BOOK REVIEWS

Mack Breaks the Case

February 25, 2023

REVIEWS (1)

Alison, better known as Mack, stumbles into the office of Paz Wheat one morning. Mistaken as a job applicant and with Lady Luck smiling down on her, Mack is given the job on a whim. Thus begins her career as a Private Investigator assistant. All fine and dandy except the very proper and forever bachelor Paz Wheat must now deal with randomness and chaos. Together they solve some very intricate and dangerous missing person cases and other mysteries.

John Holmes, the author delivers an unusual cast of characters and odd situations they find themselves. As the listener, we are given the front-row seat to relationships and character development. Holmes’ writing style is smooth and easy to follow. The storyline is interesting, and the characters are integral to the plot. While there were a few early characteristics of Mack I did not enjoy as I felt she seemed very shady and could betray Paz at any moment in the beginning I did grow to enjoy her character.

The narrator, Annabelle Indge provided an excellent narration with subtle changes to reflect the character speaking. Her performance was strong and steady, she spoke clearly and with energy. I thought she encompassed the story beautifully. I enjoyed listening to her and thought she was perfect for it.

Overall, an intriguing audiobook with authentic characters and situations that are reflective of the time.

There were no issues with the quality or production of this audiobook.

Lily Upshire is Winning

February 8, 2023

REVIEWS (1)

Having enjoyed John Holmes’s previous novels, including his one preceeding this, ‘Lily Upshire Is Winning’, which introduced this novel’s title character Mack, I figured this would be another good read, and indeed it was. With a change in style and subject matter, this latest novel relates several curious private investigation cases undertaken by the Brighton based PI Paz Wheat and a new arrival wildcard young lesbian rebel assistant Mack, these making for a unique investigative duo. Tales I could see well suited to a television series also, these were much enjoyed here in book form.

Legacy and a Gun

March 25, 2023

REVIEWS (2)

Legacy, a Gun, and an Engrossing Read

I was taken to many places over the course of reading ‘Legacy and a Gun’. Without these places needing to be named, or even a name given to the darkly humourous thriller’s protagonist, I found myself ‘in’ these different countries and scenes, and ‘in’ the mind and shoes of this legacy conscious politician in exile. Throughout the 103 bite-sized chapters of this novel I was looking over his shoulder for potential assassins and with him as he observed the situation unfolding back in his home country while simultaneously navigating his own perilous existence. This former defence minister was now having to defend himself and his wife Serena from possible threats at any time, with the help of some Glock 19 firearms and two hired bodyguards. As well as his unsettled, and unfaithful, wife, we meet his old friend Russo, a market stall holder in the town to which they are both exiled, who would like to see him return to politics, and also some other exiles hoping for a change in leadership ‘back home’ and a replacement of the dictator there, known as ‘the Smooth Killer’, with their Man. Two new women also enter his life, a new contact, Andrea, from the gathering of ‘prominent exiles’ to which he is invited, and an eccentric/wounded art teacher, Sasha, who he meets when he takes up art classes. Told at a great pace with great characters, and ramping up in page-turning intrigue as it progressed, I found this a compelling, and often very funny, read. Looking forward to reading more from John Holmes.

A thoughtful and oddly compelling novel

Legacy and a Gun is billed as ‘a novel in 103 scenes’, which does give an indication of the style of the book. Incidentally, as I bought my copy on Kindle, I didn’t dwell too much on the cover. As you’ll see now it’s in front of you, the author’s name has a neat little style of its own. I wish I’d noticed (and appreciated it) earlier.

Reference to a gun in the title has the potential to suggest action. There is action and, when it comes, it takes you by surprise, enhancing the sense of danger and urgency. But those scenes don’t crop up frequently. Perhaps because of that, when they do come, they jolt you, and that’s a good thing. Action and violence can become mundane if they’re used excessively.

That said, the themes of the book aren’t action and violence. Told from the point of view of a one-time minister in an overthrown government, those 103 scenes serve to reflect on his past life, contrasting it with the one he now lives in exile. An exile, incidentally, where he spends a lot of time looking over his shoulder for the unseen threat of retribution from the old country. But there’s more to it than that. His reflections also cover his marriage, the corruption of government and power, and the impact on the people ruled by those governments.

The book is a thoughtful one. At times it runs the risk of being too thoughtful, as the protagonist approaches everything in a very matter-of-fact way. And yet there is tenderness there, and anger and frustration. And fear. Just the right balance of it all. It’s not a page-turner, but it’s not a slow book either. The chapters are short, which helps the pace, and each one is a complete episode in its own right. Perhaps more cliff-hangers would have lifted the pace, but I don’t think they were necessary. This collection of scenes gradually builds up to an appropriate conclusion, leaving this reader thinking long after I’d finished reading it.