Book Review – Dexter and Sinister Detecting Agents by Keith W Dickenson

BLURB

John Sinister is not having a good week.

Hired to look into some shady goings on at the airship factory, his investigation has barely begun before people start dying. Soon he’s on the wrong side of some fairly unpleasant people, and that’s before he meets Dexter, the world’s only walking, talking, mechanical cat. That’s when things get complicated.

With secret societies, arrogant aristocrats, and criminal chocolatiers to contend with, John and Dexter will have to keep their wits about them if they’re going to come out of this alive. And if John happens to fall in love with his employer’s daughter along the way, well nobody said catching a killer was going to be easy now did they?

Review

This book is a little different from the books I usually review here. It is a crime story, but it’s also a steampunk / urban fantasy story. It has airships, a whirlygig, mechanical horses that blow up, and a steam-driven self-regulating automaton running an experimental analytical engine, that just happens to be in the shape of a cat.

John Sinister is the scholarship boy who’s not doing so well. Then his one real friend from school, the wealthy Henry Chard, turns up and tells him that there’s ‘trouble at mill.’ In this case, the trouble is at Chard Mechanical, just about the largest engineering firm in the Empire, and seems to be a threat to the business. The next day, Henry is dead, and John is thrust into a world of intrigues he hadn’t expected.

Henry’s father is Donald Chard, an industrialist famed across the Britannic Empire, wealthy, powerful, and a touch strange. Paid by Donald, John starts investigating Henry’s death. With the assistance of a letter of authority from Donald Chard, and the reluctant assistance of the police, notably Detective Hardigan. Only to have the rug pulled from under his feet by Donald’s death. Then Dexter asks him to investigate, claiming John should finish the job he’s already been paid for. And so, together, that’s what they do.

Between the covers of this book, the reader finds the strange inventions of Nomko; the memory and repercussions of John beating the Chess Club (seven games in one); Strange goings on at Caesar’s Coffee and Chocolate club; Agnes Goodenough—who is way more than good enough; and the various other characters who are all well drawn for their purpose on the page.

It’s a romp. It’s an investigation. It’s life and death, loyalty and betrayal. But mostly, it’s the story of a man who doesn’t quite fit getting used to a talking mechanical cat.

Dexter, the cat, has almost all the best lines. Not to mention typical cat superiority and sarcasm.

I loved this book and would highly recommend if you’re looking for something a bit different. There is a second in the series, and I will be reading it sometime.

Book Review – The Rabbit Factor by Antti Tuomainen

The Blurb

Just one spreadsheet away from chaos…

What makes life perfect? Insurance mathematician Henri Koskinen knows the answer because he calculates everything down to the very last decimal.

And then, for the first time, Henri is faced with the incalculable. After suddenly losing his job, Henri inherits an adventure park from his brother – its peculiar employees and troubling financial problems included. The worst of the financial issues appear to originate from big loans taken from criminal quarters … and some dangerous men are very keen to get their money back.

But what Henri really can’t compute is love. In the adventure park, Henri crosses paths with Laura, an artist with a chequered past, and a joie de vivre and erratic lifestyle that bewilders him. As the criminals go to extreme lengths to collect their debts and as Henri’s relationship with Laura deepens, he finds himself faced with situations and emotions that simply cannot be pinned down on his spreadsheets…

Warmly funny, rich with quirky characters and absurd situations, The Rabbit Factor is a triumph of a dark thriller, its tension matched only by its ability to make us rejoice in the beauty and random nature of life.

My Review

I picked this book up because I was in CrimeFest and I’d attended one panel with Antti Tuomainen. As soon as he mentioned beating someone to death with a giant rabbit ear, I thought “that book’s for me!” And I was right.

I loved this book from start to finish – Finnish even. No? Oh, okay then.

The very first scene is the beating a man to death with a rabbit ear, but you have no idea why. And then the why unfolds. Or maybe it unravels, because that is certainly the way Henri’s life feels, an unravelling.

I have a great deal of respect for Henri. He’s an actuary, he calculates everything. I love maths, and many years ago was accepted onto an actuarial degree course, then life happened, and I couldn’t go. But Henri did and he is very good at it. Also, Henri can’t stand touchy-feely emotionally connective management speak. Totally with you there Henri.

And he had a haughty cat, what cat owner doesn’t? This one is Schopenhauer. I love Schopenhauer. I just kind of wanted Schopenhauer to have had a more active role, but there again, cat, it’ll do what it wants.

