The Monsoon Ghost Image #BookReview #BlogTour (@tomvater) @crimewavepress @rararesources #RachelsRandomResources #crimewavepress #MonsoonGhostImage

the monsoon ghost image

Delighted to be on the tour today for The Monsoon Ghost Image by Tom Vater. Huge thanks to Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me on to the tour and to the author and publisher for my copy of the book which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

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Dirty Pictures, Secret Wars And Human Beasts – Detective Maier Is Back To Investigate The Politics Of Murder

The third Detective Maier mystery is a taut and crazy spy thriller for our disturbing times.

When award-winning German conflict photographer Martin Ritter disappears in a boating accident in Thailand, the nation mourns the loss of a cultural icon. But a few weeks later, Detective Maier’s agency in Hamburg gets a call from Ritter’s wife. Her husband has been seen alive on the streets of Bangkok. Maier decides to travel to Thailand to find Ritter. But all he finds is trouble and a photograph.

As soon as Maier puts his hands on the Monsoon Ghost Image, the detective turns from hunter to hunted – the CIA, international business interests, a doctor with a penchant for mutilation and a woman who calls herself the Wicked Witch of the East all want to get their fingers on Martin Ritter’s most important piece of work – visual proof of a post 9/11 CIA rendition and the torture of a suspected Muslim terrorist on Thai soil. From the concrete canyons of the Thai capital to the savage jungles and hedonist party islands of southern Thailand, Maier and his sidekick Mikhail race against formidable foes to discover some of our darkest truths and to save their lives into the bargain.

This is the third book in a series featuring private detective Maier. I haven’t read books one and two but this did not hinder my enjoyment of this book which can easily be read as a standalone. However, reading books one and two first would fill in some back story and give a deeper understanding of some of the characters in the book, so if you intend to read them all it would probably be a good idea to read them in order.

This is an interesting combination of detective story and spy thriller which is constructed in a way that is very different to the mainstream. The book is extremely fast-paced, sometimes moving so quickly that events pass by in a blur and it is quite hard to keep up with what is going on; the writing a dizzying kaleidoscope of happenings that have the reader and the characters spinning to get there head around it, which is a good reflection of the situation in which the characters find themselves. On the downside, I did find the narrative jumped around quite a bit and there seemed to be linking events missing which made it confusing to follow in places and I found it quite disjointed. This may be that it is just a very different way of writing that I am unused to, but it was definitely disconcerting the way people appeared and disappear rapidly with minimal connecting narrative.

There is a rapid and varied set of locations to match the events happening. From Berlin to Bangkok to Kho Pha Ngan, the case takes Maier and his cohorts across Asia to track down the significance of The Monsoon Ghost Image and why so many people are prepared to kill to keep it from seeing the light of day. There is a high level of very graphics violence in the plot and some extremely sick and unpleasant people involved and the writer doesn’t pull any punches so readers of a sensitive disposition may not enjoy this aspect of the novel but it certainly makes for excitement and high levels of tension for those who do. Bring a healthy dose of credulity to the book, there are parts that need it. At times it reminded me of some of the wilder aspects of a James Bond plot, but there is never a dull moment. Whether or not you are convinced by every aspect will be for you to judge.

The great plus for me of the book is the vividness of Vater’s writing. The scenes are brilliantly and viscerally brought to life through his prose and descriptions and the book has more of a literary leaning than I was expecting, given the plot, as Maier ruminates on the state of the world and the nature of man and the struggle against terrorism. Sometimes the forms of writing and speech are very formal. It was a really unique and interesting mix of elements that make it stand out in a sea of thrillers. Vater’s writing is definitely worth a peek if you are looking for some thing out of the mundane.

The Monsoon Ghost Image is out now and you can buy a copy here.

