Still tormented by the disappearance of his wife, ex-intelligence agent James Ryker sets out on a personal mission of revenge, prepared to go to any lengths in search of the truth.
The trail takes him from the crystal waters of Mexico’s Caribbean coast, back to a place he thought he would never set foot again - his country of birth, England. But there he discovers more than even he bargained for. Stumbling across a terrorist attack targeted against his old employers - the secretive Joint Intelligence Agency -the faint clues to many events in his recent past are all seemingly linked to one mysterious character; The Silver Wolf.
But just who is the Silver Wolf, and why is he hell-bent on punishing not just Ryker, but his closest allies at the JIA too?
Has Ryker finally met his match?
Rob Sinclair is a West Midlands based author, known for his bestselling "Enemy" and "James Ryker" series of thrillers. He began writing in 2009 and has been producing brilliantly fast paced reads ever since - with "The Silver Wolf" continuing Ryker's story with pace, tension, and skill.
The "Enemy" series followed Carl Logan - and after retiring under the new identity of James Ryker, he swiftly found himself drawn back into the action in both "The Red Cobra" and "The Black Hornet" - and again here in "The Silver Wolf". He's a massively compelling character, and having followed him through the series, it's rather hard not to be attached to him - he has a strength and grit that's immensely readable, and Sinclair isn't afraid to make him a flawed, developed character rather than the one dimensional leads who one often finds cropping up in thrillers.
Sinclair plunges the reader deep into the action in "The Silver Wolf" within a few pages - the reader is transported to exotic climes and into a high stakes plot that, due to the way the reader has got to know Logan/Ryker over these series, feels immensely personal. This in turn leads to a thrilling climax that's almost cinematic in its scope - and ends on what feels like the end of a chapter for Ryker - although I sincerely hope not the end of his story.
Huge fun - "The Silver Wolf" is perhaps my favourite of the Logan/Ryker stories, with a culmination of plot threads, explosive action and a focus on just how Ryker is coping with all that life has thrown at him. These are high quality, superbly written books - give them a read and you'll be sure to have a wild ride with Ryker.
June, 1348: the Black Death enters England through the port of Melcombe in the county of Dorsetshire. Unprepared for the virulence of the disease, and the speed with which it spreads, the people of the county start to die in their thousands.
In the estate of Develish, Lady Anne takes control of her people's future - including the lives of two hundred bonded serfs. Strong, compassionate and resourceful, Lady Anne chooses a bastard slave, Thaddeus Thurkell, to act as her steward. Together, they decide to quarantine Develish by bringing the serfs inside the walls. With this sudden overturning of the accepted social order, where serfs exist only to serve their lords, conflicts soon arise. Ignorant of what is happening in the world outside, they wrestle with themselves, with God and with the terrible uncertainty of their futures.
Lady Anne's people fear starvation but they fear the pestilence more. Who amongst them has the courage to leave the security of the walls?
And how safe is anyone in Develish when a dreadful event threatens the uneasy status quo..?
Minette Walters is best known as a writer of Crime novels - since the publication of "The Ice House" in 1992, she's won the Crime Writer's Association John Creasey award for best first novel, the Mystery Writers of America Edgar award, and the CWA Gold Dagger. Walter's now turns her considerable talents to another genre - moving into the realm of Historical Fiction with "The Last Hours", and sweeping her readers into the deadly, turbulent and terrifying world of a plague ridden middle ages England.
One thing that made Walter's crime books stand out was her grasp of character, and the viewpoints she used to tell her stories - they were never straightforward books packed with gore and violence, but often offered intriguing political and social commentaries alongside thrilling plots. That's something that, you'd think, would be somewhat trickier when plunging almost a millennia into the past and looking at the Black Death - but Walters is able to combine a truly engaging and well researched historical story with characters and threads that remind the reader of contemporary life.