Anyway, Henri loses his job, a job he loved – other than the management twaddle – and then he loses his brother. Who leaves him an adventure park. Note that it is an adventure park, not an amusement park, Henri is most particular about that. Then things really change for Henri.

As a fish out of water story, this one is a doozy. As the tale of an innocent caught up in a criminal world, it’s a cracker. It even works as a character sketch of a cat and a pessimist (the philosopher, not the cat, though, who knows…). There’s even a bit of a love story for the softer of heart, but not so much the harder of heart will sneer and put it aside. In other words the funny, the criminal, the ouch and the ahhs are all in perfect balance.

There were a couple of phrases that jumped out when I was reading as lost in translation, but that might be just me not getting it.

This book is just wonderful, and it should be read. Highly recommend.

On My Shelves – The Sacred Art of Stealing by Christopher Brookmyre

Blurb

A robbery in Scotland might not seem like an unusual background for a crime novel-until it’s put into the hands of one of the U.K.’s leading satirists, Christopher Brookmyre. Now available for the first time in the U.S., The Sacred Art of Stealing is narrative catnip for fans of crime fiction laced with dark humour.

This is how the story goes: Their eyes met across a crowded room. She was just a poor servant girl and he was the son of a rich industrialist … Well, the eyes meeting across a crowded room part is true. Where it differs from the fairy tales is that the room in question was crowded with hostages and armed bank-robbers, and Zal Innez’s eyes were the only part of him that Angelique de Xavia could see behind his mask. Angelique had enough to be fed up about before the embarrassment of being a cop taken hostage by the most bizarrely unorthodox crooks ever to set foot in Glasgow. Disillusioned, disaffected and chronically single, she’s starting to take stock of the sacrifices she’s made for a job that’s given her back nothing but grief. So when her erstwhile captor has the chutzpah to phone her at work and ask her out on a date, Angelique finds herself in no great hurry to turn him in. She knows now that the cops will never love her back, but maybe one of the robbers will.

The above is the current blurb from Amazon. However, here’s the blurb from the back of the book from my shelves, the blurb that had me buying the book.

Let us prey…

The press tend to talk about back robberies as being daring, ingenious and audacious. They don’t describe many as Dadaist, even the ones who know what ‘Dadaist’ means. But how else does one explain choreographed dancing gunmen in Buchanan Street, or the surreal methods they use to stay one step ahead of the cops?

Angelique de Xavia is no art critic, but she is a connoisseur of crooks, and she’s sure that the heist she got caught up in wasn’t the work of the usual awn-off-and-black-tights practitioners. She knows she’s dealing with a unique species of thief, and it’s her job to hunt him to extinction – though the fact that is not just his MO that’s cute might prove a distraction.

My Thoughts

This was the first Christopher Brookmyre I ever read, and I loved it!

The robbery is daring, ingenious and audacious. I might even agree it was Dadaist if I understood what Dadaist was. What I do know is that it’s very funny, incredibly well written and not at all what I was expecting.

That robbery is the book’s inciting incident and from there it honestly just gets better. It definitely goes places that as a reader I started wondering ‘how on earth is all this going to tie together?’ But it does. And quite beautifully too.

This was one of the first crime novels I ever read that actually made me laugh for all the right reasons – I’d laughed at a few because they were that bad, but this book is meant to be mirthful and it is.

I highly recommend this book and many of his others. After this instalment, I went back and read Brookmyre’s earlier work, and became quite a devotee, turning to buying the hardbacks because I couldn’t wait for the books to come out, I read it all. Right up to Pandeamonium. Which I hated. I couldn’t even finish it, and I haven’t read anything he’s written since. If you like Pandeamonium and beyond, then fair enough, but I’ve not been able to get back into his work since.

However, I really would highly recommend The Sacred Art of Stealing and indeed all Brookmyre’s earlier works.

On My Shelves – High Citadel by Desmond Bagley

On My Shelves is a new thread I’m adding to this blog, where I’m going to work my way through my older books and share some love for the stories that have been out there for a while.

Blurb

When Tim O’Hara’s plane is hijacked and forced to crash land in the middle of the Andes, his troubles are only beginning. A heavily armed group of communist soldiers intent on killing one of his passengers – an influential political figure – have orders to leave no survivors. Isolated in the biting cold of the Andes, O’Hara’s party must fight for their lives with only the most primitive weapons…

Review

I first read this when I was 17 or 18, I borrowed it from a library, Kent Library Service. Not my local library, which was in the same area, but one from the next town over.  I enjoyed it so much I borrowed it several times, causing my sister to ask it all the books from that library were covered in the same way. In other words, I loved this book.