To follow the rest of the tour, check out the poster below:

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About the Author

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Tom Vater has published four crime novels and is the co-owner of Crime Wave Press, a Hong Kong based crime fiction imprint. He writes for many publications including The Wall Street Journal, The Daily Telegraph, CNN and The Nikkei Asian Review. He is a best-selling non-fiction writer and co-author of the highly acclaimed Sacred Skin (www.sacredskinthailand.com).

Connect with Tom:

Website: http://www.tomvater.com

Facebook: Tom Vater

Twitter: @tomvater

Staying On by C.M. Taylor #BookReview #BlogTour (@CMTaylorStory) @Duckbooks @annecater #Giveaway #StayingOn

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A geriatric coming-of-age story …

Retired expat, Tony Metcalfe, is going through a three-quarter-life crisis. Viva España, his bar in a mountain village beyond Spain s Costa Blanca, is failing. Tony started the bar for the English post-war babies who retired early on good pensions – the por favors, as the Spanish call them – flocking to the dream of wine, rest and sun around the pool. But now their retirement paradise is shadowed by Brexit: the pound has fallen, pensions are frozen and the property crash happened long ago.

Tony wants to move back to enjoy the remainder of his life in his childhood home, but his tenacious wife Laney wants to stay in the happy valley and forget about England and the dark, unresolved feelings it provokes in their marriage. Sod it – he couldn t go home even if he tried; nobody would buy an ailing bar during a recession.

But Tony s luck is about to change when his son Nick arrives for a surprise visit with his self-possessed wife, Jo, and their son. With the extra help, Tony thinks things are on the up, but Jo has brought along more baggage than just their family s suitcases.

Staying On is a compelling story of little and greater family secrets come to light and what it means to find home, wherever you are.

I am happy to be taking part in the blog tour today for Staying On by C. M. Taylor. I originally reviewed this book at the end of July and enjoyed it very much so my thanks go to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting me to share it with you again as part of the tour. If you would like to win a copy of the book, please just leave a brief comment on the post and I will pick a winner at random to receive the book.

When I was offered the chance to read this book, I wasn’t sure what to expect. The blurb and some of the other information I was given gave me the impression that it might be more political commentary on the influence of Brexit on the ex-pat community in Spain than anything else, but this was not the case. This book is a beautiful, deeply moving portrayal of a family whose current problems are largely caused by issues in their past that they are afraid to confront and what happens when they are forced to address them by outside influences.

I really loved the book, it affected me very deeply. The issues explored of family relationships and tensions and how people can be pushed apart by a failure to communicate, are ones that we can all relate to to a greater or lesser degree and we can all feel great empathy for these characters. They are all so well written and truthful that it is impossible not to be drawn in to their story and be compelled to find out what becomes of them over the arc of the book.

The main characters are Tony and Laney Metcalfe, living the ex-pat dream in a small hillside village inland from the coast of Costa Blanca, running a small, struggling bar and moving in a circle of other ex-pats in an enclave which has been developed for the incoming immigrants. They have not really integrated into the local Spanish community and, as the effects of the 2008 financial crash and the looming threat of Brexit cause a trickle of their community to sell up and return to Britain, they find their world is shifting and becoming unsettled. The arrival of their son, Nick and his wife Jo, who seems intent on stirring things up, lead to seismic shifts in the status quo that force Tony and Laney to face issues in their marriage that have been buried for years leading to startling revelations and events.

Tony and Laney are recognisable as ordinary working class Brits who have, in their thousands, sold up and retired for their dream life in the Spanish sun, only to find it is not so dreamy after all. But of course, like all of us, they are not ordinary at all, but have extraordinary relationships and dynamics that are unique to each of us and drive us to behave the way we do, in a way that is invisible to the outside world, creating pressures and tensions and motivations that are mysterious to outsiders. The author does an amazing job of revealing these individual foibles in a way that is completely believable and compelling.

