Ben Hatch has delivered a very lively account of his travels around the UK in a Vauxhall Astra with his wife Dinah and their two children. He turns the conventional travelogue on its head, for although the reader is given a leading paragraph resume of all the places they have visited, it’s more a question of getting in the Vauxhall Astra with them, if you can squeeze in the back between the kids, the toys, the rubbish. I wouldn’t expect to alight quite as pristine as when getting in either, for we are treated to the best account of family life I have ever encountered and if this is your bag, you’ll absolutely love it! Hatch has spared us no detail in this hilarious account, though some of it I found perhaps to be just a ‘a little too much information’! He does give an interesting perspective on the places visited, how child-friendly facilities are, the appropriateness of eateries and the suitability of the various types of accommodation they stayed in; all information humorously delivered as one almost experiences this trip real-time, readily sharing the laughter whilst empathising with the disaster. And there’s plenty of it! From minor health issues to the dreadful car accident happened in Wales, not too far into the journey. It would have been so easy to give up but I’m glad to say they didn’t for they uncovered many tourist attractions familiar to me, dotted around the UK, making this a particularly interesting read.

In many respects this book has a very strong autobiographical element for we learn of Hatch’s own childhood and the places he’d visited at that time with his parents. We also learn of the tragic illness of his late father, Sir David Hatch, to whom he made reasonably frequent visits along the way, leaving Dinah with the children, during these times. This book is nothing if it’s not a slice of life as it is and therefore one can understand the author choosing to include this very sad event. I found it particularly difficult to deal with, for the empathy one felt was overwhelming and overshadowed the reading when returning to life on the road in the Vauxhall Astra. One can only admire the author for undertaking this journey at such a heartbreaking time and very much to his father’s credit he always urged his son to continue.

There’s plenty to identify with here for those who have ever experienced long car journeys with very young children. It’s often difficult and one wonders how this amazing family managed to hold it all together for that length of time. It may have helped this couple were both journalists and possibly sufficiently toughened to withstand the pace.

This book has been well reviewed elsewhere. It’s a very well recorded adventure which offers useful insight for those looking for family entertainment on their travels, but most of the gems need unravelling and I would recommend an early reading to give oneself plenty of time in advance of travelling to spot the pitfalls and maybe take a lesson or two from people who’ve been kind enough to do it first. Both Ben and Dinah along with their children, rose to the challenge superbly and had lots of fun on the way. With much, I feel, for the general reader to identify with, whether looking out, or looking in, I feel Ben Hatch has well achieved as an author capable of stirring the whole gamut of human emotions; whether they be positive or negative very much depending on one’s viewpoint. I can well recommend this book for it’s honesty and easy style, its humour and above all it’s testimony to the joys of family life.

ISBN: 1849531552

Format: Kindle Edition

Publisher: Summersdale Publishers Ltd  2009

Reviewer: Margaret Henderson Smith

Copyright – all rights reserved

 

 

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Posted by: quicksandtimerbookreviews | January 30, 2013

Carter, David: The Life and Loves of Gringo Greene

006David Carter sits very comfortably with this change of genre which is only to be expected from this highly observant, quick-witted, intelligent author whose sense of humour well permeates this particular work of modern fiction. The protagonist, Gringo Greene is a well constructed, thoroughly believable, egocentric testosterone-driven character with only one thing on his mind; particularly since the departure of Glenda Martin from his workplace, Dryden Engineering. To compensate, he plots, plans, connives, never missing an opportunity to consecutively manipulate all manner of females of varying ages into his bed on a Saturday night.

Of course Gringo Greene is a bit of a catch with that well manicured moustache and for the most part he doesn’t have too much difficulty getting his way. Yes, he’s certainly a good-looking guy who takes great pride in his appearance and for the pleasure of his company which is nearly always designed to include the ultimate experience, Gringo Greene expects his ladies to do likewise. Three strikes and they’re out if they don’t conform to his very strict dressing requirements.