A big part of this, is character - and the characters of Lady Anne, Thaddeus Thurkell and Giles Startout allow Walters to explore class, gender, race and religion in fascinating, compelling fashion whilst always ensuring that these themes are integral parts of the story rather than added on to give the book a contemporary relevance. Written with an urgent prose that pulls the reader through a vividly described landscape of death and destruction, the mix of rather incredibly drawn characters embroiled in a plot that, in its essence is a genuine battle for life and survival against the odds makes this a read that I was unable to put down.
Historical detail, a thrilling, fascinating plot and vivid, relatable characters, made this a read that I'll be recommending to all and sundry. I should warn that several plot strands are left very much open-ended, but that's only served to fill me with excitement for the upcoming sequel. Bravo Minette Walters - a brave change of genre, but one that has paid off in spades!
After a devastating breakup, loser Marty Melon doggedly reassembles his shattered self. Confidence-boosting Ted Talks, muscle-crushing kettlebell swings, and key episodes of "The Golden Girls" transform him from zero to b-list hero. This suicidal reject, turned pickup artist, turned sensitive new age guy, finally has it all: a house, the quirky woman of his dreams, and abs.
F#%k you, world, he thinks with alpha confidence.
“Challenge accepted,” the world replies, and everything goes to zombie crap.
Will Marty make it? He’s no longer an average frustrated chump. He’s in the best mental and physical shape of his life. "Ninja" bro-crush and gay-best-friend Gary is at his side. But to triumph in the end-of-days, Marty must defeat his most dangerous foe of all—the woman who broke him in the first place.
Steven Bereznai is an author, Travel Writer, Wellness practitioner, recreational water polo player and a big fan of science fiction. I've previously read (and loved) his "I Want Superpowers" - a dark dystopian YA tale that blended all the best elements of the X-Men with The Hunger Games into a compellingly plotted story with a fantastically strong lead character.
As a result, I was particularly excited when my copy of "How A Loser Like Me Survived The Zombie Apocalypse" - I read the opening chapters a few months ago, and was rather delighted to see that my comments had made it to the back cover of the book!
It's the mark of a good author that they're able to write in a variety of genres - many successful authors have stumbled trying to enter new markets or take on challenges too big for them. However, Steven Bereznai does so with aplomb - moving from the dark, intense world of "I Want Superpowers" to the slightly lighter world of "How A Loser Like Me Survived The Zombie Apocalypse". Zombie novels are ten a penny these days, but Bereznai makes sure his is at the top of the pile by ensuring that his tale is told with prose that’s immensely readable, leading to a page turning plot filled with compelling characters. Those characters are where Bereznai really gets to shine – following an everyman throughout a Zombie Apocalypse, Bereznai avoids falling into cliché, and instead creates a real heart for his story – you’ll laugh and cry with these characters, and that’s quite an achievement. There’s also a wonderful thread of dark humour running through the book too - it’s knowing and witty –even when things seem bleak for the characters and allows for the reader to be enjoying themselves in spite of the circumstances, carried through on a wave of warmth and goodwill for characters like Marty, Heidi and Gary. They're built up well throughout the book - and whilst there's bleak humour to be found everywhere, Bereznai also explores exactly how people would react in a situation like the Zombie Apocalypse, with remarkable depth - there's a real empathy and humanity at the core of this book. Bereznai is also skilled at throwing in many a pop culture reference, and they’re well targeted – landing accurately and cleverly on target – no misfires here. If you’re a fan of the Zombie genre – then “How A Loser Like Me Survived the Zombie Apocalypse” should go straight to the top of your pile. If you’re not, but enjoy compelling and exciting tales told with intelligent prose and no end of interesting characters – then you should give it a go too. Anyone with a brain, half a brain, or a penchant for eating brains will have a bloody good time with this book - I certainly did, and I'm not undead (yet).
When Anita Naakka jumps in front of an oncoming train, her daughter, Norma, is left alone with the secret they have spent their lives hiding: Norma has supernatural hair, sensitive to the slightest changes in her mood–and the moods of those around her–moving of its own accord, corkscrewing when danger is near. And so it is her hair that alerts her, while she talks with a strange man at her mother’s funeral, that her mother may not have taken her own life. Setting out to reconstruct Anita’s final months–sifting through puzzling cell phone records, bank statements, video files–Norma begins to realize that her mother knew more about her hair’s powers than she let on: a sinister truth beyond Norma’s imagining.
