This story is all the more astounding when you consider that it is based on the real life events that occurred to the author. I have never been more affected or more enthralled by the content of a novel or by its alternate voice method of presentation. Vivian Tan, independent and vivacious traveller, is in Belfast invited to contribute in the celebrations of the 10th anniversary of the Good Friday agreement. As a keen walker she plans to use the opportunity to explore the nearby Colin Glen Forest Park close to the city. She meets a young, seemingly innocent boy John Sweeney who continues to follow the hiker seeking a reaction from her as he attempts to strike up a friendly conversation. The situation develops in a frightening and unexpected manner when a pleasant exchange turns to a violent assault and uncontrollable lust ending in the rape of Mz Tan.
It is the telling of this story through the voices of the victim and the perpetrator that makes for compelling reading. A victim so traumatized by a violent act that her life from here on is changed irrevocably and a perpetrator totally unconcerned by the affect of his actions on the victim..."But they have no idea how far she is now from the person they knew a week ago. They just see her, hear her voice. But the real Vivian checked out days ago, and she doesn't know when she'll return.".... As we alternate quickly between the thoughts of Vivian and Sweeney we encounter the rape, the aftermath, the trial and the fallout. It is often so easy to read about a sexual assault and to dismiss very quickly, but the voice of Winnie Li, and her articulate literary presentation taking us from a solitary walk to her life today, (as the lines between Winnie and Vivian must surely be merged) is a meaningful, sombre and sad experience to me as a male reader.
An essential important read by a lady who I can only hold the greatest respect and admiration for. The scenes in the Northern Irish courtroom and the questioning that Vivian received at the hands of a well educated defence lawyer had me totally engrossed by its realism and authenticity ( I work within the legal system) This is a novel that should be read by everyone and can only add to the understanding of a victim in a violent sexual attack, a victim with the courage to tell her story knowing that...."One of these day, she tells herself, she'll be able to walk into a field on her own. An open field under the broad sky in the middle of the day. She'll be able to lie down on her back, feel the grass beneath her, the sun on her face, close her eyes and she will feel completely content. And she will feel no danger....." Many thanks to the good people at netgalley for a gratis copy in exchange for an honest review and that is what I have written.
Black Mad Wheel is a story which defies categorization and instead focuses on delivering characters that you like and can believe in.
The Danes are a band consisting of ex-army men, (even if they were only in the army band), who are asked by the military to investigate a noise in the African desert. I know it sounds crazy, and maybe it is, but I found it be compelling dark fiction.
From Philip's point of view, (Philip being the band's keyboard player), the narrative switches between the trip to Africa and the present, in which he is hospitalized with every. single. bone. in his body broken. He wakes up not quite remembering everything that happened to him or what happened to the rest of the band. The very fact that he wakes up at all is a miracle. Or is it?
Featuring some of the creepiest scenes I've read in quite some time, the author's talent for dark fiction really shines through. I doubt that I'll ever look at a goat in the same way again and I'll probably freak out if I ever see a red piano in real life. I loved the writing and the descriptive scenes and I even loved reading about the two prior military teams that were sent to investigate this mystery sound. (Not to mention the story of the couple native to that part of the desert-it was truly disturbing.) The only difficulty I had was that the premise wasn't really believable-at least not to me. However, I suspended my disbelief, and once I did, I just went along for the ride and what a ride it was!
If you've ever felt a song in your heart, I believe you'll be able to identify with Philip and Ellen, his nurse, because it's the music they discover is a common bond between them. The ties between band members are also incredibly strong, (especially when they've been together as long as The Danes), and those connections are not easily broken. (In this respect, Black Mad Wheel reminds me of Robert McCammon's THE FIVE, easily one of the best fictional books about a band that I've ever read.) The last scene nearly broke my heart and I can't think of a more perfect ending.
Music, mystery, desert mines and mad doctors, (oh, didn't I mention that before?): with all that going on how can you resist reading this book? You know you want to! Go ahead: invest yourself in Black Mad Wheel , at the very least you'll be intrigued. At the very best, you will end up making space on your bookshelf at home-the one that houses all your favorite books. Highly recommended!
Available everywhere tomorrow, May 23, 2017 here: Black Mad Wheel: A Novel
*Thank to Ecco books and to Edeweiss for the e-ARC of this novel in exchange for my honest review. This is it. *
A woman found dead on a footpath in a Dorset coastal town is the first case for a new DCI - Sophie Allen. I love the setting (Swanage) plus the other familiar places in Dorset, so I would read other stories for that reason alone. I liked the team and the way they worked together to solve the crime but although the villain did horrible things to the victims didn't really come across as frightening or menacing which is a pity and when arrested it was an anticlimax which left me thinking "is that it?" as the character did or said very little afterwards. A promising start and I shall look forward to meeting DCI Allen again!