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Having reviewed over 1200 books on this blog, I have now written two myself. Motherdarling is a story about a search for a missing Will which reveals long-hidden family secrets. The Kids of God is a thriller set in a dystopia ruled by fascist paramilitaries. Both are available as paperbacks and on Kindle through Amazon. I live in Canterbury, England. I lived for more than thirty years in Bedford. Having retired from teaching; I became a research student at the University of Bedfordshire researching into Liminality. I achieved my PhD in 2019. I am now properly retired. I love reading! I enjoy in particular fiction (mostly great and classic fiction although I also enjoy whodunnits), biography, history and smart thinking. Follow me on twitter: @daja57

Friday, 5 April 2019

"Only killers and thieves" by Paul Howarth

Fourteen year old Tommy and his elder brother Billy live with Mum and Dad and sister Mary in drought-struck Queensland on a cattle farm in 1885. When tragedy strikes the boys set out for revenge. "But three plus three makes six ... It doesn't take it back to none."

This is a book so vividly described that I could taste the grit between my teeth and feel the sun beat down upon my back, my throat was parched with Tommy's. When rain comes there;s's too much of it and I could feel the chafing of the sodden clothes. The scenes of killing nauseate.

The story followed almost perfectly the Three Act Structure. In the first quarter of the book the scene is set; the initiating tragedy is almost exactly at the 25% mark. The second quarter concerns their first steps towards injustice and the loss of the brothers' innocence. The third quarter rises to a crescendo with the act which ought to make redemption impossible and the final quarter contains the consequences.

The antagonist is a devil with the wonderfully ambiguous name of Noone. He tempts and leads the boys to sell their souls and then he is the instrument of punishment. This is a classic work of evil and temptation, of sin and redemption, of weakness and strength, and it is masquerading as a thriller.

This is savage and it's brilliant. It can be hard to read but it is even harder not to.

Moments:

  • "If they were dogs they'd have been called mongrels. Australian was a whole new breed."
  • "It was the same sensation as when they'd first met: the feel of him tiptoeing down Tommy's spine."
  • "Tommy spent a long time wondering what she was thinking, then he realised that he could not understand. Her thoughts were not his thoughts."
My wonderful wife bought me a subscription to Books and Beer; each month I receive a crime book and some cans of beer. The other titles I have received so far are:
  • Most Wanted by Robert Craik: a fast-paced thriller set in California
  • The Devil's Dice by Roz Watkins: a whodunnit set in the English Peak District
  • Snap by Belinda Bauer: a brilliant story about a young lad who, having become a burglar in order to survive, discovers his mother's killer.
  • Resurrection Bay by Emma Viskic: a murder mystery set in Australia in which the PI is deaf
  • The Mongolian Conspiracy by Rafael Bernal: classic Chandleresque Mexican noir
  • The Closer I get by Paul Burston

This is a superb piece of writing. March 2019; 400 pages

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