Sofi Oksanen is a Finnish writer and playwright, and has published over five novels - "Purge" and "When the Doves Disappeared" the best known in the English speaking world
Kate Thompson - glamorous housewife-turned-MP - surprises everyone with her meteoric rise at Westminster. When Kate is sent as a trade minister to India, she hopes it will be her moment to shine. But, embroiled in a personal scandal, she gets drawn into a dangerous world of corruption and political intrigue...
Billionaire Deepak Parrikar - head of an Indian arms technology company - is magnetically drawn to the beautiful British minister. But while their relationship deepens, India's hostilities with Pakistan reach boiling point, causing more than just business and politics to collide. In the race to prevent disaster, can their conflicting loyalties survive being tested to the limit?
Vince Cable (yes, that Vince Cable!) was born in York in 1943. Having worked as a lecturer and an economist, he entered the House of Commons in 1997, and has been a well liked and respected figure in politics ever since - his return as leader of the Liberal Democrats a well awaited one. And now... he's written his first novel. I've never been a huge fan of novels written by politicians - my hometown is the place in Lincolnshire that first elected Jeffrey Archer to power so I've always felt a misplaced sense of guilt for unleashing his constant stream of books on to the world.
Cable has experience as a writer though - both his memoir and his account of the financial crisis are well reviewed. Losing his seat in Parliament in 2015, Cable focused on writing "Open Arms" - and it's clear that this a novel from a man who felt his career in politics was perhaps open - as it's honest, adult, and at times rather scathing of the political system that Cable spent many years in. What's reassuring though, is that dealing with all of the major political parties to an extent (his own, the Liberal Democrats are, much like in current politics, rather sidelined), Cable never veers into caricature - allowing the actions of his characters to speak for themselves, and even making me like a Tory minister - not something I ever thought all that likely!
In terms of plot, it's very much a political thriller, but one with pace, action and intriguing themes at the centre of it - and stakes that only escalate as the plot goes on. The prose isn't particularly elegant, but it certainly isn't clunky either - it does the job and drives the plot along well - a plot that Cable juggles with considerable skill.
A great debut from a legend of politics, "Open Arms" sets the readers pulse racing with a terrific plot drawn straight from the corridors of power. Perfect holiday reading - many thanks to the publishers for the copy.
1792: the blood begins to drip from the guillotine. The French Revolution is entering its most violent phase, and threatens all Europe with chaos. In the age of the mob, no individual is safe.
The spies of England, France and Prussia are fighting their own war for survival and supremacy. Somewhere in Paris is a hidden trove of secrets that will reveal the treacheries of a whole continent.
At the height of the madness a stranger arrives in Paris, to meet a man who has disappeared. Unknown and untrusted, he finds himself the centre of all conspiracy. When the world is changing forever, what must one man become to survive?
Robert Wilton works as an author and, rather surprisingly, an international diplomat. Over the years he's worked in both Kosovo and Albania, and it's clear that his experience in international relations and the internal workings of countries allows him to create books full of fascinating, complex characters and well developed worlds for those characters to live in.
His latest, "Treason's Spring" is a prequel to "Treason's Tide" - a book set during the Napoleonic Wars. Here Wilton takes things back to the French Revolution - a turbulent period evoked remarkably well by the author. Into this world, Wilton throws in mysteries, murders, and characters so vital they draw the reader swiftly into the plot, forming a tight grip on them as they move through the fast paced and often thrilling events that occur. Page turners like this can often be high in plot but rather low in quality - but there's no cause for concern here. Wilton's writing has a rich, slightly old fashioned feel to it, which when combined with his eye for historical accuracy leads to a read that's as informative as it is thrilling and transportive. Set to be the first part of a trilogy, I'm looking forward to book two - many thanks to the publishers for the copy.
While on an impromptu night out with friends, David meets Liv, a beautiful woman nearly twenty years younger. Falling harder than he thought he could a year after the death of his wife, he slowly opens up to the possibility of another relationship, love and eventually even marriage.
