Ebook review: Peripheral Involvement by Bob Waldner

Publication Date: February 12, 2014

From the dust cover: “Jack Caufield never imagined that he would wake up one day and find a dead woman in his bed. That sort of thing wasn’t supposed to happen to guys like him. He was on his way to law school, but instead of fielding Socratic questions from law professors, he finds himself facing the third degree from a bunch of angry cops. Despite their efforts, they find nothing incriminating, and Jack is allowed to get on with his education and his life. Over the next fifteen years, he becomes a modestly successful corporate lawyer, a well-paid but insignificant cog in the Wall Street machine. He’s resigned to playing a disappointing role in the system that he has come to disdain, until he learns that his encounter with that unlucky girl may not have been coincidental. Confronted with the possibility that the men who run the prestigious financial institution that he now represents may have been involved in a shocking conspiracy, his search for the truth is complicated by the knowledge that discovering it could cost him the success that he’s spent his life chasing.”

About the author: “Bob Waldner was born and raised in New Jersey, before heading off to Duke University and the University of Michigan Law School. He practices law in New York, where he lives with his wife, Erinn, and his daughters Maureen and Madeleine. Someday, he hopes to figure out what he wants to be when he grows up.”

My Ebook review: the author describes in his acknowledgements that “Peripheral Involvement” took a very long time to write. Interestingly, the book itself also covers a long timeframe and in a sense felt like more than one story pushed together until the subtlety of the plot plays out and the big picture comes into delightful focus.
Caufield is a splendid character who somehow feels like he is a passenger in his own life story. Occasionally he lifts his head up and makes a clear and rational choice to give direction to his life and yet at most other times he is happy to go where the wind blows him and to take advantage of the adventures that life puts in his way. Watching his evolution, we are able to consider our own choices, what would we have chosen given the circumstances and could we have managed to get the job done when it counted.
Caufield is not only a fine character to read but a vehicle for communicating a number of salient facts about life that are often not understood or appreciated until too late, life hacks as they are sometimes described. I very much appreciated his dialogues and insightful critique of various important structures and could feel an inner turmoil seething sometimes below and once in a while above the surface. Caufield’s ultimate choices fitted consistently with his deepest character.
The greater plot is fabulous as it unfolds in various degrees of complexity and with a neat cast of characters set against a nicely described background. There is a sense of the slightly incredible but plausible about the story which drags one in and keeps the pages flying past.

Did I enjoy the reading experience?: Clearly yes, there was a gripping plot, a cast of intriguing characters, insightful almost philosophical discussions and a mystery. I just hope that the next one does not take so long!


Ebook review: The Wronged Sons by John Marrs

Another grey Monday turns up and the rain drizzles down on a sullen Copenhagen. So on with the artificial lights as I look out on the miserable cyclists still on their way to the office of their work. The sudden burst of near poetic feeling has been caused by the Ebook that I will review today. For various reasons it put me in mind of my youth when I spent nearly two years preparing for an English Literature exam and one of the three books we toiled on was Thomas Hardy’s “The Mayor of Casterbridge”, we spent endless hours poring over this booking and dissecting its mysteries. Much of the time we focused on how this novel is useful in the argument “character is fate”. Arguably this is a classic and often considered Hardy’s greatest work, but as a youth I absolutely detested it. How could a fourteen year old living in modern England have the slightest connection to the challenges of living in rustic Dorset? Perhaps others could, but I could not. What is furmity anyway, and could someone really decide to sell off their wife and daughter? Seemingly endless hours were spent fumbling at this book with the as yet unmade tools of youth and there was nothing to relate to. All that is left from those hours are the feeling of profound irritation towards being told what to read, a decent grade and the knowledge that choices lead to consequences, in this case my choice to keep nurdling away at this book led to the consequence that the grade was good, and my desire to read another Hardy novel is practically zero.