Carter paints a highly entertaining scenario with contrasting characters constantly in and out of Gringo Greene’s life. From one overly large Brenda Hodges, last reserve, through a series of long-fancied, desirable work colleagues to others he’s chanced along the way, often more mature, a bit more savvy, a better match for him. Of course Gringo Greene is the prize catch, for whom of those well succumbed to his charms wouldn’t want him for their husband? Marriage? Oh no, not for him! Not for Gringo Greene, he’s as slippery as a satin slip slid to the bedroom floor. However as the story progresses one’s wondering if he hasn’t been just a bit too clever and taken on more than he can chew, for some of his lovers appear to be quietly outwitting him.
I have to say I’ve never had so much fun finding out! Carter has shown his true talent in the writing of this book. In its easy style it simply bounces along, every page sheer entertainment, compulsively turned but at the same time I found myself grateful for the sheer length of this chunky, fun-filled book because I never wanted to reach the end. I feel sure readers will be hankering after a sequel, or a prequel as Carter puts it and I hope the author will oblige.

From the start the reader readily engages with the characters, the context, the setting, the story. With its low-key running plot gradually stepping up as the story progresses, Carter has the balance just right for he allows no distraction from each of Gringo’s lover’s own tales. This has got to be one of the most fascinating books I’ve ever read, for Carter has the knack of placing the reader in the thick of it. One is hardly aware one is reading, the experience of interacting with the characters is strangely powerful, and I read this with the ease of watching a film.

I congratulate the author on this work for it takes a very clever author to be able to hold the reader’s fascination continuously in this way. He has created s superb male ‘slick-lit’ character in Gringo Greene and the work has much to commend it. Within its genre, it’s one of the best books I’ve ever read and it goes without saying I highly recommend it, without reservation.

ISBN: 9781481121460

Publisher:  TrackerDog Media 2013

Reviewer: Margaret Henderson Smith

Copyright – all rights reserved

Posted by: quicksandtimerbookreviews | December 31, 2012

Smith, T V: How to Feel Human: Punk Rock Tour Diaries: Volume Two

001I found this book, the second of three volumes (third recently published) to be particularly interesting, not least for the insight it gives to the sheer grit and determination of the life of one man whose love of performing live to his Punk Rock followers drives him to various locations around the world. Volume Two takes us north to Finland, east to the Czech Republic, west to America and other places in between. Presented in daily log form this unpretentious, detailed account does indeed give the reader, along with the mundane, a fair sense of the trials and tribulations encountered in trying to get each gig up and running, for T V Smith travels lightly and is often unsure if there will even be a bed for the night. He frequently puts up with the most horrendous accommodation and though not eating by day to ensure his very best performance, the reader will find him very often hungry, in a strange place, with nowhere to go for food. Add to this transport hiccups and delays, admin bypasses, over-bookings, under-bookings, hour-upon-hour of delays, hanging around alone, always waiting; we can appreciate the aptness of the title in the sharp contrast presented between touring and performing. All the time he’s waiting to relinquish the grind of getting to the  point at which he can give of his very best to each performance; his fans’ obvious gratitude for which, he records with the greatest of modesty.
His travels afford the reader interesting insight to these differing countries, their cultures, the customs and traditions of which emerge as he meets with fellow performers to discover just where their next gig is to be. There are plenty of surprises here but the reader soon learns the location never detracts from the performance, for as always, this very modest man not only transforms, but transcends his surroundings to deliver only of his very best to satisfy his fans. Though never explicitly stated, the reader can see clearly why T V Smith is constantly on the move, constantly meeting the demand to be heard.
T V Smith,with considerable clarity, records the amusing, the distressing, the frustrating, the satisfying. All elements of touring are here. He reveals his considerable strength in overcoming all obstacles inadvertently thrown in his path and accepts his human vulnerability to the quirks of everyday life with good grace, as he goes with the driving motivation to get both himself and his guitar on whatever stage next in order to perform.

