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review 2018-02-12 13:33
If you enjoy well-researched international thrillers and love team-spirit, don’t miss this one.
The Violin Man's Legacy - Seumas Gallacher

I had read Gallacher’s Self-Publishing Steps to Successful Sales (you can check my review here) a while back and had several of his books waiting to be read but had not managed yet. But when his first novel, The Violin Man’s Legacy became available in audiobook format, I knew I had no excuse.

Although I tend to use the text-to-speech facility on my e-reader, I haven’t listened to many audiobooks (mostly my own) so I was intrigued by the experience. I found the narrator, C.C. Hogan, engaging, able to hold my attention, and very good at keeping the characters separate (and there are quite a few!) and individual. He is also very good at accents and managed the international locations and names without faltering. Unfortunately, my Kindle is quite old by now and could not accommodate the Whispersync option, that would have made it easier to check some things (like names and details), as I also had a copy of the Kindle version of the book.

I’m not a huge reader of spy novels, and although this book is classified within the crime and suspense thriller category, this international action-thriller reminded me in style of many spy/international conspiracy novel, although with a more European feel, and less frantic in pace than many American spy thrillers. There is plenty of action, and even some sex (and yes, the main character is incredibly skilled, can fight like the best of them, and outwit his opponents, although the brains behind the operation is his boss), but there are also slower moments when we learn the back story, not only of the main characters, like Jack and his teammates, but also of some of the people they collaborate with, and even some of their enemies. This allows us to get to know more about the players and to understand how they got to where they are. (The story behind the title and the way it relates to Jack’s past is particularly touching).

The book is narrated in the third person, from a variety of points of view. We mostly follow Jack Calder (as it should be, as this is his series), but we also are party to the thoughts of many other characters, although there is no confusing head-hopping, and even in the narrated version, it is clear which point of view we are being privy to at any given moment. This helps create a more complex story, with layers of information and to get a better grasp of what the different players have at stake. There are those who are only interested in money, others involved in power games and politics, and others for whom reputation and loyalty are the main objects.

The story takes us from London to Amsterdam, Hong-Kong, and South America, and the author is meticulous and well-informed, providing credible settings and a detailed exposition of the procedures and operations that brings to mind the best police procedural novels. But although we follow each detail of the investigations and the operations, there are always surprises to keep us on our toes.

Jack Calder, the central character, is a breath of fresh air in a genre where heroes are almost superhuman and can fight entire wars single-handedly. Although Jack, an ex-SAS captain, is indeed great at his job, he is traumatised by a family tragedy; he is self-deprecating and knows when to give credit where credit is due. He can follow orders and acknowledges his bosses’ superior planning skills. He is also a friend of his friends, and a loyal team-player and the novel highlights how important good relationships and contacts are in the world of international security firms and businesses.

I loved the fact that the characters talk like real people talk (yes, they use clichés sometimes, make bad jokes, and sometimes are lost for words), and, although there is violence and terrible things happen (justice and law are not always on the same side of the divide), there are also very funny moments.

The writing style is fluid and the pace ebbs and flows, with moments that are fast-paced and others that allow us to catch a breath and learn more about the ins and outs of the businesses and the characters involved. Readers need to remain alert, as there are many characters, locations, and plot threads, and, it is important to pay attention to the details.

I recommend this book to those who love spy and international intrigue thrillers, especially to readers who like complex situations and stories with plenty of twists and turns, but who don’t mind stopping to take a breath every so often. A great first book in the series and many great characters I hope to meet again.

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review 2013-12-23 15:22
Revenge Jason Steed by Mark A. Cooper
Revenge - Mark A. Cooper

Revenge had a lot to live up to. Book 1 Fledgling Jason Steed is one of the greatest books written, so I was concerned when Revenge came out.


If anything the only fault I could find was it was too much action. Jason hardly had time to catch a breath, he works undercover and infiltrates the Traids and most of them are rounded up and put behind bars. 


The ring leader, a woman called Boudica escapes, she is a fantastic evil character who has a pet Leopard.


Boudica puts a price on Jason Steed's head and try to kidnap the 12 year old daughter of a Chinese Minister who freezes her assets. Both Jason and the daughter are taken to a safe house in Spain. However the details are given to the Triads by a corrupt MI6 agent.


Jason and the girl go on the run, chased by the Traids, Corrupt police and eventually when a trail of death and destruction follows them, even a corrupt top MI6 officer sends in a team to take Jason out.


Jason sees through it and takes them on, he travels to France and eventually Mount Blanc. A sweet cupid romance grows between the two children, in one very sweet and amusing scene they end up in a bubble bath together, it's very innocent and harmless. They are just 12 and do nothing more that splash soap suds. The author brings them together beautifully.


Jason Steed has to fight for his life and in one of the greatest fight scenes I have read pulls himself back from near death. 


A tear jerking ending when Jason says goodbye to Joanne (The girl he saved) and gets a letter from her. It took me two attempts to read that page because I am a soft and cry at sad movies and scenes like that. 


A great novel worthy of 5 stars. Good clean fun, action. The Alex Rider and Jason Steed novels are simply the best.

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