From the dust cover: “What would you do if the person you loved suddenly vanished into thin air?
Catherine’s cosy life as a housewife and mum-of-three is quickly thrown into disarray when husband Simon disappears without explanation. She is convinced he hasn’t left by choice as confusion and spiralling debts threaten to tear her family apart.
Meanwhile Simon has begun a carefree new life travelling the world. And he’s determined not to disclose his past to all he meets, even if it means resorting to extreme and violent measures.
But why did he leave?
Catherine only gets her answer 25 years later when Simon suddenly reappears on her doorstep.
During their furious final confrontation, they discover the secrets, lies and misunderstandings that tore them apart, then brought them face-to-face one last time.

My Ebook review: the setting of this story just a couple of decades ago makes it immediately possible to connect with.
The ebook starts out with Simon’s choice. From there come passages from the past and from the present played out both as narration and as conversation between the estranged husband and wife. What becomes clear quite early on is that there is a lot that is not clear at first site. Over the chapters the truth is revealed in a subtle, nicely paced, fundamentally disturbing manner.
The Wronged Sons is an emotional journey of painful recollections, impossibly bad choices. As the history is opened up to the reader it is quite possible to consider that Simon is a complete arse. This conclusion is not necessarily formed because of his choices but because of his self serving rationalisation of the choices that he has made. Somehow this man has defined to himself that any action that can be justified to himself must be appropriate. He cannot act in any other way because that is who he thinks he is. He is unable to consider the option that he could have made other choices; he has not moved away from the comfort blanket of the failings of his own parents, a comfort blanket that he uses as his own deflector shield when fault approaches.
Interestingly the book does not just rely on the failings of one character. The common theme of unnecessary secrets and half truths plagues the lives of much of the cast. Some face their demons and rise above, others are not so lucky.
Marrs has written a magnificent story, one that truly captivated from the start with its style and grace and the ever so subtle disclosure of the ultimate history. As the journey continues, the author is able to shape our opinions of the characters from an almost sympathetic curiosity towards a sense of repulsion and that, perhaps, is the greatest triumph of this work.

Ebook review: The Crack in the Ceiling by Cody Kelly

It is that time of year once again where my journey takes me through the sunrise. This morning the sky has been burning with the rays of sun against a few light clouds over misty fields. It is an inspiring view, even though it has that melancholic feeling of approaching autumn. It was a perfect backdrop to writing this Ebook review of “The Crack in the Ceiling”.

From the dust cover: “Located somewhere in the smoking collision of Alice in Wonderland and Jimmy Stewart’s “It’s a Wonderful Life,” this novel is an odyssey of passionate self- and social- examination.

Disillusioned and despairing with life, the protagonist embarks upon a bizarre journey across the wildest realms of Imagination, steadily testing conventional Logic and Rationale against the relentlessly Absurd that seems no less familiar as a foundation for living. Desperately searching for clues to the meaning of human suffering, a range of strange creatures and characters guide the hero down a path towards awareness he does not always easily, nor comfortably, understand.

Both a celebration of personal mythology and a kind of turbo-charged fairy tale, this work is also rooted as a multi-faceted parable about the outrageous dilemmas of the human condition.”
My Ebook review: firstly, this book is wonderfully written. This book centers around a classical grand journey storyline and the book description is correct in linking similarity to Charles Lutwidge Dodgson’s famous works. Nothing is as it seems.
Generally, it seems to me, authors who attempt to write a work like this tend towards the overly flowery style and essentially run out of steam after the first couple of chapters leaving the main part of the journey to become a drudge. In contrast, Kelly has the imagination and the wit to carry the plot to its end with a consistent style. Indeed one could consider that the chapters work hard to surpass each other in absurdity as the challenges our protagonist faces become increasingly difficult.
It is not without its potential failings. The protagonist passes from chapter to chapter (or scene to scene) in sometimes quirky and relatively ill defined fashion. At one point it did worry me that the journey might be an infinite series only tending towards but never actually reaching a goal. I often feel that way in grand journey storylines; it is clearly a fine balancing act.
The whole book, though, is carried, lifted and indeed thrusted up towards brilliance by the underpinning themes. As one travels the journey we are reminded of the struggle of life, the balance in all things and the fact that ‘I am the Master of my fate: I am the Captain of my soul.’ “The Crack in the Ceiling” shares something with Henley’s Invictus, as it shares something with Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress. It is an allegory at a deep level and transported me to my own Bodhi tree of contemplation.
Overall, this book does exactly what it sets out to do and perhaps a lot more.