This illustrated work certainly gives the reader a real-time sense of accompanying Smith on the journey. He records his daily entries with precision, so expect at times the tedium. It’s certainly not all excitement along the way and the inevitable monotony emerges in the truthful telling of his travels. One does, however quickly engage with a modest, good, honest, down-to-earth guy who is passionate about his music and drives himself very hard to deliver only the very best of performances. He is a man to be admired and most certainly to be read. If you appreciate gigs then I can highly recommend this book as T V Smith presents an amazing behind the scenes insight into what must be life generally lived for all those who appear to sacrifice a great deal by taking to the road in order to entertain so many, so successfully. This book, not without incident, is certainly a ‘must’ not only for T V Smith’s many fans but for all rock fans out there interested in learning about the nitty-gritty, less glamorous side of the business.

ISBN   9781845493608

Publisher: arima publishing   2009

Reviewer:   Margaret Henderson Smith

Copyright – all rights reserved

This very comprehensive work leaves no stone unturned in offering a multi-layered perspective on the whys and wherefores of where the media and in particular the press, stands today. With many eminent contributors, including journalists and academics, Richard Lance Keeble and John Mair have contributed to and compiled an outstanding work not so esoteric that a lay person such as myself cannot understand it with ease. The book is presented in five sections, the majority of articles contained therein being headed with a succinct, engaging summary allowing the reader to ‘dip in’ to a particular area of interest. The first (A) informs the current debate addressing many of the salient issues raised during the course of the Leveson Enquiry, offering the reader insight as to how the press works and the differing tensions within giving rise to the seemingly inevitable ethical/moral dilemma journalists face today. The second section (B) focuses on the power and influence of the Murdoch family and makes for very interesting reading as one learns of the interactions between the press moguls and governments in their power struggle, seemingly the latter losing out to the former corporate giants whose undoubted influence can win or lose them general elections. Section three (C ) considers how the Leveson Enquiry throws light on the weaknesses inherent in both the media and political arenas, enabling a lack of accountability to exacerbate phone hacking as a journalistic information source. We are shown how, at its inception and beyond, it was almost covertly sanctioned in the inertia of those who chose to ignore it including those parts of the press who, possibly not surprisingly, considered it not to be newsworthy. The next section (D) looks at differing aspects of ethics and also at the influence of the internet with regard to the ease with which journalists can access personal information from social networking sites such as Face Book and Twitter. Section five (E) speaks of the relationship between the police and the press, whilst the final section (F) seeks to consider the Leveson Report in the light of public interest, press freedom and independence and democratic accountability. It also asks the vital question of whether statutory regulation is the answer. The work concludes with an excellent piece by Roy Greenslade offering an historical perspective on hacking and how this disreputable activity has become the pinnacle of a culmination of malpractice over the past fifty years.

Whilst there is some content overlap, it is interesting to read the Contributors’ varying perspectives enabling a broad coverage which serves to factor in each and every component as it impinges on the issues raised. Upon the reading of this, one is left with the prevailing sense of contrition from a profession that not only is driven by but has fallen victim to the market economy, forcing it into a hard drive to entertain in order to sell. If, like me, you are concerned about democracy and the freedom of the press and want to understand better the phone hacking scandal, then I would certainly recommend reading this book. Although outside of the profession, one feels quickly drawn in. It’s right up to date and the media have ensured its familiarity. This valuable insight into the proliferation of the historic tensions existent in the media is both a well-judged and well-balanced compilation enabling the reader to see both sides of the argument leaving one better informed in light of current events. For me the reading of this has certainly been time and money well spent. Again I highly recommend this book.