The setting was beautifully created and peopled with a fascinating cast of characters, there is some fantastic use of language and imagery that I savoured throughout, but it is the gently drawn and played out family drama which is at the heart of this story and which will draw you through the book to the very last page. It is soft and melancholy and totally true and I just fell in love with this book and the every day, unimportant but totally enthralling drama between its pages. This is a book about my life and your life and the life of everyone who is both unimportant but vital in the world, people who don’t do startling things or things that have newsworthy impact on anyone else, but who are central to the worlds of those around them and I wish there were more books like this in the world.

Staying On is out now and you can buy a copy here.

To see what other bloggers make of the book, make sure you follow the rest of the tour:

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About the Author

C M Taylor

C M Taylor lives in Oxford, lectures at the Oxford International Centre for Publishing Studies and is a freelance editor of fiction. He is the author of Premiership Psycho and Group of Death, two-thirds of a satirical trilogy described as ‘Brilliant’ by The Sun, and ‘Horribly entertaining’ by The Mirror.

Connect with the author:

Twitter: @CMTaylorStory

Instagram: @cmtaylor

Goodreads: C. M. Taylor

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Divided We Stand (Division Bell Book 3) by Rachel McLean #BlogBlitz #BookReview (@rachelmcwrites) @RaRaResources #DivisionBell

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I am so excited today to be taking part in the blog blitz for the final part of the Division Bell Trilogy by Rachel McLean, Divided We Stand. I have absolutely loved the first two parts of the series, A House Divided and Divide and Rule and you might like to read my reviews of these to see why I have been so effusive about the series so far. My thanks to Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources for allowing me to finish off the journey by taking part in this blog tour and to the author for my copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

Divided We Stand Ebook

Britain is a country under surveillance. Neighbours spy on neighbours. Schools enforce loyalty to the state. And children are encouraged to inform on their parents.

Disgraced MP Jennifer Sinclair has earned her freedom but returns home to find everything changed.

Rita Gurumurthy has been sent to a high security prison. When a sympathetic guard helps her escape she becomes a fugitive, forced to go into hiding.

To reunite her family and win freedom for her son and her friend, Jennifer must challenge her old colleague and rival, the new Prime Minister Catherine Moore.

Will Catherine listen to reason and remove the country from its yoke of fear and suspicion? Or will Jennifer have to reveal the secret only she knows about Catherine, and risk plunging the country into turmoil?

Jennifer has finally managed to get herself released from the British Values Centre and back to what is left of her family in the final part of this dystopian, political thriller but Britain is still in the grip of fear and suspicion and her son, Samir, threatened with deportation. It will take all her political manoeuvring to free him before it is too late. This is a trilogy that really needs to be read in order to understand it and get the most of it, but that is no hardship as it is so gripping, and this final instalment is no exception.

The story follows the three main women from Book Two, Jennifer, Meena and Rita, who have all managed to escape from the British Values Centre, but are still not safe in a country where everyone is under watch, the State has oppressive powers of arrest and neighbour informs on neighbour. They need to put behind them their past differences and work together against a political system which seems to have a stranglehold on the country, to secure a better future for them all.

After the incarceration drama of the last book, in this third instalment we are back to a tale of political machinations (sorry, I can’t let that phrase pass without a nod to Blackadder III: Dish and Dishonesty “One who has recently done sterling service, matching the political machinations of the evil Pitt. Good old Lord Baldrick!” Anyway, back to the review.) as Jennifer, now disgraced and without any parliamentary authority, has to take on her old friend, Catherine, who is now the Prime Minister and the person responsible to the current political climate of oppression. It is a battle of wits and power and had me gripped from start to finish. I don’t know whether this book was shorter than the others or it just felt that way as I raced through it but it was an exciting denouement.

Throughout, this trilogy has had an ominous ring of possibility about it, which has made it so thrilling and chilling at the same time. A dystopian vision that is not beyond the bounds of possibility and, on some bleak days, seems to be creeping slowly closer to becoming a reality. In these times of political upheaval and division in this country, these books are a sobering glimpse into what could be if we aren’t careful. I have not read any political fiction that I have found as gripping or well written since I read Michael Dobb’s House of Cards trilogy twenty years ago. I’ve enjoyed every minute of these books and can’t recommend them highly enough.