Ebook review: LUCKY GIRL: How I Survived the Sex Industry by Violet Ivy

From the dust cover: “The intimate autobiography of an international call girl. Scary, funny and bizarre stories recorded for your amusement, edification or simply for interesting dinner conversation.

The sex industry is clouded in mystery. It has to be to some extent or it wouldn’t survive. But in this age of internet porn, buying pubic hair trimmings online and wife swapping parties it’s about time the veils of mystery were taken down.

For moralists, let’s visit the chicken and the egg scenario. Which came first the prostitute or the client? If there were no clients then obviously there would be no sex workers. But what if there weren’t any prostitutes? Would guys wank themselves silly to porn? Harass their post-menopausal wives? Frequent bars trying their luck? Or hassle the secretary and risk being charged with sexual harassment? Would statistics for rape be on the increase? Is prostitution a necessary evil in our society? Don’t mindlessly believe and quote information spoon fed to you by friends, family or the media. Make an educated decision.

Although it was never my intention to get into this industry, I’ve travelled the world, had incredible experiences and bought several properties. I won’t have to rely on the government pension when I retire.

My closest friends are co-workers, madams and clients. Brilliant people who I would never otherwise have had the good fortune to meet. I will never regret my decision to enter this field. It has not always been a bed of roses, but when I compare it to what my life might have been; cleaning job, shitty boss, marriage, perhaps divorce, mortgage, kids, living in the burbs, scraping by to give my kids a better life than I was destined for, I feel that I have been rescued… thank God.

Money doesn’t make you happy? Tell that to someone thrown out of his house because he can’t make the payments or the mother who can’t afford Christmas presents for her kids again this year. I’ve been poor. Money equals choices. Options of how to travel on this journey we call life. Did I make some mistakes? Sure! But there’s not too much I’d change. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Money gives security. Poverty causes ulcers. Financial hardship can also make you compromise yourself in ways that being a sex worker never will.

This industry eats its young and damages those not strong enough to cope. Every worker has a different personality, head space, upbringing, personal history and therefore experience. This book is a glimpse of mine. I am not advocating anyone join the profession. That is a personal choice.

When I started out I could never have imagined what my life journey would look like or where I would be now. I don’t even know where in the world I will be in twelve months. What I will be doing? Who I might be bonking, caning or smearing with hot wax? Exciting isn’t it? Carpe diem – seize the day. I’m a lucky girl.”

My Ebook review: It is no surprise that this is an adult themed book and is pretty graphic in some of its details, but what is important and interesting is the human story behind the action and the drama and of course the sex.

The human story of how someone decides to go down one path in life and how they deal with the consequences is what makes autobiography interesting and the author gives it straight and without kid gloves and her story is a gripping one.

The sex is there and is also relatively subtle in its application except where the shocking and the blunt is the main story.

The anecdotes are individually well written but at times the jump from one to another is harsh and makes continuity difficult to follow.

This is a good read for those of a more liberal point of view; it is an intensely personal journey and seeing behind the veil is intriguing, disturbing and of course revealing.