Don’t Let The Green Grass Fool You is a novel set in modern day Washington, D.C. and offers a contemporary view of new relationships: their requirements, expectations and repercussions…where the promise of something new can often become a cautionary lesson in living.
Jarrod Campbell is an author based in Virginia, in the suburbs of Washington DC - the author of two short story collections and a novella, he can be found on Instagram@1ozpublishing.
"Don't Let the Green Grass Fool You" follows David, a 43 year old widower as he meets the beautiful Liv - and begins to move on following the death of his wife. It's great premise, and one Campbell makes full use of, exploring the doubts, fears, misunderstandings and insecurities that form the start of a relationship. He has a knack for dialogue, allowing him to create developed and interesting characters - particularly impressive considering this is a first novel. The writing is clear and straightforward - with time given to descriptions and characterisation, but keeping things clean enough to keep the plot going at a rapid pace.
Where that plot ends up is also particularly impressive - I won't spoil things, but it certainly didn't end up where I expected it to, with a few last minute twists that are wholly surprising and hugely entertaining. The main thrust of the plot is both mature and realistic, and Campbell has crafted events well - allowing for a balanced and well paced plot - even if I'd have liked to have seen the resolution to the final, shocking plot twist!
A great quick read - "Don't Let the Green Grass Fool You" is an impressive debut that's well worth your time
It all starts with the death of Martijn van Vliet's wife. His grief-stricken young daughter, Lea, cuts herself off from the world, lost in the darkness of grief. Then she hears the unfamiliar sound of a violin playing in the hall of a train station, and she is brought back to life. Transfixed by a busker playing Bach, Lea emerges from her mourning, vowing to learn the instrument. And her father, witnessing this delicate spark, promises to do everything and anything in his power to keep her happy.
Lea grows into an extraordinary musical talent--her all-consuming passion leads her to become one of the finest players in the country--but as her fame blossoms, her relationship with her father withers. Unable to keep her close, he inadvertently pushes Lea deeper and deeper into this newfound independence and, desperate to hold on to his daughter, Martin is driven to commit an act that threatens to destroy them both.
This is a short book, but nevertheless one that took me a while to get into - the plot is immediately filled with two strong voices - and as a reader it took me a good few pages to adjust to the tone and timbre overall. However, once in, this is a book that grips the reader tightly - racing them swiftly through the plot like a fever dream. We've all heard and read about the tragic and passionate lives of artists gripped by their music - of the infamous "27" club that so many musicians end up joining, as well as the painful, tragic life of someone like Jacqueline Du Pre.
Mercier captures that angst and drive - turning his story into an almost psychological thriller - the reader has a vague idea as to the story of these characters (Lea) especially, will end - but he takes them on a fascinating journey to get to that point.
Telling the story from the point of view of two men - Lea's father Martijn Van Vliet and Adrian Herzog, a man he travels with, allows Mercier to cleverly relax on the intensity at times - allowing the tales of these two men to thread into the main plot in an extremely complimentary manner. It's the skilled balance of light and shade that prevents this book from coming too dark and gloomy, and it's testament to the author that the strands are just as compelling as each other.
For the main plot , watching the desperation grow as Lea becomes more and more obsessed by her music is worryingly irresistible, Mercier's prose almost magnetic in how deeply it pulls the reader in, helped ably by an excellent translation by Shaun Whiteside
A rapid ride of a book that gets deep under the reader's skin -Lea is a read that's both heart-racing and haunting. Many thanks to the publishers for the copy.
Valiant Gentlemen reimagines the lives and intimate friendships of humanitarian and Irish patriot Roger Casement; his closest friend, Herbert Ward; and Ward's extraordinary wife, the Argentinian-American heiress Sarita Sanford.
Valiant Gentlemen takes the reader on an intimate journey, from Ward and Casement's misadventurous youth in the Congo - where, among other things, they bore witness to an Irish whiskey heir's taste for cannibalism - to Ward's marriage to Sarita and their flourishing family life in France, to Casement's covert homosexuality and enduring nomadic lifestyle floating between his work across the African continent and involvement in Irish politics.