ISBN   9781845495565

Publisher:   Abramis academic publishing    2012

Reviewer:   Margaret Henderson Smith

Copyright   –   all rights reserved

Posted by: quicksandtimerbookreviews | November 25, 2012

Hudson, Derick: Dysfunctional Romance

This absolutely hilarious book is a compelling read. With both protagonists having to grapple with a variety of psychological disorders manifesting in various behavioural patterns something akin to compulsive/obsessive, these unfortunates tailor their life styles accordingly. This requires total absorption, for the most part they manage to accommodate their quirky behaviour fairly efficiently, for the reader, however, it generates an intensification of humour, compounding the compulsion to laugh throughout the whole side-splitting story.
Derrick Hudson creates strong, believable characters in Barry Shaw and Sandra Wiggins. Of course they’re both looking for love and we are introduced to them in their work places. Barry Shaw being a talented advertising executive while Sandra Wiggins faces her clientele down the phone line addressing insurance claims. Think ‘work’ and the reader will instantly identify with all those anomalies, misjudgements, dirty dealings, favouritisms, innuendoes, that fall from the power structure to stir, anger and motivate the general work force into ‘getting their own back’ whether it be subtle or overt! Not to mention the inherent rivalry and hilarious interactions of the highly competitive, disparate and just plain odd, creating a set of  characters always having their eye on the top. Thus, to a greater or lesser extent Hudson identifies the familiar in each of the differing work situations. He has an eye for detail and an ability to feel the mind-set of each of his characters.
One feels one has gained hilarious insight into each of these work situations where Hudson largely gives the reader access through the sexual perceptions of the characters, needless to say with great hilarity. In particular, being party to the client brief Barry Shaw and his colleagues need to address in the board room, is one of the funniest things I’ve ever read. It certainly has the power to enlighten the female reader and had me in absolute stitches. Whilst Hudson doesn’t pull any punches regarding the anatomy of either sex, it’s not gratuitous but integral to the action and it’s absolutely impossible to take offence.
Derick Hudson’s humorous slant is delivered with such precision as to have all his readers laughing all the way to the end. His ability to factor such hilarious astute life observations into his writing with such credibility is indeed a rare talent, for this is a brilliant, down to earth story tempered with romantic interlude that one has a compulsion to continue – a very difficult one to put down. The reader’s drawn into following the protagonists developing relationship with considerable empathy. Once these crack-dodging pavement walkers meet, the story unfolds with unexpected twists and turns, her mum and dad, his dad, the fortune-teller, the postman that refuses to enter the graveyard surrounding Shaw’s converted church dwelling; whilst all the time the sub-plot, Sandra Wiggins’ best friend envying her, taking the fast, less romantic route to love. This story bounces along all the way to the end. It’s very cleverly written for the author has an exceptional talent in being able to draw in and hold the reader at every turn of the page. It’s a well constructed, easy to read story, sheer entertainment from start to finish. I highly recommend this book for it will leave the reader not only with a ‘feel good’ factor but most definitely wanting more.

ISBN – 19   1468000519
ISBN – 13  9781468000511

Publisher: CreativeSpace Independent Publishing platform 2012

Also available on Kindle

Reviewer:   Margaret Henderson Smith

Posted by: quicksandtimerbookreviews | November 11, 2012

Barrett, Patrick: Shakespeare’s Cuthbert

Patrick Barrett first introduces us to Cuthbert by way of the logical observations of a flying crow whose wing inadvertently hits a rake which falls sideways to undo the catch on the barn door leaving gormless Cuthbert face to face with the farm bull. Terrified, Cuthbert, amidst a flutter of chickens grabs a bucket, intending to clank it against the iron water pump in the trough with every intention of startling this determined animal. He misses, to wallop the bull on its nose. Furious the bull stamps its hoof into the bucket mulching the corn-chips which spray straight back into its face. Cuthbert grabs a red flannel shirt from the washing line shaking it at the bull then steps aside to allow it to charge straight into the gate post. Defeated, it slowly clanks its way back to the barn. This scene is so funny and brilliantly described by Barrett as it reflects the relationship the protagonist has with the animals surrounding him. Throughout the book we are treated to hilarious insights with Barrett humanising the farm animals giving logic to their thinking, sharply contrasting with Cuthbert’s woolly, bumbling mind-set. To add to this Cuthbert frequently comes up against the longstanding valley folk, each with their own idiosyncrasies leading to bizarre behaviour patterns emerging with side-splitting humour as the story unfolds.