Ebook review: Remember Big: A Novel by Kelly Wittmann

Golf is a game that puts people in two camps of lovers and haters, it seems. Mark Twain apparently said “Golf is a good walk spoiled.” Many years ago back in the old country golf was a game that I played from time to time and to be honest I enjoyed it tremendously. In my youth I bought individual clubs from second hand shops and ended up with a splendid mixed bag of irons and a couple of woods which I only reluctantly upgraded to a proper set in adulthood. It is amazing that I say I enjoyed it with all the frustrations that come along with it. Another splendid quote from Churchill “Golf is a game whose aim is to hit a very small ball into an even smaller hole, with weapons singularly ill-designed for the purpose.” Somehow, the great man captures it perfectly. Those weapons impel that little ball in almost every conceivable direction than the one requested; hook, slice, top and repeat. How many hours have I spent searching for that small device in the ‘rough’. The rough is of course that almost unnavigable jungle like growth that exists for the pleasure of golfers everywhere who do not quite manage to find the whisper thin band of fairway. I got to play a round the other day for the first time in ages and really enjoyed the frustration and the exhilaration of that crazy game. So, when I saw a satirical fiction with golf as an essential back plot I had to roll with it; let us get into the swing of today’s par 5:

From the dust cover: “Thirty-three-year-old Charlie Matthias was born on the same day as Phil Mickelson, but his career in professional golf sure didn’t turn out the same way. Throw in some substance abuse and divorce issues, and he’s a wreck who’s pretty much given up on ever having a happy life.

A chance meeting with an old friend from high school, Erica Denner, lights a spark of hope in his heart, but he claims their very different family backgrounds and personalities are stumbling blocks. Only when he admits to the real stumbling blocks—his own pain and bitterness—will there be a chance for Charlie and Erica to find a lasting love together.”

My Ebook review: coming to terms with a life that is less than personally fulfilling, even though the rest of the world would chew off a leg to live such a life, the hero of this book makes an excellent study. There are many works written about how empty life can be even in the face of wealth, health and success but “Remember Big: A Novel” we examine how self destructive this emptiness can be. Charlie is a guy with everything except a proper backbone. He has been pushed about by his family for years and never really stood up for himself. He hated his career as a pro-golfer even though it gave him a tremendous living and a wife and the almost admiration of his narcissistic family, gave it up and we catch up with him on the way down. The danger in many such stories is that the character is so lacking in maturity that he (usually it is a he) is virtually impossible to empathize with and this is a tight boundary that Wittmann navigates pretty well. Charlie is not a likeable character in many ways and his destiny reflects well the character as written and his bitterness and insecurity combine with a strangely tight bond to an unhelpful family situation mean there will always be trouble one way or the other.
The backstory of the book, the career as a pro-golfer and references to that life are useful and interesting. Regardless that being a golfer sounds like it should be a magnificent life (from the outside) living out of hotels and endless playing of a game that one hates is bound to build up a stress on the system. On the other hand, having a job, any job, eventually involves a degree of dissatisfaction for the vast majority of people but we still need to do it. So Charlie is not a guy who is going to get sympathy but he does get a chance to reboot his life.
You will need to read it to find out of course but this is a well written book that moves a story along nicely with a good selection of well thought out characters and situations. For me, Wittmann executes this story well and the sense of realism was maintained throughout.

Guest blog post: Robert K. Swisher Jr.

And now for something completely different! One of the many interesting aspects of reviewing is getting to hear the diverse and inspirational stories of folk who have been there and done that. One of the negatives about trying to work in a niche is that not every opportunity to read a good looking book can be followed. So when I heard from Robert K. Swisher Jr., I decided that I wanted to share his story with you and asked him to write a guest blog post which appears below. He started out on the traditional path and has since moved into the independent world and his story says something about the similarities and the differences of these approaches. His latest work is book 1 in a series of 4 in the Bob Roosevelt Mystery Series.

