions of a civilised society simply don’t bear any relation to the deserved punishment for said crimes, where the prescribed punishments available most certainly do not fit the crime, and it is in this dark place that the central character, police officer Kimberly Forest, with the help and expertise of colleagues and contacts made through here police work, emphatically redresses that problem. Rather than follow the official lines of inquiry and investigation, Kimberly Forest decides to embark on her own quest for justice, soon discovering the true extent of the horror of  what has happened – the central protagonist maybe a police officer, but she’s also a human being; whilst most people would be stricken with grief at the death of a loved one, particularly if that death was in horrific circumstances, and no doubt speculate as to what they would do were they to confront such brutal killers, for most it world remain just that, grief fuelled anger and speculation. But when such anger is combined with the requisite training and skills to carry out such thoughts of retribution, there will always exist the potential for extreme retaliation, which is what we have here…

The story gets off to a quick start, immediately alerting the reader to the tone and pace of the book; equally and as quickly apparent is the author’s trademark attention to detail and the obvious degree of research that has gone into the writing. Although born and raised in Scotland, the author has ensured that this American based thriller is wholly accurate in its portrayal: the dialogue, object nouns, and terminology – even down to the alternate American spellings – has been written from an American perspective, giving the book an added authenticity that might otherwise be missing. A particular point in mind with regards to this is where the main character thanks an ex-marine for his service to his country, a typically American characteristic.

The descriptive elements regarding the assorted weaponry that crops up in the book is both accurate and detailed, just as I would expect given the author’s own background, but what was more impressive was that these were effortlessly incorporated into the narrative without reading like a list of gun specs; likewise with other elements – at various points there are descriptive passages interwoven into the dialogue and narrative, but in such a way as to be totally relevant to the story and what the characters are doing – such as when there is a brief account of the rear seating set-up within a police custody vehicle and the reasoning for it (as some featured bad guys also learn to their cost).

Remaining with the descriptive elements though, it must be said that the level of detail in the violent aspects of the book is both full and explicit, as is the language and dialogue – this is not a book for the faint hearted or for those who prefer such detail to be left to the imagination. It could be argued that perhaps such levels of explicit detail might be construed as gratuitous, but for me personally they worked well in bringing home the levels of grief, horror, and anger it would take to drive an otherwise law abiding police officer to such drastic lengths. Such explicit detail does inevitably though raise questions of right and wrong and the morality of taking the law into your own hands, blurring as it does the fine line between justice and bloody unadulterated revenge. It’s in this one respect I would have liked to see a greater exploration of the central character’s grief and perhaps eventual reaction to it. I appreciate that she had to remain unemotional and totally focussed to carry out her plans but at times the consistency of her hard unemotional persona was slightly too much to accept given the horror of her loss.

For fans of action, violence and retribution themed justice this will be a real treat. This is more a plot and story driven book as opposed to one of literary depth and characterisation, though the characters are still believable, rising well above the clichéd level I’ve occasionally read in superficially similar books. It’s also worth mentioning there is a brief appearance of a character, and reference to a couple of other characters from one of the author’s other books, Beyond the Law, which although not essential to have read previously does give an insight into the wider framework of the characters and world in which the author’s novels take place… Overall? Absolutely loved it!

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Other titles by Tom Benson:

TBpanama TBbeyond TBamsterdam TBshorts1 TBshorts2

 

 

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Park Avenue to Park Bench – Book Review

 

Short story writer and poet, Mike Domino, is yet another very talented writer I discovered via my Indie Author Review Exchange Fb group. Previous to Park Avenue to Park Bench Michael Domino published three books of short stories and a novella: Wandering MindCadillac on the BoweryLoud WhispersTime to Pay the Rent

Author Michael Domino found his voice first as a writer of poetry. He composed two collections titled Cadillac on The Bowery and Wandering Mind.  From there he moved on to the art of the short story after realizing that many of his poems and prose were in fact stories in the miniature.  He is now working on his first Novel. Further information and links to the author’s works can be found at:

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http://parkavenuetoparkbench.com 

& at his WordPress blog: 

http://michaeldominowriter.com/

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Park Avenue to Park Bench

By Michael Domino

(Available from Amazon in both eBook & print formats)

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MD1We’ve all seen pictures and film representations of New York but here we have a collection of short stories that really portray the everyday life of its inhabitants and the character of the city, from the splendid sky scrapers to the dingy motels, of high flying business men to the street side bums. What impressed me most was the author’s ability to truly put me in the shoes of the characters, as though I too were walking those same streets and avenues of that great city. The language and terminology all had a distinct New York feel – even if you’ve never actually visited New York, you really feel as though you’re there; Michael Domino takes the reader into the heart of his world, telling tales that are a splendid mix of both the past and present, and of the changing face of the city as its many old buildings and enterprises slowly give way to the new.

Whilst there is a real and uplifting ‘feel good’ factor enshrined within the streets and character of New York throughout the book, every facet of the city and its varied inhabitants are explored here; a billionaire business man whose gone from rags to riches, hence the title of the book, second and third generation Italian/American pizza restaurant owners adding to the rich character of the city, the stereotypical private investigator meeting up with a client in a pizza place, ex-convicts living by their wits, a gypsy fortune teller giving a self-doubting writer a glimpse of the future, and above all, stories of everyday people going out of their way to help their fellow New Yorkers; any perception of New Yorkers as being too busy or too focused on their own lives to allow time for their neighbours are emphatically dispelled here.