Cuthbert, the village undertaker, inherited the family farm when his parents died, along with the necessity to continue as village impresario to the annual Shakespeare theatre production and therein lies the tale which for Cuthbert would have been predictable had the village not suddenly become invaded by newcomers taking residence in Mandrake Hall where legend has it Shakespeare was once employed as a tutor and the feeling still persists in the village that remains of his work are hidden there, thus suspicion is immediately aroused as to these newcomers’ intentions. Cuthbert, given to exploring the tunnels from his house networking beneath the village inadvertently stumbles upon an access to Mandrake Hall. He terrifies the new occupants ending up causing complete mayhem to the point they are convinced he’s some kind of a highly trained secret agent! Of course nothing could be further from the truth, his terrifying acts are the product of ill-conceived meanderings giving rise to an impressive series of actions causing events far beyond his intentional capabilities.

For those involved in amateur dramatics one feels immediate empathy is likely. For Cuthbert what can go wrong does go wrong! This is an intensely funny story which constantly deviates, as Barrett, in developing his characters offers insight into their life experiences, bombarding the reader with one humorous tale after another. We are looking at pure farce here, so intense it has taken me quite a while to read. One found this sheer, undiluted humour best taken in small doses, for it would be easy to lose track of the plot which is cleverly delivered; Barrett sometimes sinking the threads, taking the reader through every last hilarious detail all the way to the conclusion. Without doubt, Barrett is a highly intelligent, quick-witted, gifted author who,without innuendo, has the ability to drive his humour home by means of timing and succinct use of language. If pure slapstick’s your thing then I don’t think you could do better than this. Barrett attributes to his characters a refreshing naivety which is endearing and makes for a very comfortable read. I’m still laughing and therefore can highly recommend this book.

ISBN:  1463702191

EAN:   978-1463702199

Publisher:    Night Publishing   2011

Reviewer:   Margaret Henderson Smith

Copyright – all rights reserved

Posted by: quicksandtimerbookreviews | October 10, 2012

Burrows, Ron: The Road to Fort Duquesne

This is the third Jack Easton book, in what I hope will turn out to be a series rather than a trilogy, all of which touch brilliance. The previous two, ‘An American Exile’ followed by ‘Fortune’s Hostage’ you will find reviewed on this site and Burrows, in maintaining the momentum, certainly doesn’t disappoint with this one, either. I have to own up to an initial misconception when reading the blurb though, as the ‘historical accuracy’ element to me suggested all action taking place on the battlefield with the previous tensions being tied off merely as diminishing sub-plots, but no, none of it! Burrows ensures, without censure, his readers learn of the unfolding treachery in which Jack Easton’s enemies engage in order to save their skins and reap revenge on him. Easton an equally tormented man seeks only to reciprocate.
The action very cleverly intertwines with the sequence of historical events on which Burrows draws to set the story, bringing it starkly to life, for on the road to Fort Duquesne, the journeys in both directions prove a nightmare for Jack Easton and his worthy German mercenary scout, Sergeant Schluntz. Barely recovered from an attempt on his life by a vile enemy inflicting a gunshot wound so severe as to cause him to almost lose his life; Jack Easton, against his wife’s wishes insists on honouring his commitment to joining Sir Michael’s militia. This time the former acquiescent Rose is adamant he should not go. Even her trump card, her declaration of very sensitive news, does not hold him back, throwing her emotions into deep conflict as she hardens her attitude towards the man she loves. She’s a strong woman though and her actions in support of Jack, without thought of danger to herself, prove critical, for  this shadowy, evil antagonist permeates a ubiquitous sense of fear, haunting the landscape and all those protagonists who look to Jack Easton to deliver justice by finding him. Burrows ensures their fear of this evil man cuts straight through to the heart of the reader.
But this is not just an action packed, scary, thriller of a book, sometimes so gory one had to force one’s way through, there’s love, sensitivity, heartbreak and even occasional incidental humour as Burrows offers us a dramatic transportation to real life, eighteenth century; enlightening and educating his reader along the way. As with his previous works Ron Burrows’ supreme talent for stimulating the senses facilitates an intense appreciation of the environment in which the action is set, effectively heightening one’s emotional response to every single event, engaging the reader to the point where it’s virtually impossible to put the book down.
This supremely clever writing displays an exceptional talent which simply must be read for Burrows brings the past vividly to life and I for one am very grateful to him for the insight gained into this very important part of British-American Colonial history to which, I might add, the final Historical Notes greatly contributed.