Divided We Stand is out now and you can buy a copy here.

About the Author

A House Divided - rachel mclean

I’m Rachel McLean and I write thrillers and speculative fiction.

I’m told that the world wants upbeat, cheerful stories – well, I’m sorry but I can’t help. My stories have an uncanny habit of predicting future events (and not the good ones). They’re inspired by my work at the Environment Agency and the Labour Party and explore issues like climate change, Islamophobia, the refugee crisis and sexism in high places. All with a focus on how these impact individual people and families.

You can find out more about my writing, get access to deals and exclusive stories or become part of my advance reader team by joining my book club at rachelmclean.com/bookclub.

Connect with Rachel:

Website: https://rachelmclean.com

Facebook: Rachel McLean

Twitter: @rachelmcwrites

Instagram: @rachelmcwrites

Goodreads: Rachel McLean

 

Divide and Rule (Division Bell Book 2) by Rachel McLean #BlogBlitz #BookReview (@rachelmcwrites) @RaRaResources #DivisionBell

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Delighted to be taking part today in the blog blitz today for Divide and Rule by Rachel McLean, which is book two in the Division Bell trilogy. You may recall that I reviewed book one in the trilogy, A House Divided last month and you can find that review here. My thanks to Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to take part in the blitz today and to the author for my advance copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly.

Divide and Rule e-book

“Jennifer Sinclair’s fight to save her political career, her family and her freedom has failed. Traumatised by prison violence, she agrees to transfer to the mysterious British Values Centre.

Rita Gurumurthy has betrayed her country and failed the children in her care. Unlike Jennifer, she has no choice, but finds herself in the centre against her will.

Both women are expected to conform, to prove their loyalty to the state and to betray everything they hold dear. One attempts to comply, while the other rebels. Will either succeed in regaining her freedom?

Divide and Rule is 1984 for the 21st century – a chilling thriller examining the ruthless measures the state will take to ensure obedience, and the impact on two women.”

Do you realise how many rights and freedoms you have as a citizen of Great Britain today, or do you just take them for granted? Do you ever consider what life must be like in countries that don’t grant the same protection of personal rights that we do? How powerless would you feel if, all of a sudden, those rights and freedoms were taken away from you? If these thoughts have never occurred to you, and you happily pootle along from day to day, grumbling slightly about the few restrictions we do live under in order to make life bearable for society as a whole (as most of us do), I suggest you read this book for a healthy wake up call, because things could be a lot, lot worse.

This book picks up from where A House Divided left off so, although I’m sure this book could be read as a standalone, you will have a much richer and more rewarding reading experience if you have read book one first. Besides, the first book is fantastic, so you should definitely read it. Jennifer Sinclair, former MP and Prisons Minister has found herself incarcerated in one of the prisons she was formerly responsible for, after hiding her son, who was suspected of terrorist affiliations, and you can imagine how popular she is in there. So, when she is given the chance to move to a new rehabilitation centre, with the chance of following a six step programme that will lead to her freedom, she decides to take the chance.

Unfortunately, the centre does not turn out to be what she was promised and, along with other women accused of similar ‘crimes’, she is subjected to a system of brainwashing designed to stop the women questioning a system which is becoming increasingly dictatorial, and the women find that all the rights they believed they had as a result of living in a democratic country have been severely eroded. How do you fight a system that doesn’t grant you any rights or protections? The book explores the different approaches taken by Jennifer, still thinking like a politician, and Rita, defiant in her beliefs and unwilling to conform, as they try to play the programme and earn their escape.