The copy I now own is old (a full paperback priced at £1.25) it’s falling apart, the last page has totally detached from the rest of the book – I still have it though. Just checked, this edition (which has the cover showed above) was printed in 1981.

It is still however, a very readable and enjoyable book.  What’s really nice about it, though the technology has moved on massively since the book was first written, the situation that the characters are put in wouldn’t be any different today.  Well not unless one of them had a Breitling Emergency watch (look it up, it’s got PLB).

The situation really shows the personalities of each of the characters in very different ways, and though it is a far from ideal situation, they are all under a huge amount of stress, they have to work together as a team if any of them are to get off the mountain alive.

Now I admit that I may well be bias by my early impressions of this book, but this was a great read, so well worth giving a shot if you’re into old style action and adventure.

Book Review – The Snowdonia Killings by Simon McCleave

Blurb

Starting a new life in Snowdonia was always DI Ruth Hunter’s dream. Until a twisted killer turned it into her worst nightmare. 

Detective Inspector Ruth Hunter lives with the pain of her partner’s mysterious and unsolved disappearance. About to hit fifty, the veteran police officer trades in the crime-ridden streets of London for a more peaceful life in rural North Wales. But Ruth has barely settled into her new position in North Wales Police, when the body of a brutally murdered woman is discovered…with strange symbols carved into her skin. Teaming up with an obstinate deputy, Ruth struggles to eliminate anyone from a long line of suspects. When another slain victim is discovered with the same cryptic markings, she’s forced to re-think the investigation.

Has Ruth got what it takes to solve the case before the murderer attacks again?

The Snowdonia Killings is the first book in the DI Ruth Hunter Crime Thriller series and set against the majestic backdrop of Snowdonia, a timeless land of Arthurian legend, folklore and myth. If you like dark police procedurals, psychologically complex characters, and shocking twists, then you’ll love Simon McCleave’s pulse-pounding debut novel.

My Review

Okay, hands up, who hasn’t wanted to kill a teacher/headmaster?

There’s a fair amount of setup to read before the first murder, but it’s totally worth it. By the time we reach the first killing, the reader already thinks the victim deserves it and there are plenty of natural suspects. The second killing is less obvious, but again, not without good reason. 

Ruth acts as the readers way into this book. From her life in the Met and Peckham, her personal backstory (I won’t spoiler it for you), and her decision to move to the quiet life of North Wales, she gives a good insight into what it’s like to be the incomer (as I was when I first came to Wales, and I believe as Simon McCleave was when he wrote the novel). It’s awkward and difficult to find your space, but Ruth does this well forming a great partnership with DS Nick Evans who wants her there in opposite proportion to how much he wants his next drink.

Nick’s drinking is an interesting choice here. Though it is a bit of cliché to have a heavy drinking police officer, Nick is attending AA. He doesn’t seem to be working it through most of the book, but he’s attending. While he is a functioning alcoholic, these things never go as unnoticed as the drinker thinks it does. So, while Ruth sees all the great potential in Nick, she also sees the problem.  But can she open his eyes to it?

Annoyingly for me, I figured out who the killer was quite early in the book, and I kept hoping I was wrong. I wasn’t, but that didn’t spoil it because when the killer is finally revealed and we see all the blind alleys and misdirections, the killer’s motivation is solid and understandable. There’s a real sense of feeling that while murder isn’t justifiable, the reader understands what drove the murderer to it. It makes sense, and that’s always important in crime fiction.

This book is a great introduction to the characters and their lives, and the fledgeling professional relationships that they are building. The text also gives a good sense of place too. By the last page, the reader is comfortable with the two main leads and really likes them, while at the same time wondering how things are going to carry on.

This was a really satisfying read, and I would highly recommend it.

Bio

Simon is a million selling crime novelist. His first book, ‘The Snowdonia Killings’, was released in January 2020 and soon became an Amazon Bestseller, reaching No 1 in the Amazon UK Chart and selling over 300,000 copies. His subsequent novels in the DI Ruth Hunter Crime Thriller Series (11 so far) have all ranked in the Amazon Top 20 and are Amazon Best Sellers. He has sold over a 1.25 million books since 2020. The Chirk Castle Killings, Book 12, will release on June 28th 2020.