Guest blog post:

I started writing in 1967 with dreams of being a poet. I bled. I dreamed. After placing several hundred poems to literary magazines and receiving a free copy I decided I would leave poetry to Ginsburg – I was bled out. I then started writing short stories. I placed many to literary magazines – again more free copies – and many outdoor articles where I received on the average a penny a word. I decided I didn’t drink enough and to leave short stories to Hemingway. Then I started writing novels. One of my earlier works was published by an underground press in Canada – another free copy – I wrote the book in the closet of a one room apartment while my wife slept. After that over a five year period I wrote eight novels ranging from historical fiction, contemporary fiction, to young adult. I sent out queries with return envelopes and waited not so patiently for replies – 50% replied – 50% didn’t – agents and publishers were fickle then as now – too busy – too swamped and all that rot. After 400 rejections a novel of mine, THE LAND, was picked up by a small publisher and was reviewed by Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and others. I was ecstatic and made enough money to buy a steak, a dress for my wife, a new typewriter, stamps, a thousand envelopes and a case of typing paper. In the old days I licked enough stamps to glue the Empire State Building together. I have had two novels optioned but could not sell the movie rights – there went the limo.
The process of writing has changed now but in all truth nothing else has. It’s still the same reasons for rejections – if you want a funny read, read ROTTON REJECTIONS. My advice to writers is write what you like, forget all the instruction manuals and how to books (if they could sell a book they wouldn’t be trying to sell you a book on how to sell a book) and keep sending your stuff out – at least now you don’t have to lick stamps.
If you grow tired of sending your stuff out go Indie. Indie is great!! You have control and in all reality about the same chance of making a few bucks as a traditional publisher – sorry boys and girls but the normal traditionally published book if it is lucky sells 5,000 copies – minus agent fees you would make more selling 1,000 Indie books. I have had 14 novels published traditionally – eight are still in print and 2 have been turned into e-books with others to come. I have recently gone Indie with a four book funny mystery series. When I first did them I made every mistake one could do but I redid them and they are as fresh and clean as babies – even received a few nice reviews with some on the way (any review helps, even bad ones) trust me I know this for a fact. During my writing life I taught a class called THE REALITIES OF WRITING and have done book signings from grocery stores to flea markets to the steps of libraries. At last count I think I have had 7,128 part time jobs. I would be glad to answer and questions – the best tip being keep at it and don’t get discouraged. I am on FB, Author Central, Goodreads, and have a page and in the process of setting up a blog if I can figure it out. Enjoy your writing journey. Call it what you will, destiny, fate, bad luck, a wrong decision in life, whatever, but something made you want to be a writer. Live with it, it’s a good life if you can take it, no one said it would be easy. On an end note I hate semi-colons, an over amount of punctuation, and in my humble opinion too many creative writing classes kill creativity unless you want to write dictionaries. The best to you and yours and all those characters that swim around in your head begging to be released and given life on a page. Smile – Robert K. Swisher Jr.

FB page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Robert-K-Swisher-Jr/296768763702474?ref=hl

Author Central: http://www.facebook.com/sharer.php?_encoding=UTF8&u=http%3A%2F%2Fauthorcentral.amazon.com%2Fgp%2Fauthor%2FB00CKWHR8Y

Ebook review: Possible: A Guide for Innovation by William Barr

Today is the first Monday when everyone is back at work here in Denmark. Even the kids have gone back to school this morning. The sun is shining on a slightly crisp day and I took the chance to walk from central station Copenhagen to my office. The train ride in had been a little fuller than last week and the bustle around the station a bit more brisk. As I walked past the lakes the full force of the city started to wake up. There was a young girl crying at her mother to try and avoid the inevitable parting after weeks of time together. There was the return to the rat race as bicycles and people piled out of buildings without a thought. I even saw one cyclist crash in an untidy lump on one of the city’s excellent bike paths as he came upon a group going somewhat slower than he. Perhaps he felt that his presence, expensive bike and tour outfit would assist the more sedate paced travellers somehow become insubstantial. Perhaps he felt that they should know to get out of his way as he sped silently up behind them. Whichever the answer, it was a clear sign that the race is back on, in full force, and we rats are happy to crawl over every obstacle, barge into every pedestrian and suffer no impediment to get to work and forget the beauty of the city in the sunshine. But I digress once again, on with the show:

From the dust cover: “Business has just two functions: marketing and innovation. The new book Possible informs you about the “spirit of innovation” and gives you an intuitive feel for it using quotes and anecdotes from business legends like Thomas Watson (IBM), Sam Walton (Walmart), and Henry Ford. It stays interesting and informative by quoting a spectrum of famous people including Niccolo Machiavelli, Abraham Lincoln, and Thomas Edison.

