Valley of Thracians – Ellis Shuman

Valley-of-ThraciansA Peace Corps volunteer has gone missing in Bulgaria and everyone assumes he is dead, everyone except his grandfather, who refuses to give up hope. Retired literature professor Simon Matthews launches a desperate search only to be lured into a bizarre quest to retrieve a stolen Thracian artifact—a unique object of immense value others will stop at nothing to recover.

A novel set in Bulgaria?  This is something new for me and it’s nice to get an insight into and learn about a country that is arguably – and perhaps unfairly – best known for its football team of the 1994 world cup.

My first impressions were that this was going to be a Da Vinci Code style book but I am happy to report that it isn’t and that makes me happy…very happy.

From the outset the author’s words radiate a genuine passion and a deep sense of love for the beauty of Bulgarian culture and history and gives the story that authentic feel.

The book is a slow burner with many plot threads that are unravelled then twined together and developed for the inevitable finale.  With the story sometimes reading like a travel book or perhaps an advert for the Bulgarian tourist board,not that that is by any means a criticism, I like the picturesque.

There was something soothing about viewing mountains from afar, as if the capabilities of nature to create such majesty could easily solve the trivial concerns of those who fell captive to their wonders.

The story is divided neatly into parts which seamlessly transition between plot and cultural lessons of Bulgarian idiosyncracies, geography and pronunciation.  There is a nice change between third and first person perspectives at one point as we are introduced to key character Scott which helps the book feel fresh and had me sympathising with him more than I perhaps would have done in third person…the workings of the mind render characters ever more intimate. Continue reading “Valley of Thracians – Ellis Shuman”

Running with the Enemy – Lloyd Lofthouse

Low-Def Kindle Cover December 11Apologies for not replying to or checking out your blogs of late, I shall be catching up with you all in the next day or two so keep your welcome mats out.  Whilst I’m at it, a big thank you to Mr Lofthouse for his patience whilst I battled (see that, a pun this early on) through various backlogs of various things.

Blamed for a crime he did not commit while serving in Vietnam, his country considers him a traitor. In “Running with the Enemy”, Ethan Card is a loyal US Marine desperate to prove his innocence or he will never go home again. And the women he loves and wants to save was trained to hate and kill Americans.

In the claustrophobic theatre of war, there is always a feeling of hidden yet blatant peril which could be lurking anywhere and in this cat and mouse game that takes place in various countries there really is a sense of oppressive drama and isolation.

As this is a book set in the Vietnam War, then you will probably appreciate there is a fair amount of brutality involved including one particularly grim torture scene.  This is over quickly though as the book rattles along at a cracking pace, with action aplenty but also a fair amount of army politics and a forbidden love thrown in as well.

In keeping with the real thing, a bit of technical jargon is used, some of which I wasn’t familiar with and I did have to search out some words but overall I was able to understand what was meant through context and even if you need to learn the meaning of all words like myself that you don’t know, it doesn’t detract from the flow of the book at all.

As Card and the truly sinister antagonist Ortega – an intelligent psychopath with influence who will stop at nothing for power and revenge – play out their deadly game of hide and seek to the backdrop of the grim insanity of war, we see it’s madness and lies corrupting everybody down to their deepest morals. Ortega is representative of some of the more unpalatable displays of what go on in armies – which one would be naive to think doesn’t go on – which makes him a really good hate figure.  In fact this guy has no redeeming qualities apart from the fact that he makes a character that the reader loves to loathe. Continue reading “Running with the Enemy – Lloyd Lofthouse”

Smokescreen – Khaled Talib

Yet another featured author who kindly allowed me to review his book, follow Mr K. Talib’s trendsetting and Contact Ste! if you wish to get correspond me.

At an ancient café in Cairo, two veteran spies plot a covert mission to resolve — once and for all — the Israeli – Palestinian conflict. The pledge: Israel will make a major concession as part of the peace treaty. In Singapore, Jethro Westrope, a magazine journalist, stumbles onto the scene of a murder: the beautiful Niki Kishwani directs him, in her last breath, to a digital recorder, evidence that puts Jethro’s life in serious danger. And, much worse, he is framed for Niki’s murder. Jethro sets out to find Niki’s killer and is drawn into a web of deception and intrigue involving officials from the Singaporean, Israeli, and American governments, each with a complex, competing, and potentially deadly agenda. Against this pulse-pounding backdrop, Jethro races to find answers and save himself —yet nothing is as it seems. He finds himself at the centre of a political plot so diabolical and sweeping in its world implications that he is stunned to discover tomorrow’s news headlines today. He is being set up not only as a murderer but as an assassin, and something much larger than his own fate is in his hands.

Whenever I read a thriller there is always a temptation – which I try to avoid – to mention such well-worn classic clichés such as ‘fast paced’ and ‘page turning’ and ‘labyrinthine’. In this case though that is difficult as that is precisely what this book is, however it would be disingenuous of me to dismiss them in this case.

Smokescreen is an apt title for a novel dealing with political chicanery and this is evident from the first pages, I found myself getting ready to relish a story that felt international, realistic and above all intense. I was not disappointed.  With a high body count and some nice detailing, I was in my element,  in fact I defy anyone to reach that state of mind when there is a character called Hong Kong Chong in the mix. Continue reading “Smokescreen – Khaled Talib”

Cydonia: Rise of the Fallen – Seyi David

A mere thirty days… …is what ex priest, Aaron Cohen has to stop a devastating attack on earth from elusive and ruthless forces but events soon took an alarming turn for the worse. The Vatican came under attack when a demonic bloodhound under the command of Tyrus, Lucifer’s son, went on rampage. They left destruction on their trail. As events unfold with alarming speed, Aaron Cohen’s life spiralled out of control, chased by forces beyond human comprehension; he embarked on an adventure to protect the Ark of the Covenant and the stones of fire from brutal forces intent on annihilating the human race. Set against an extraordinary and enigmatic church of St Mary, Axum in Ethiopia, Aaron fought with demons, escaped assassins’ bullets and every attempt to halt impending doom seemed slimmer than ever.

agp-sd-c-cover-3dfileAnyone pootling around these here local parts of WordPress recently will have noticed our fellow blogger Seyi and others have been bigging up her new book.  Rather belatedly I have gotten around to doing a review of Cydonia – which was released in December – and after a busy period, I have finally finished the book and am ready with my verdict, which is thus: Continue reading “Cydonia: Rise of the Fallen – Seyi David”