The Dark Tide, new Anglesey series for Harper Collins, has just been released at reached UK top ten in Kindle Chart.

Simon is currently in negotiations to make the Ruth Hunter books into a television series.

Simon McCleave was born in South London. When leaving University, he worked in television and film development. He was a Script Editor at the BBC, a producer at Channel 4 before working as a Story Analyst in Los Angeles. He worked on films such as ‘The Full Monty’ and television series such as the BBC Crime Drama ‘Between The Lines’.

Simon then became a script writer for television and film. He wrote on series such as Silent Witness, Murder In Suburbia, Teachers, Attachments, The Bill, Eastenders and many more. His film, ‘Out of the Game’ for Channel 4 was critically acclaimed – ‘An unflinching portrayal of male friendship.’ (Time Out)

Simon lives in North Wales with his wife and two children.

Simon is also incredibly tall as I found out in CrimeFest this year – but then I am a bit of short-stop at 5’5”. (Simon is 6’ 4”)

Book Review – On The Rock by Andy McNab

I’m making a point with my reading this year to try things that are outside my usual reading comfort zone. Like most people, I’ve heard of Andy McNab but was never that sure about reading his work.

Blurb

This is the call he is always ready for. They’ve had word of a planned attack. That’s why he’s back here, opposite some suit who’s trying to tell him what he needs to do. But he knows exactly what’s required.

Four men. Plain clothes. Eyes peeled.

Three targets. Two cases. One car.

Gibraltar isn’t an ideal location. Too many people. Too many blind alleys. But then again, he’s not the terrorist. Who knows what goes through their minds? Well, he will soon. If everything goes to plan.

Review

This is one from the Quick Reads books, so only about 70 pages of large print, and I read it in one sitting because that’s what these books are meant for.

The story is told in the first person and is led by ‘K’, called in for a job that could be fatal and is most definitely deniable. On Gibraltar, K and a small team are looking to foil a terrorist bombing, and identify a radicalizing influence to stop future attacks.

Okay, so I wasn’t expecting much from the book, which is kind of just as well, because I didn’t get much from it. The writing is competent, and the story echoed a number of police incidents on Gibraltar that I remember, so there was a clear element and sense of realism. I’d say McNab did his research well if it weren’t more a case of he lived his life well.

The reason I brought the Quick Read was to see if I wanted to read a full-length novel of McNab’s, and I can’t say that this has convinced me they are something I’d enjoy. I might try reading one at some point, but I certainly won’t rush to do so. That said, I can see why other would love McNab’s writing, it’s just not my cup of tea.

Book Review – The Venetian Game by Philip Gwynne Jones

I’ve been getting around to reading some of the work from fellow Crime Cymru members. Started with this one as I usually read UK based books, and this was a little further away.

Blurb

A game of cross and double-cross in Venice, one of the most beautiful cities on earth.

From his office on the Street of the Assassins, Nathan Sutherland enjoys a steady but unexciting life translating Italian DIY manuals. All this changes dramatically when he is offered a large sum of money to look after a small package containing an extremely valuable antique prayer book illustrated by a Venetian master. But is it a stolen masterpiece – or a brilliant fake?

Unknown to Nathan, from a vast mansion on the Grand Canal twin brothers Domenico and Arcangelo Moro, motivated by nothing more than mutual hatred, have been playing out a complex game of art theft for twenty years. And now Nathan finds himself unwittingly drawn into their deadly business …



My Review

Nathan Sutherland is an Englishman aboard. In Venice – unsurprisingly, given the title. Nathan is a man alone, sitting in his Venetian flat not translating lawn mower instructions, not cooking, drinking too much, and getting bored with his position of honorary consul and helping tourists find lost directions, lost passport and their way into the hands of the Venice Police where there is in fact, very little he can do for them. The thing he does really well is feed the cat, but then with Gramsci, he would have to.

What is surprising is how Nathan gets sucked into a world of art crime. Luckily, he knows someone. Turns out, he knows several someones actually. But in this case, Federica, the art restorer, seems to be one of the most useful. Not to mention, probably the prettiest.

There is a game afoot, and one that has rather escalated from the version that turns up in most childhoods. 

The story is intelligent and interesting, and it shows of its landscape well, the physical one of Venice, and the psychological one of Italian culture as seen through the eyes of an Englishman.