I read this book in a single sitting, late into the night, my body rigid with tension throughout. I was totally hooked on the story from beginning to end; I simply could not look away from the page. I was gripped with mounting horror as it became apparent that this scenario is frighteningly plausible and, as I pondered the questions posed in paragraph one of this post, realised that we take far too much for granted in this country, that we actually have little personal power and rely far too much on legal freedoms which could easily be taken away. In fact, in recent history there have been situations where internment without trial have been used (the Troubles in Northern Ireland being the most recent example) and were being mooted again as solutions to terrorism by certain factions more recently. When one considers this, this book becomes even more eye-opening. ‘There by the grace of God” is a phrase that springs to mind.

I have been concerned by the direction that politics is currently taking in this country, and by certain things that have happened over the past few years, certain headlines in the newspapers and rhetoric on social media. Reading this book has done nothing to quell my fears. If you are looking for a horror story for Halloween, forget Stephen King or M.R. James, this is it. A small part of me is banking on Rachel leaving us with a hopeful ending in book three, Divided We Stand, which I will be reviewing on 20 November, but I fear this may be wishful thinking.

Divide and Rule is out now, and you can buy a copy here.

About the Author

A House Divided - rachel mclean

I’m Rachel McLean and I write thrillers and speculative fiction.

I’m told that the world wants upbeat, cheerful stories – well, I’m sorry but I can’t help. My stories have an uncanny habit of predicting future events (and not the good ones). They’re inspired by my work at the Environment Agency and the Labour Party and explore issues like climate change, Islamophobia, the refugee crisis and sexism in high places. All with a focus on how these impact individual people and families.

You can find out more about my writing, get access to deals and exclusive stories or become part of my advance reader team by joining my book club at rachelmclean.com/bookclub.

Connect with Rachel:

Website: https://rachelmclean.com

Facebook: Rachel McLean

Twitter: @rachelmcwrites

Instagram: @rachelmcwrites

Goodreads: Rachel McLean

A House Divided (Division Bell Book 1) by Rachel McLean #BlogTour #BookReview #PublicationDay (@rachelmcwrites) @RaRaResources @jed_mercurio #AHouseDivided #DivisionBell

A House Divided

Delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for A House Divided by Rachel McLean on its Publication Day, so happy publication day, Rachel. This is the first book in a trilogy, and I will be reviewing all three parts over the coming months, so watch out for parts two and three on 23 October and 20 November. My thanks to Rachel Gilbey of Rachel’s Random Resources for my place on the tour and the author and publisher for my copy of the book which I have reviewed honestly.

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“Jennifer Sinclair is many things: loyal government minister, loving wife and devoted mother.

But when a terror attack threatens her family, her world is turned upside down. When the government she has served targets her Muslim husband and sons, her loyalties are tested. And when her family is about to be torn apart, she must take drastic action to protect them.

A House Divided is a tense and timely thriller about political extremism and divided loyalties, and their impact on one woman.”

If, like me, you have been glued to BBC One’s ‘Bodyguard’ over the past six weeks (and who hasn’t, it was fabulous, Jed Mercurio is a genius), no doubt you will be feeling as bereft as I am now it has finished. Well, I have the solution for you and it is to read A House Divided. Everything you loved about Bodyguard (except Richard Madden, sadly)  and more.

The book is set in the very near future, as Britain is affected by a twin terror attack on Birmingham and London. At the centre of the storm is Jennifer Sinclair, a junior Home Office minister and MP for a  Birmingham constituency – who also happens to be married to a British-born Muslim, with two Muslim sons. Jennifer is drawn into the political storm over how to tackle terrorism and finds her loyalties divided between her professional and personal lives.

I would call this book a dystopian thriller, except it is all too scarily plausible to believe that this is not a very real depiction of a possible future, and a not too distant one at that. In fact, it was more akin to a horror story for me. I got the same feeling reading this as  do reading Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, a feeling that this book could be terrifyingly prescient.