Possible uses a breezy fast style, unabashedly entertaining, and briefly covering every aspect of the entire subject of innovation, allowing the reader to quickly re-read about an idea or technique and then go out and try it. Everyone with the power to change things in an organization can benefit from this book, which also discusses the latest idea in innovation called “open innovation.” Plus it gives you a list of specifics: the four basic ways ideas are used, 20 ways to measure innovation, 36 features of the corporate culture, and 21 techniques to develop ideas.

Author John Steinbeck said “the group never invents anything” pointing out that the birth of a new idea starts with the individual, and therefore Possible devotes one chapter to a basic look at the phenomena of psychological creativity, including 18 features of the creative personality. Use this handbook for innovation and discover everything that’s possible.”

My Ebook review: books on innovation are, rather ironically, rarely innovative in their own approach. This does not mean that they cannot be useful and filled with insights. William Barr’s book does not necessarily break the mould but it is a commendable work on this important subject.

In a sense Barr does a good job of arguing for a process approach towards the chaotic experience of innovation. The generality is that success comes from trial and error and therefore the more trials begets the more errors and with a capacity for learning from your errors and tweaking the more likely that something with come out right. In a sense, though, Barr also argues for the time and space to allow for reflection and to allow the mind’s powers to exert themselves.

What is most important and useful is the implicit understanding that there must be room for failures even though the only real failure is giving up. This book left me feeling that innovation is something we can all be a part of and all get involved in and that I could, can, should innovate; the book is not a mould breaker perhaps, but it does what it should and it does it rather well.

Ebook Review: Welcome Abroad by Anonymous Deckhand

From the dust cover: “Yachting is the ultimate you had to have been there. Below Deck is a post card of that wild and global reality ploughing the seas, bars and beaches as we speak.

What is it really like to disappear into a place where money is only paper, perfection is the only option and you and the champagne are always on standby? Where you call and skype back to the real world and feel an opening gap between the shore and the floating hostel you now call home? But no. It’s the weekend. Charter just finished. You are free. There is serious money in your pocket and you feel yourself again yet someone else entirely, now living it up in South Beach and flying in a girl to a world class hotel. You don’t have bills, only the price of fun which you soon realize comes at another cost entirely. It’s no longer your life. It’s the rarest of bargains. It’s a trade few will ever have a chance to make: a hard week for a $700 weekend of hard partying leave, a long Charter for a $2500 cash tip, another year for a license and $6000 of entertainment dollars a month. Yet it all creeps in like a tide that slowly lifts you as you find yourself in an amusing funhouse of adventure and luxury, by the time it begins to make sense the tide is going out to sea….

Welcome Abroad is that space between your facebook profile, a proper memoir and the semester abroad that you never wanted to end and like any great story it is only a beginning…”

My Ebook review: firstly, I should say that I would very much enjoy finding out first hand what it would be like to sail the oceans on a luxury yacht. I always enjoyed sailing and the ocean and would be happy to find out if this is improved by adding a layer of luxury on top. It would probably beat eating a meat paste sandwich in the rain on a wet ‘summer’ day when the wind has dropped off completely and the next race is about to start.
The author has chosen to keep himself anonymous which gives the book an immediate feeling of an exposé, but really this seems to fit well with the confidential nature of the world of luxury yachts. At one point in the book we are told that the deckhand is not allowed to reference the owner of the yacht or to comment in any way about whosoever may be on board; clearly discretion is important in the World of luxury. Welcome Abroad is a Work of fiction.
We follow our deckhand hero as he first joins a yacht crew, as he still retains some thoughts about ‘proper jobs’ and settling down. The journey with our hero is a very interesting one as we see what happens behind the scenes to make a floating palace ready for the next call. It is not all glamour but it is not all just hard work either.
Welcome Abroad is intelligently written in a style that is unpretentious yet nicely descriptive. It brought to mind the phrase “familiarity breeds contempt” as the crew know the luxury of their lives and the shine rubs off another weekend charter to places with which they are already acquainted; ultimately this is a job and the crew are folk trying to make the best of it. The voyage from choosing to take a nomadic existence to understanding that this affects ones permanent relationships and the acceptance of the good and the less good aspects of a job that folk would happily envy but probably would not undertake is a captivating one.
It is always fun to see behind the curtain to see what really goes on back stage, but in the end it is like watching a swan gliding across the lake, the thrashing of the feet under the surface are inevitable.
Great book, well worth a read.