Just one small point here, when reading a book such as this, every page is precious. With just a few pages still to go to the end, I felt so let down to find my anticipation of the final chapter evaporate as these last few pages turned out to be the aforementioned Historical Notes. However, on reflection, Jack Easton could well have more in store! If so, I’ll forgive the author for that as long as this brilliant story does not end in a trilogy! I highly recommend you read them all for yourself to find out exactly why!

ISBN 9781845495381

Publisher:   arima publishing

Reviewer:   Margaret Henderson Smith

Copyright – all rights reserved

Posted by: quicksandtimerbookreviews | August 22, 2012

Henry, Veronica: The Long Weekend

Set in a small quayside hotel in Cornwall, Veronica Henry introduces us to the owners Claire Marlowe and her partner Luca; the chef, of such charisma and good looks, one instantly senses the protagonist’s vulnerability. Having been coerced into keeping a painful secret in the family of her former lover and soul mate, it’s inevitable revelation had dire consequences for them all and we follow Claire’s drive for satisfaction in her new  life, now on a very different course. Claire and Luca have a very busy weekend ahead and rely heavily on Angelica their local employee to perform all manner of tasks to perfection. Angelica is ambitious and derives great satisfaction from her work,  a bolt hole from her appalling home life and being drawn to Luca, she does of course, have her own story to tell, as do the Parfitts. Trevor and Monique Parfitt have a substantial financial stake in the hotel and are up for the weekend to discuss and consolidate further, exciting plans for expansion which present Claire and Luca with a not to be missed opportunity. Others arrive, too, the hotel being a focal point, a place that may enable, distract, ease or facilitate answers to guilt, heartache, longing, regret. Henry gives the reader a good mix of intimate emotion along the way as the story of Claire and Luca unfolds. Her characters and their situations are solid and well considered.
This eminent scriptwriter, has produced a superb, easy, thoroughly entertaining holiday read, though I found the timing of the retrospective elements to be somewhat distracting on occasions. Nevertheless this is a good, fast-moving story dealing with relevant issues and one I can highly recommend.