The characters in the book are very believable, in particular Jennifer who is someone I could relate to very easily, as a woman torn between motherhood and professional ambition. I was totally aligned with her as I went through the book and, as a result, I felt the tension through her internal battles, parental struggles and political manoeuvring and backstabbing. And backstabbing aplenty there is. Anyone who loved Michael Dobb’s House of Cards trilogy as I did will be captivated by this book and the potential as to where the next two books will take the reader.

This book is every bit as gripping as the finale of Bodyguard, especially the last quarter, and my heart was racing and I was unable to put the book down. On the edge of your seat reading with a disturbing level of believability that has left me unsettled, but also desperate to read Book 2. And one burning question – why the hell would anyone want to be a politician?

A House Divided is published today and you can get your copy by following this link.

To check out a variety of opinions on this book, make sure to visit the blogs of the other wonderful bloggers on the tour:

A House Divided Full Tour Banner

About the Author

A House Divided - rachel mclean

I’m Rachel McLean and I write thrillers and speculative fiction.

I’m told that the world wants upbeat, cheerful stories – well, I’m sorry but I can’t help. My stories have an uncanny habit of predicting future events (and not the good ones). They’re inspired by my work at the Environment Agency and the Labour Party and explore issues like climate change, Islamophobia, the refugee crisis and sexism in high places. All with a focus on how these impact individual people and families.

You can find out more about my writing, get access to deals and exclusive stories or become part of my advance reader team by joining my book club at rachelmclean.com/bookclub.

Connect with Rachel:

Website: https://rachelmclean.com

Facebook: Rachel McLean

Twitter: @rachelmcwrites

Instagram: @rachelmcwrites

Goodreads: Rachel McLean

The Glass Diplomat by S. R. Wilsher #BookReview #BlogTour (@srwilsher) @RaRaResources #RaRaResources #TheGlassDiplomat

The Glass Diplomat

I have been looking forward to taking part in this blog tour ever since I first heard about this book, so I am delighted to be taking my turn today on the blog tour for The Glass Diplomat by S. R. Wilsher. Huge thanks to Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources for the invitation to the tour and to the author for my copy of the book which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

The Glass Diplomat - E book Cover Final

“In 1973 Chile, as General Augusto Pinochet seizes power, thirteen-year-old English schoolboy Charlie Norton watches his father walk into the night and never return. Taken in by diplomat, Tomas Abrego, his life becomes intricately linked to the family. 

Despite his love for the Abrego sisters, he’s unable to prevent Maria falling under the spell of a left-wing revolutionary, or Sophia from marrying the right-wing Minister of Justice.

His connection to the family is complicated by the growing impression that Tomas Abrego was somehow involved in his father’s disappearance.

As the conflict of a family divided by politics comes to a head on the night of the 1989 student riots, Charlie has to act to save the sisters from an enemy they cannot see.”

This book is an extraordinarily powerful novel about power, life, love, loss and revenge set against the backdrop of atrocities perpetrated by the Pinochet regime in Chile from 1973 onwards.

It opens with a heart-stopping scene set in 1989, which sets the tone for the whole book and makes the reader realise that there are going to be some events in the novel that are hard to stomach, then flips back to 1973 and the disappearance of Charlie’s father which is the catalyst for everything that happens afterwards. We are introduced to the powerful Tomas Abrego and his family who are Charlie’s link to Chile – one he will revisit repeatedly through the years and to whom he is inextricably connected in a myriad of complex ways.

There are so many interesting and thought-provoking themes running through the book. Naivete is a big one. The naivete of Charlie and the Abrego sisters as they meet in their youth and become friends, unaware of the tensions between their parents. The naivete of Charlie in his early days as a journalist reporting on events in Chile, believing that as a journalist and a Westerner, he is somehow separate from and protected against the atrocities being committed by the regime he is exposing; and how the characters have their illusions exposed – sometimes brutally – over time.