Ebook review: Morality for Atheists by M Adams

From the dust cover: “RELIGION AND MORALITY. For far too long, religion has been considered to be a pre-condition of morality and many still believe you could not have one without the other. But what would this mean for atheists, if this were true? What exactly is preventing atheists from going on a murderous rampage? Can atheists be moral? This short concise book aims to tackle the common misconceptions regarding morality, atheism and religion using reasoned argument and a refreshing slice of humour.”

My Ebook review: there is a real sense in which I try to avoid discussing religion or morality too much because there are just too many potential ways to hit a brick wall or just plain offend people. That said, I am very much in favor of free thought and expression and am happy for folk to go about in their own law abiding way. The author makes some good points in a punchy essay. There is humor and there is reasoned argument and the logic is readily followed.

Am I convinced by the discussion? Probably yes to the extent that lack of religion does not necessitate murderous behavior but in the end even those not brought up in religion are raised in a society of laws. The point is perhaps missed that atheism is not the same as anarchist. I never understood why I was the only one at university who thought the the “anarchist’s society” was a spectacular oxymoron; please let me know where I went wrong.

Ebook review: Bleeding Borderlines by Jan Harden

This is the first published work by this author on Amazon.com and is a crime story.
From the dust cover: “Chief Inspector James Timmermans, of the Dutch police, doesn’t appear the most driven of men but hidden beneath his mild addictions to cricket, red wine, and occasionally doing the right thing, is a bloody-minded resilience. The shameful, half-forgotten tragedy of a corrupt children’s home and the brutal murder of a mysterious Argentinean man on the streets of Roermond provoke Timmermans’ stubborn subversiveness and a long held desire to see the Southern Cross. Joining forces with the sardonic Juan Castro in the Police Federales he travels to Argentina.
Tripping over the ambiguous cultural, political and geographic borderlines of his journey he pieces the shadows that haunt the flat calm conformity of his country’s past and present. From the chaos of Buenos Aires, the magnificence of Iguazu Falls to the dark depression of Paraguay, the contrasts of South America clash with Timmermans’ complacency and he is forced to confront the legacies of the past.
The reason a man begins a journey is less important than what he discovers about himself along the way but will that self knowledge wither as Timmermans navigates the bleeding borderlines that underlie the self satisfied social consensus of his homeland?
Jan Harden takes the reader on a wry, intriguing and challenging journey through the psychological and political backwaters of history. Interweaving contemporary events with the hidden wartime history of the Netherlands and the bloodstained turmoil of 20th century South America the reader inevitably asks “If I had been there, how would I have been accounted for?””
My Ebook review: This is a tale of choices, consequences, actions, history and the challenges of modern society. An apparently ‘simple’ crime is the catalyst for a journey of discovery that crosses oceans and decades. The implications of the discovery evolve in a similarly profound manner as more of the half truths and hidden truths are exposed we can see that nothing is as simple as is seems.
There are some excellent insights into the Dutch society and the author does not shy away from using fact as backdrop to this fiction. Jan Harden also raises questions that are not easily answered about the changes brought about by the continuation of multiculturalism and the difference between tolerance and acceptance.
As a story this work is descriptive and the characters are interesting and in the main likable. It is a convoluted plot at times and at other times relatively slow and steady in its progression. Lovers of intricate crime novels will enjoy this work.