This is the first on the Nathan Sutherland books, and a good start it is too. Would recommend.

There are references to some great music in the first part of the book too.

The fact that Gramsci reminds me of Greebo, the cat who runs Nanny Og and everyone else ragged in Terry Pratchett’s books, actually helped make the whole thing more amusing.

About the Author

Philip Gwynne Jones was born in South Wales in 1966, and has since lived in Holland, Germany and Scotland. He first came to Italy in 1994, when he spent some time working for the European Space Agency in Frascati, a job that proved to be less exciting than he had imagined.

He spent twenty years in the IT industry before realising he was congenitally unsuited to it, and now works as a teacher, writer and translator. He lives in Venice with his wife Caroline.

He is the author of the Nathan Sutherland series, set in contemporary Venice, and his books have been translated into Italian, German and Bulgarian. The fifth book in the series, “The Venetian Legacy” will follow in April 2021. His travelogue, “To Venice With Love” is now available.

He enjoys cooking, art, classical music and opera; and can occasionally be seen and heard singing bass with the Cantori Veneziani.

Philip is published by Constable, and be contacted at https://philipgwynnejones.com/

Blog Tour – Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Chef by Philip Brady

After the Meal of Fortune Blog Tour, I was more than happy to be involved with the new tour for this second offering from Philip Brady.

The Blurb

BOND MEETS BAKE-OFF IN A FAST-MOVING COMEDY CAPER

Someone’s going around killing celebrities and London’s police don’t have a clue. With outrange mounting on social media, disgraced copper DI Mark Henwell, is thrown a chance to save his career or bury it trying.

Things are finally on the up for MI5 officer, Anna Preston. But when an informant is murdered before he can pass on vital information on a terrorist plot, she has no way to find out more about the threatened attack. And no way of stopping it.

But could there possibly be a link between the murders and the terrorist plot? And what does Dermot Jack, Anna’s old flame and manager of a string of TV chefs and other lowbrow celebrities, have to do with it all?

As the police and MI5 investigations collide, Anna, Dermot and Henwell are thrown together and a tense love triangle emerges. But with a murderer on the loose and the terrorists about to strike, they really don’t have time for any of that.

Do they?

My Review

Loved it! It was a good read, and a page turner. It’s a bit of a caper and one needs to suspend disbelief for certain parts of the storyline, but that’s not really a problem when the read is this much fun.

Anna and Dermot are always a joy to read, though Dermot really isn’t helping himself or his cause with Anna in this one. Oddly I may have fallen a little bit in love with DI Henwell, he’s brilliantly drawn on the page, a classic copper, dealing with the idiocy that can come along with bureaucracy. However frustrated he gets, he still gets to the answer despite ‘help’ from above. I hope he also appears in future releases of this series. I want to see more of this man, and I have a feeling Anna does too.

As this is part of a series, the question I find myself asking is would I have enjoyed it so much if I hadn’t read the previous book. Answer is, pretty much. There are a couple of references to actions in the first book, but if you hadn’t read it, they wouldn’t detract greatly.

Amazon says that this book is “a laugh out loud comedy thriller” – it’s not. At least it wasn’t for me, but I have been told I have no sense of humour. That’s not true, I do have a sense of humour, but this book still didn’t make me laugh out loud. That said, it was very amusing and it did make me smile, so it is comedy that I appreciate, but I want to give my readers a clear view of what I experienced. There is a reference to a certain Time Lord or three that I particularly enjoyed.

If you are someone who likes a few giggles with their thrills, I would heartily recommend this book.

The Author


Phil lives in west London with his wife two children and some animals, which also like to call the house home.

He is somewhat obsessed and bemused with the public and media’s fixation with celebrities of every stripe. This forms the backdrop of his books, which also tend to feature spies, gangsters, hit men and TV chefs.

His first novel, The Meal of Fortune, was published in 2017, with a second edition following in 2021.  The follow up. Tinker Tailor Soldier Chef will be published in 2022.

Phil’s main rule in life is never to let tomato ketchup touch any food that is green.  This may not have any deep meaning, nor may it be the soundest of principles to live by – but it’s better than many he’s come across down the years.  Best not to go there though.

You can buy the ebook (only format) on Amazon.

Thanks to Philip for sharing this, Heather for inviting me in, and Overview Media for ranging the blog tour.

Book Review – The Smell of Copper by Mark Fowler

Saw a request from Mark for readers, and agreed, it’s always good to see work from someone I haven’t read before. So here’s my review.