When World War I breaks out, Casement and Ward's longstanding political differences finally come to a head and when Ward and his teenage sons leave to fight on the frontlines for England, Casement begins to work alongside the Germans to help free Ireland from British rule
Sabina Murray is a Filipina American screenwriter and novelist - the recipient of various awards and fellowships, and a Professor at the University of Massachusetts. Murray has written historical fiction before, but never anything quite as impressive in size and scope as "Valiant Gentleman" - it's been described as her Magnum Opus, and I can certainly see why.
Roger David Casement was an Irish civil servant, activist, nationalist and poet - and, until shortly before his execution for treason, the holder of a knighthood.
Herbert Ward was a sculptor, writer, illustrator and explorer, and a close friend of Roger Casement. Before reading "Valiant Gentleman" I had a vague awareness of Roger Casement and his infamous "Black Diaries", but had no knowledge of Herbert Ward at all. The friendship that the two had spanned countries and decades - making it one worthy of the attention that Murray has lavished on it in this epic of a novel.
A friendship grown in the Belgian Congo, Murray writes the two men at the heart of this relationship with considerable skill, bringing them to vivid life and writing these fascinating, brilliant men with the care that their respective histories have earnt them. Whilst the friendship is at the heart of the book, Murray takes care not to let this read become fully male dominated, with Ward's wife Sarita entering the narrative and providing POV chapters that are wholly illuminating - shedding light on the two men as well as creating a fascinating character in Sarita herself.
Over the course of their lives and adventures, both men make decisions that surprise and baffle the reader - and the path that Casement ends up on is one that is often difficult to understand. Murray does an admirable job of conveying the motivations and passions behind the choices, but stops short of placing any judgements - instead imbuing the characters with so much life, and the novel with so much detail, that the reader is well placed to consider the moments that drove these men to their very different paths in life. Some of the situations may be uncomfortable for readers - but topics such as colonisation, betrayal and treason are never handled anything but fairly.
It is a huge book - there's no denying that. But it's one that's hugely readable - with a compelling plot drawn from life, fascinating characters who the reader will no doubt be keen to read more about, and resulting in a novel that serves as an admirable tribute to a friendship that crossed oceans. Many thanks to the publishers for the copy.
Lucina, a young Chilean writer, has moved to New York to pursue an academic career. While at a party one night, something that her doctors had long warned might happen finally occurs: her eyes haemorrhage. Within minutes, blood floods her vision, reducing her sight to sketched outlines and tones of grey, rendering her all but blind. As she begins to adjust to a very different life, those who love her begin to adjust to a very different woman - one who is angry, raw, funny, sinister, sexual and dizzyingly alive.
Author Lina Meruane is a prominent writer in her native Chile -she's published three novels, had short stories appear in various anthologies and won several prestigious prizes. She gained a PhD in Latin American Literature from New York University, and currently serves there as professor of World and Latin American Literature and Creative Writing.
The autobiographical novel is a rare beast - they're not seen all that often, and some I've read in the past have not been brilliant - the line between reality and fiction too blurred. Author Lina Meruane initially intended to write a memoir about having gone blind temporarily but, according to an interview with TheNation, found the genre too constricting - so moved over to the world of fiction. It's a choice that works remarkably well, as the truth behind the fiction here allows real passion and emotion to burn through the pages straight to the reader - a raw and bloody urgency and passion grabbing you by the throat.
The main theme of blindness allows Lina (and through her character Lucina) to explore a myrida of fascinating themes throughout - from the terms put open her in order to keep her eyes safe, through to the exploration of a relationship layered with dependency and fear, through to a woman discovering herself and learning how to live again. Location and time plays a huge part too - with the book taking place between Chile and New York and touching upon historical and cultural milestones as the character and the reader naturally come across them.
The characters here are real - raw and often unlikeable, but combined with her rather dazzling prose - gristly, elegant and bloody, it makes for a dizzying, vital read that lingers long in the mind. Many thanks to the publishers for the copy