The book explores the complex nature of relationships and how we can be torn apart by conflicting emotions. How bonds formed early in life can remain strong and have a stranglehold on us, even in the face of compelling opposing forces and against our better judgement and how it can be very hard to battle against them, even while we strive to prove we are dispassionate or they run contrary to other emotions in us. However, hard we try to step outside ourselves and remain impartial, we are all human in the end.

The background of the political upheaval in Chile and the atrocities that occurred at that time are fascinating and appalling. It is a period of history I knew a little, but not much, about before I started reading but it is beautifully interwoven into the book in a way that made me want to explore more about the period. Having a deeper picture of what went on made me angry and so extremely sad. You can’t help be moved by this book, particularly as the characters are so beautifully drawn and the novel so well-plotted that you become quickly invested in what is going on, which makes it all the more painful and shocking.

To begin with, I found some of the prose a little dense and convoluted for my tastes; I had to concentrate very hard at times to follow the course of the over-long sentences that slowed the pace at the beginning. I eventually got past this and settled in to the authors’ style of writing and this would be my only minor criticism

This book is a stunning piece of political fiction and I would highly recommend it to anyone curious about this period of South American political upheaval.

The Glass Diplomat is out now and you can buy a copy here.

To get a different perspective on the book from my fabulous fellow bloggers on the tour, you can find the details of the other stops below:

The Glass Diplomat Full Tour Banner

About the Author

The Glass Diplomat - Author Pic

It didn’t occur to me to write until I was twenty-two, prompted by reading a disappointing book by an author I’d previously liked. I wrote thirty pages of a story I abandoned because it didn’t work on any level. I moved on to a thriller about lost treasure in Central America; which I finished, but never showed to anyone. Two more went the way of the first, and I forgave the author.

After that I became more interested in people-centric stories. I also decided I needed to get some help with my writing, and studied for a degree with the OU. I chose Psychology partly because it was an easier sell to my family than Creative Writing. But mainly because it suited the changing tastes of my writing. When I look back, so many of my choices have been about my writing. 

I’ve been writing all my adult life, but nine years ago I had a kidney transplant which interrupted my career, to everyone’s relief. It did mean my output increased, and I developed a work plan that sees me with two projects on the go at any one time. Although that has taken a hit in recent months as I’m currently renovating a house and getting to know my very new granddaughter.

I write for no other reason than I enjoy it deeply. I like the challenge of making a story work. I get a thrill from tinkering with the structure, of creating characters that I care about, and of manipulating a plot that unravels unpredictably, yet logically. I like to write myself into a corner and then see how I can escape. To me, writing is a puzzle I like to spend my time trying to solve. 

Connect with the author:

Website: http://www.srwilsher.com/about/4574659347

Twitter: @srwilsher

Goodreads: S. R. Wilsher

The Benevolent Dictator by Tom Trott #BookReview #BlogTour (@tjtrott) @RaRaResources #TheBenevolentDictator

The Benevolent Dictator

After a week of crime and suspense I am happy to be featuring something a little different on the blog today as I take part in the blog tour for The Benevolent Dictator by Tom Trott. My thanks to Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources for the invitation to the tour and the author for my copy of the book which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.

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“Ben longs to be prime minister one day. But with no political connections, he is about to crash out of a Masters degree with no future ahead. So when by chance he becomes fast friends with a young Arab prince, and is offered a job in his government, he jumps at the chance to get on the political ladder.

Amal dreads the throne. And with Ben’s help he wants to reform his country, steering it onto a path towards democracy. But with the king’s health failing, revolutionaries in the streets, and terrorism threatening everyone, the country is ready to tear itself apart.

Alone in a hostile land, Ben must help Amal weigh what is best against what is right, making decisions that will risk his country, his family, and his life.”

Where to start with my review of this wonderful book, there is so much going on, so much to talk about, so much food for thought packed in to a relatively short but complex novella.