BLURB

When DCI Jim Tyler believes he has uncovered evidence of deep-rooted corruption in the police department, his thirst for justice and loathing of authority combine in a deadly cocktail that threatens to destroy him.

A police officer is found dead in a Staffordshire park. It looks like suicide. DCI Tyler and DS Mills want to speak to the dead officer’s partner, a bent copper recently thrown off the force. Then the partner is found dead in almost the same location. It appears to be another suicide.

Tyler believes there’s a bigger story and digs deeper, upsetting half of the local police force into the bargain, until he is finally ordered to close the case. Mills fears his colleague’s reluctance to pull out reveals a personal agenda, and a rift develops between the detectives.

But Tyler remains determined to dig down to the bottom, in spite of the pressure on him from the top … and regardless of the consequences.

My Review

Tyler is definitely a determined police officer, and when he gets a case that seems like suicide, he believes there’s more to it and goes after the truth. The acts within the book are sensible and Tyler certainly doesn’t get everything all his own way, nor should he. Tyler isn’t a typical maverick, but he is more emotional, well desk thumpingly angry, than most. So, it’s nice to see that he had to face the fallout.

Mills also comes across as a fully rounded character, with a realistic family and interests outside of the home, which… well I’m not giving things away.

The investigation played out over a reasonable amount of time, though the behaviour of some of the higher-ranking officers left a little to be desired. It was difficult at times to see who was manipulating who, but it was good to see an officer with flaws. The final resolution worked out, but the body count actually left me feeling like that was too convenient, but it was still readable.

This is book four of the Tyler and Mills series, so I have to ask if I’ve missed anything by not having read the previous books, and the answer is, no I don’t think I have.  There are light references to previous cases and Tyler’s history but there was enough in the book for the references to work without making the reader feel that they were missing out.

Worth a read.

Mark L. Fowler is best known as a writer of detective crime fiction and psychological thrillers.

Mark is the author of the popular Tyler and Mills detective crime series. The first book, RED IS THE COLOUR, set in 2002, was shortlisted for the 2018 Arnold Bennett Prize and is set in his home county of Staffordshire. The story begins with the grim discovery of a schoolboy who disappeared thirty years earlier. BLUE MURDER involves a missing singer and a murdered guitarist, and THE DEVIL WORE BLACK unveils the mystery of a crucified priest. The latest book in the series, THE SMELL OF COPPER, finds the detectives uncovering police corruption. All four books can be read as standalone crime novels.

His other detective mysteries include TWIST, the first in a new series featuring a private investigator returning to the city of nightmares to look into the case of a dead philosophy student. THE MAN UPSTAIRS introduces hard boiled Frank Miller, who discovers he’s a fictional detective and that his author is plotting to kill him.

Mark also writes psychological thrillers, including SILVER. Journalist and writer Nick Slater becomes obsessed with an unpublished manuscript that a best-selling author was working on when she was murdered. SEXTET delivers more psychological chills, with the twisted rivalry between twin sisters, the weird games they played as children, and the rising murder rate in a small English town.

He is also the author of COFFIN MAKER, a gothic fantasy novel. Death is sent two strange apprentices amid warnings from a priest that the devil has arrived on Earth.

Audible Review – Animal Instinct Human Zoo by Simon Booker

I listened to this book because that’s the only to get it, it’s only available on Audible. I have to say that I found it really enjoyable.

Joe Cassedy isn’t a policeman anymore, but that doesn’t stop him investigating when an old friend in trouble comes to him. What starts out looking like a fairly straightforward murder mystery soon descends into something unexpectedly darker. Making reference to animal behaviour, it reminds the reader that we’re all just beasts in the end and what is done to the victim family is certainly beastly.

There’s an interesting side story about Joe and his marriage that keeps the reader interested too.

Kent is my home county, so I recognised many of the places named, which made it feel like visiting an old friend. Though the territory of the themes in the book was a whole new world to me, there was clearly a lot of research that went into writing this story, and the author did the most wonderful job of only using what was necessary to get the message across.

There’s a great cast and high production values to this presentation. Who wouldn’t enjoy listening to Brendan Coyle, he’s got a lovely voice, my only issue was that every time Joseph Marcell spoke – he did a good job of this in fairness – but every time I inevitably got an image of Geoffrey the Butler from “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air”, this is doubtless a function of my age more than the production.

Would I recommend it? Yes, definitely.