The writing and descriptive elements were without doubt absolutely brilliant, and the dialogue was as rich and varied as the stories and people themselves. What was also interesting was that not one of the stories relied on any sort of twist in the tale or contrived ending to give them meaning, relying instead on the story as a whole to provide the reader’s enjoyment. I did feel a couple of the later stories in this collection veered away slightly from the character and feel of most of the early and midway ones, but not to the detriment of the collection, showing as they did a slightly different perspective. There’s no doubt that much of the author’s own life and experience has gone into these stories, as he clearly states in the introduction, giving each story a genuine authenticity. One of the best short story collections I’ve read in years, and as a committed fan of the genre, that’s quite something. Looking forward to reading more from this author…

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Michaels Domino’s other works: click on thumbnails for details

MD2 MD3 MD4 MD5

 

 

One Night in the Hill Country – Book Review

Felipe Adan Lerma is a prolific author, having written numerous books in a number of genres ranging from short thrillers, as reviewed here, to poetry, photography, travel, and many more. He is also a prolific book reviewer, contributing to a number of online Indie author review and writing groups as well as offering help and advice whenever and wherever he can. On a personal note he has also proved to be an invaluable and valued member of my own Indie Author Review Exchange Fb group.

 

Further links to the authors numerous novels and poetry collections can be found at:

www.felipeadanlerma.com & the author’s Amazon Author page

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One Night in the Hill Country

(Adan’s Thriller Mystery Suspense Books)

By Felipe Adan Lerma

(Available as an eBook from Amazon)

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Felipe1At thirty thousand words this is a short story just a tad short of novella length, but one that punches well above it weight, holding its own against the depth and intricacy of longer works. It tackles the controversial issue of child trafficking and abuse as the vessel for the main story, namely that of the misguided but presumably well-meaning efforts of a brother and sister, Rolf and Tara, in using illegal immigrant children they have abducted in order to lure the same sort of men who once hurt they themselves in order to exact some sort of revenge. There are subtle references as to what may have happened to Rolf and Tara in the past and led them to the circumstances of the story, but the author deliberately doesn’t go into detail here, instead leaving it to the reader’s imagination. As in all good thrillers though, things don’t go to plan, cue the arrival of former policewoman, Samantha, along with four young children in her care as they happen to stop by where Rolf and Tara are holding several other children. What follows is a desperate struggle for survival by children and adults alike whilst the outside authorities also seek to discover the truth of what’s happened.

The writing is crisp and to the point, avoiding unnecessary description and elaboration, employing an economy of words much in the style of the likes of Hemmingway. Just as the story is divided into nearly eighty short chapters, so too are the sentences and paragraphs short and sharp, giving the feeling of a fast paced thriller, constantly driving the story forward; likewise with the dialogue, crisp and sharp, and well interspaced into the narrative.

This isn’t a book with the same depth and characterisation of say a John Grisham or Jon Kellerman thriller, but at thirty thousand words it isn’t intended to be. What it is though is a fast paced story, with enough length and substance to it to still engage the reader throughout. Anyone who enjoys the short story genre might well enjoy this novella too; although longer than the traditional short story, the structure and style of writing makes it read as such, while still packing in way more content than the word count would suggest. It’s also worth noting that some of the characters also appear in other stories by the author thus providing a sense of familiarity and continuity should the reader read further stories in this genre by the same author. Overall, an engaging and enjoyable book easily read in one or at most, two sittings…

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A few other works by the the author: click on thumbnails for further details...

felipe2 felipe3 felipe25

 

Brother – Book Review

Another author I discovered when he was added to my Indie Author Review Exchange Fb group by fellow author, blogger and good friend, Lesley Hayes, is Jim Murray, author of two published books, the first of which I’ve reviewed here. In addition to being an author, Jim Murray has written magazine pieces in the past, and he currently runs a media company in Ireland.

Further details and links to his writing can be found at:
Jim Murray’s Amazon author page:

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Brother, by Jim Murray

(Available in both eBook and print format from Amazon)

 

Jimmurray1Although there is a clever and surprising story here, this is also very much a character driven book. Central to the story there are two brothers, Dominic and younger brother Spencer, along with the main antagonist, Lar Mangan, and finally several peripheral characters, all adding to the overall story. Written largely in the first person from Dominic’s perspective, the author effortlessly switches between sharp and witty dialogue and equally impressive narration. As well as laying the groundwork for the later story, Jim Murray initially explores various aspects of sibling rivalry, the differing and changing relationships between the two brothers and their contemporaries, family, and with those about them. There are no clear cut good, bad, or cliché characters here, but very real and well-rounded people, with all the flaws and traits of anyone you might meet.

It did take a while to determine just exactly which direction the story was taking, i.e. the events leading to the conclusion so to speak, but quite frankly it didn’t really matter as the initial and subsequent sub-plots were more than enough to fascinate and hold my attention. The quality of writing was excellent throughout; the author expertly switches between the present and the past by way of memories and flashbacks, really bringing alive Dominic’s and Spencer’s childhoods and their bearing on the present. In many respects this is a book of two halves, the first being the interaction between Dominic and Spencer and the other characters, and the second being that of the story proper, the reintroduction of and growing emergence of a past enemy, and the resolution of the main and secondary conflicts. Mixed in amid all this there is childhood bullying, sibling rivalry, infidelity, deception, family secrets and past indiscretions, murder and attempted murder, psychological manipulation, character reversals as Dominic has to change his views of those about him, and finally the shocking realisation of what’s really going on.

This debut published novel by Jim Murray is a first class well written and thoroughly entertaining story-telling treat, and one I would highly recommend giving a go.

 

Link to Jim Murray’s 2nd published book:

jimmurray2

 

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