This is the story of two idealistic young men, well-educated, well-intentioned and full of ambition to make the world a better place. One is Ben, a British graduate whose aim is to become Prime Minister. The other is Amal, the second son of a Middle Eastern ruler who longs to bring Western values to his homeland. They meet by chance at university and, on finding common ground, become friends. Then, suddenly, Amal’s life is turned upside down when his older brother is killed in a car accident and he suddenly become heir to his ailing father’s throne. Looking for an ally, he asks Ben to move to his country to act as his advisor.

This is the story of a fish out of water. A young idealistic man transplanted to an alien environment that he does not understand. He cannot speak the language, does not share the religion, has no knowledge of its history or politics and finds their customs and laws barbaric. He is viewing it all through the eye of a Westerner with the arrogance to assume that the civilisation he is used to is the correct one and should be brought to these people, whether they want or are ready for it or not.

This is the story about destiny. About a young man destined to be the second son. The one educated in the West and destined to be a minor player in the government of his country, free to hold certain ideals safe in the knowledge that he will not be in a position to implement them who, by a seeming twist of fate, is suddenly thrust in to a position where he is forced to make a choice between what he thought he believed and the actuality of implementing those ideals and steering the country from the path carved out by his ancestors. We will discover whether he has the strength to see those ideals through, or whether reality differs from theory.

This is a story about disillusionment. About the disappointment when one realises that the principles we hold dear don’t hold up in every scenario. When our belief in ourselves is ripped aside and our inadequacies laid bare when we are put to the test. When we realised what we thought was true is not and that we are powerless to change what we thought we could so easily influence.

These two young men, so certain in their beliefs in the safety and warmth of the academic environment, find that out in the real world, things are never so simple. They are faced with thousands of years of history, societal, cultural and familial pressures, economic realities and the political manoeuvering that they have not enough experience to deal with. They are out of their depth. It is a fascinating study of the intricacies of political decision-making that few of us actually consider when arguing the toss about what goes on in governments of foreign countries.

Above all, this is the story of hubris. The hubris of the young, thinking they know it all and can succeed where everyone else has failed. The hubris of the West in thinking that their way is the only acceptable way and that by imposing their ideals on other nations, they are always making life better for the people of those countries. Recent history has shown us this is not necessarily true. The hubris of the rulers of hereditary monarchies assuming that they have the right to rule for this reason alone and that nothing is going to change the status quo.

This book sounds like it might be heavy going, but it really is not. The author brilliantly wraps up all of the above themes in a story that is entertaining and compelling and very easy to read. The two main characters are both likeable and easy to relate to. The setting is vividly drawn and you are taken right to the heart of this alien society, in the same way that Ben is. There is gripping element of intrigue that carries the reader through to the end, which I found shocking and upsetting. The book left me saddened and disturbed and with a huge amount to think about.

I loved the use of phrases from Ozymandias by Shelley (one of my favourite poems of all time) as chapter headings, underlining the theme of hubris and the ultimate fallibility of all dynasties in the end. If you haven’t read this poem, take a look before you read the book. It is a moving and powerful piece of writing, as is this novel.

Ultimately, The Benevolent Dictator is one of those books that you will be delighted to have discovered. It is a pleasure to read and offers so much to the reader in return for the time invested. Probably one of my favourite reads of the year.

The Benevolent Dictator is out now and you can purchase a copy here.

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About the Author:

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Tom Trott was born in Brighton. He first started writing at Junior School, where he and a group of friends devised and performed comedy plays for school assemblies, much to the amusement of their fellow pupils. Since leaving school and growing up to be a big boy, he has written a short comedy play that was performed at the Theatre Royal Brighton in May 2014 as part of the Brighton Festival; he has written Daye’s Work, a television pilot for the local Brighton channel, and he has won the Empire Award (thriller category) in the 2015 New York Screenplay Contest. He is the proverbial Brighton rock, and currently lives in the city with his wife.

Connect with Tom:

Website: https://tomtrott.com

Facebook: Tom Trott Books

Twitter: @tjtrott

Goodreads: Tom Trott