ISBN  9781409135463

Publisher: Orion Books Ltd

Reviewer:  Margaret Henderson Smith

Copyright:   all rights reserved

Posted by: quicksandtimerbookreviews | July 19, 2012

Gilmore, Alex: Fish Sunday Thinking

I found this book to be sheer entertainment from start to finish. If ever a reader was presented with a “fly on the wall” situation, this is it. We are party to the everyday life of the main protagonist, Denton Voyle, a trainee solicitor. Here we have a very bright guy who is constantly struggling with his day to day life in this large London law firm. Of course, as a trainee, he’s not going to like the run of the mill stuff that is inevitably his lot for the moment, but his perception of success in this profession, resulting from his interaction with and observation of the unseemly behaviour of some of the senior partners in the firm, leads him to question whether the end is worth the means. Alex Gilmore’s precision in pinpointing all those factors that pile in to culminate in the ruin of Sundays, presents in a way I can only describe as brilliant. Here we have an extremely talented writer whose astute observation of everyday life will have the reader in fits of laughter. This is a work that is so well portrayed one feels it could still have enjoyed its undoubted success had it been written as a journal; but this is a story with a good, credible plot, very gradually and subtly introduced, the enjoyment of which is maximised by Gilmore’s occasional, clever narration. He uses this to draw the reader in, enabling one to empathise instantly with the characters. Thus one readily bonds with the protagonist’s disparate group of drinking partners of the same mind set, all of whom, facing the prospect of being overtaken for promotion, become something more to Denton Voyle than mere work colleagues. Voyle, desperate to help, somehow manages to squeeze a piece of crucial information from an unsuspecting employee and he puts much effort in trying to verify it.  This drives him to seek a solution to their mutual “Fish Sunday Thinking” dilemma. He hatches a plan to free them from their mind-numbing existence but struggles to get them on board. There’s plenty of tension in the wait to discover the outcome. Without doubt Alex Gilmore is, refreshingly, his own man and one feels his writing is not constrained by convention. I for one enjoy observation and reflection in my reading, particularly when it builds to give a strong impetus to the conclusion which happens here and I can honestly say I didn’t want this one to end. Hilarious to the last line, speaking of which, I’m afraid I am having to admit to “washing my hands”, for, though funny, I found it to be a little too coarse and explicit on occasions. Still, it would seem it goes with the territory and what’s reading all about if not to broaden the mind? This one has got to be a compelling read for all. It’s written by an exceptionally clever and talented author who, in my opinion, stands high above the rest in a very competitive field. I can with considerable confidence highly recommend it. More from Alex Gilmore please!

ISBN   1845490312

Publisher:    arima publishing   2005

Reviewer:    Margaret Henderson Smith

Copyright:    all rights reserved

Posted by: quicksandtimerbookreviews | July 19, 2012

Burrows, Ron: An American Exile

This immaculately researched novel, the first in a series, is set in the mid-eighteenth century and tells the story of Jack Easton, an exceptionally talented stonemason who works with his father and younger brother in the family firm whose cargo vessels facilitate dangerous, ongoing smuggling operations, born of necessity in order to keep the cash flowing. With each run to be the very last, the fear and tension rises as Jack Easton and his gang of workers wonder how long their luck will hold out as they attempt to outwit the Customs officers and men, factions of which are caught up in smuggling, rivalry, internal politics and corruption. From the coves of Dorset’s coast, across the stormy Atlantic Ocean to the British colony of Maryland, Ron Burrows never fails to stimulate the senses, never fails to make the whole emotional experience a real-time, roller-coaster reality ride for the reader as Jack Easton moves through many dangerous situations and is always up against authority. As one grapples with plots within plots and who’s to be trusted, one seethes at the injustice and wills him away from danger whilst swallowing hard on the tears when tragedy strikes. One’s holding one’s breath when the protagonist allows his desire for revenge to drive forward his intentions with sequential acts of foolish bravery; for those he loves are there, waiting in anguish on either side of the Atlantic, for his return. This is a truly amazing novel operating on many levels. It spans the continuum from love and tenderness to hatred, greed and violence . It is an exceptionally well-informed story elucidating both the best and worst in human nature. From the micro to the macro, Burrows reveals an innate understanding of the socio-political mores of the time, dealing with moral and ethical tensions in such a way that engages one in this cleverly structured story where no interaction is insignificant or superfluous; allowing one to take retrospective delight as events pull together whilst constantly anticipating where they will lead. I found I couldn’t turn the pages of this one, quickly enough, for it is exciting, unpredictable and brilliantly coherent. It captures the quintessential atmosphere of the time and for those with any kind of affinity with the sea, this one will have the reader well aboard that sailing ship, battling the elements as the treachery unfolds. This is an exceptional novel which deserves the success it has earned for Burrows is a meticulous and outstanding author who brings much knowledge, experience, observation and interpretation to his work, leaving one with a sense of fulfilment upon the reading of it. I cannot recommend this book highly enough.

Publisher:   arima publishing:   2007  (2009)

ISBN    9781845492175

Reviewer:   Margaret Henderson Smith

Copyright:   all rights reserved

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