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Review: One Road In

*I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review*

One Road In is a stylish and pacy thriller from an author who has a true affinity for her genre. The cast of characters is intimate and close-knit, as is the setting – the anonymous seaside town of Rose Bay which, in the 1990s, hides a dark secret. We follow Sadie as she returns to Rose Bay to confront the past that she’d tried to escape from when an unexpected figure comes home.

The setting is unashamedly the 1990s, and Hannah seeds the time period effectively throughout the very DNA of this story. The alternating viewpoint – split the “present” in 1995 where Sadie confronts the past, and 1990, where the events that Sadie dreads to recollect are set in motion – and this is effective as the story unfolds. There’s a ominous mood throughout the book which I found gripping and had me reading to the last page to find out the true nature of the mystery.

The characters are tight and every one we meet has a meaning. Sadie and her friends Callie and Vedat are forced to confront the past through the events of the book with a growing sense of unease, with a twist at the end that is seeded earlier but the payoff is very satisfying, and the creepy, decrepit vibe through Rose Bay and the history is thick and enveloping. The story oozes tension and dread.

Hannah has an absolute verve and affinity for the thriller genre and One Road In shows she knows the conventions well, producing a taut and gripping thriller story that I thoroughly enjoyed. This is one of the greats and is a high-quality, suspenseful and impactful book I can’t recommend highly enough, from an author whose future work I’m sure to devour.

Rating: Highly Recommended

One Road In is available from Amazon as a Kindle eBook and paperback.

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Announcements, Writing

Foundations now available!

I’m really pleased to announce that Foundations – the precursor to Nightmare Tenant – is now available as a FREE download if you sign up to my newsletter!

Not signed up yet? Check out this page; once subscribed, you’ll receive an email with a link to the Foundations download page. You can download the story as a MOBI (Kindle) eBook, ePUB eBook for all other devices or a PDF.

Really can’t wait to see what you all think!

reading, Reviews

Review: Blue Moon (Paperback)

I’ve been on a binge of the Jack Reacher books by Lee Child – so much so I’ll be talking about that very soon – and picked up the so-far most current paperback, Blue Moon.

It’s worthwhile to preface why I enjoy these books – often I’ll describe them as the literary equivalent of a packet of crisps, and not a derisory comment – they’re easy to enjoy and don’t require a lot of thought to enjoy, so that makes them accessible. There’s a universality of the protagonist Jack Reacher that makes him accessible to a lot of readers – he’s rough and ready, action oriented, pragmatic but with a moral core. And the mechanism of his nomadic lifestyle, drifting across the country on a Greyhound bus allows him to pop up seemingly anywhere, just when trouble is brewing.

Which is how we begin with Blue Moon – Jack Reacher is riding a Greyhound bus as it approaches a city so unremarkable we never learn its name. He sees an old man in front of him with a bundle of cash. Someone else on the bus is eyeing up the money. The bus stops in the bad part of town. Jack Reacher saves the old man from being mugged. And we begin our descent -from being a good citizen – to bringing the bad guys to some kind of tough justice.

Blue Moon ticks off some of the aspects of my most favourite Jack Reacher books I’ve read so far – it plunges Reacher into a situation with barely any room to breathe. There’s bad guys everywhere and this leads to taut action scenes avoiding capture or discovery. In Blue Moon there’s Ukraininan and Albanian gangs controlling respective sides of town. It becomes, as the story unfolds, a very suspenseful dance to avoid being detected as Reacher unpicks both the backstory behind the Shevicks – the kind old couple who’ve hit desperate times who he helps – and the stranglehold that these gangs have on the city.

Jack Reacher books are formulaic – but that’s not a negative. Indeed, that formulaic nature is a big part of the enjoyability of this ‘literary bag of crisps’ – you know what you’re getting. Reacher arrives on the scene and trouble either erupts in front of him or his morality – righting a wrong he witnesses – leads him to discover the mystery. Blue Moon definitely adheres to the formula as Reacher slowly coaxes out the finer points of the story. It develops at a linear pace, gradually accelerating to the climax. There’s great scenes – tension, action and cunning. Reacher’s efforts to evade the detection of the gangs roaming hit-squads are tense and rewarding. His multi-layered subterfuges are quite juicy and pay off nicely. There’s some stealth and tension that reveals intricate thought behind the plot. And the final takedown at the story’s climax is quite good too – plenty of rough, street justice.

However, considering that, Blue Moon has an ugly side in that it is so gratuitiously violent.

That said violence is no stranger to the Jack Reacher books. It’s always visceral, no-holds-barred but measured in its application. One of Reacher’s traits that’s one I can relate to is that violence is a last resort, and often Reacher will warn his cocksure adversaries of their impending errors. If they choose to continue or not heed the warning, so be it.

But Blue Moon has possibly one of the highest body-counts of any of the Reacher books I’ve read so far. Indeed, Reacher, in the story, recruits a few Marine acquaintances to form some kind of rough-and-tough mercenary force that is utterly unstoppable. Sure, Jack Reacher never seems to lose, but in Blue Moon he walks over the literal piled bodies of those who crossed him. And there seems to be no comeback to that – the police are completely buttoned up to the point they’re side characters who only appear from afar.

I’d like for the stakes to be a bit higher – and for Reacher to have to work more. But for all the intricate plotting that slowly unwraps – not totally perfect, requiring some level of suspension-of-disbelief – is let down and undermined by the impotency of any judicial comeback on Reacher, and the sheer number of gangland heavies that get cut down in the crossfire. Yes, Reacher stays true to his mantra of warning those not to cross him of the consequences, and putting down those who commit immoral acts he “doesn’t like”, but the bulldozer-like approach just left me with a bit of a sour taste.

Jack Reacher is better when he’s more human, and more falliable. Yes, as our protagonist and some kind of masculine hero, we the reader know he’ll ultimately win the day. But in Blue Moon, despite some crisp, meaty scenes of tension and action, it reduces a nominally-dangerous threat – two large gangs jostling for control of the city – down to some kind of circus in how easy – and without any threat – they are disarmed and left for dead.

That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy Blue Moon but I feel it did both the best and the worst of what I expect from my literary bag of Walkers.

If I had to pick a flavour that summed up Blue Moon, I’d say: Pickled Onion. Enjoyable but with an aftertaste that lingers that’ll leave your eyes watering.

Verdict: Recommended