Sunday, 28 May 2017

Week in Words: 21st-28th May 2017

Like a lot of bloggers this has been a quiet week for me. The horrific terrorist attack in Manchester that left 22 innocent people dead and many others injured meant that posting about books didn't feel right to me at the start of the week. There have been many words written since the attack, some in love, some with hate, many much wiser than anything I will say here. I'm not going to pretend I have any ideas about how global terrorism should be tackled, I only know how I choose to live in what often feels a frightening world. I choose to give my children as free a childhood as possible; I want them to have freedom from fear, freedom to go and explore the world, freedom from hatred. I try to teach them love, compassion and encourage curiosity and tell them not to look on other people as potential enemies but as potential friends. My heartfelt condolences to everyone who has been affected by terrorist atrocities, whether under the guise of religion, politics or nationalism, strip the cloak away and evil is as evil does. Throughout the world we are all forced to mourn our dead, taken by extremism. Having grown up in the 1970s and '80s, the years of countless terrorist attacks by the IRA, I am grateful I was raised to believe we are stronger united. I believe we owe it to our children to not allow terrorists the victory of fear and division now.

So to return to books and the power of the written word; they are our gateways into other lives, into understanding and empathising with those who seem to be very different but who have the same hopes, fears, loves, losses and secrets - whether in the past, present or future, in this world or another. This is what I've been reading and watching this past week.

Books
I finished all three books I was reading last week. You can read my reviews for Western Fringes and Nightblind but will have to wait until 11th June to hear what I thought about Wolves in the Dark as I will be hosting the blog tour that day.


I've now started two more books. both were sent to me by the authors. The first title is The Former Chief Executive by Kate Vane, I really enjoyed her previous book, Not the End and am already finding this one an engrossing read. The second book, We've Come to Take You Home is by Susan Gandar and partly set during World War One, one of my favourite periods for historical fiction so I'm really looking forward to delving deeper into this one.

Television
I've watched very little television this week, other than Doctor Who obviously! I really enjoyed this episode again, I always like the stories that are spread over a few episodes and thought The Pyramid at the End of the World had a good mix of intrigue, tension and humour. I watched it with my 9 year old daughter who adores Pearl Mackie's character, Bill. She summed up the episode as "Scary but cool, the Monks are a bit boring though. I like different monsters each week, except for the Daleks because they're the best." We're both in agreement that we're going to really miss Peter Capaldi's Doctor and that Bill and Nardole are fantastic companions.

Is..is..this blue string pudding...? What would the Clangers say? (image from ign.com)


Next Week
Talking of blog tours I'm looking forward to being the host for the Block 46 tour on Wednesday 31st May. I've already tweeted about how much I loved the book so it's not really a spoiler to say expect a glowing review! I'm actually going to be on holiday next week and may not have much access to wifi, my post is scheduled to publish and I hope HootSuite will do the rest but I'll be very grateful for any shares in my absence.

If I finish the two books I'm currently reading I will be starting Blood Moon by John David Bethel, another book I received from the author. I currently have quite a few books that have been sent to me but am still accepting requests to review as long as you are prepared to wait a few weeks for me to get round to reading it. My review policy can be found here.

Ramadan Mubarak to my Muslim visitors and friends. I send you my best wishes for peace and health during the holy month and beyond.


Happy reading everyone!

Saturday, 27 May 2017

Book Review - Nightblind by Ragnar Jonasson



Siglufjörður: an idyllically quiet fishing village on the northernmost tip of Iceland, accessible only via a small mountain tunnel.
Ari Thór Arason: a local policeman, whose tumultuous past and uneasy relationships with the villagers continue to haunt him.
The peace of this close-knit community is shattered by the murder of a policeman – shot at point-blank range in the dead of night in a deserted house. With a killer on the loose and the dark arctic winter closing in, it falls to Ari Thór to piece together a puzzle that involves tangled local politics, a compromised new mayor, and a psychiatric ward in Reykjavik, where someone is being held against their will. Then a mysterious young woman moves to the area, on the run from something she dare not reveal, and it becomes all too clear that tragic events from the past are weaving a sinister spell that may threaten them all. Dark, chilling and complex, Nightblind is an extraordinary thriller from an undeniable new talent.

I recently reviewed Snowblind, the first book in Ragnar Jonasson's Dark Iceland series, and after reading the extract from Nightblind at the end of that book, I couldn't resist diving straight in!
About five years have passed since Ari Thor's first case in the small fishing village of Siglufjörður and in this time his old mentor, Tómas has moved away but Ari Thor has missed out on promotion, it is now Herjólfur who is the inspector of the small police station. It is also Herjólfur who answers a call-out to an abandoned property with a dark history, and it is Herjólfur who is shot and left for dead, while Ari Thor is in bed, struck down by influenza.
The shooting shatters the apparent peace of the village and Ari Thor must contend with local politics, long kept secrets and his own guilt as he tries to discover the truth behind the murder of his inspector; a family man whose father was a distinguished police officer himself, the attack shocks not just Siglufjörður but the whole of Iceland.
Ari Thor is sharply aware that he should have been on duty that night, was Herjólfur shot in a random attack on a police officer, or was Ari Thor himself the real target? He realises he knows little about his inspector and is forced to admit to himself that his bitter disappointment at missing out on promotion meant he hadn't made the effort to learn more about the man. Meanwhile his relationship with his girlfriend, and mother of his baby son, is strained and Ari Thor must deal with not only the secrets and lies of the town but also those within his own life. The return of Tómas, drafted in to help investigate the case, at least provides him with a familiar face to work with, but the pair still struggle to uncover a motive for the attack. With the eyes of the country on them, do the local mayor as his deputy know more than they're letting on?
As they slowly expose the dark secrets kept behind closed doors, there is a creeping menace about Nightblind. We are reminded that even the seemingly most peaceful places hide brutal truths. The excerpts from a journal, interspersed between chapters in the book add another layer to the mystery. We soon learn this journal belongs to a patient on a psychiatric ward - but who are they and how are they connected to the case Ari Thor is investigating? How too, is the scene of the murder connected? Why has this unsettling, malevolent property now become the site of two sudden deaths?
 Nightblind is a tale as chilling as the snow and ice of  Siglufjörður, the suspense builds gradually as Ari Thor uncovers the horrific truth. He remains the complex and conflicted character from Snowblind, although now less affected by the claustrophobia that dogged him in the first book, he still feels like a newcomer and forced to investigate suspicious and reticent locals means he struggles to know who he can trust. Although published as the second book of the Dark Iceland series in the UK, Nightblind also works as a standalone novel. Ragnar Jonasson has crafted a superb, contemporary tale, the social issues in the book are a strong and important theme making it a compelling addition to the Icelandic Noir canon. As with the first book, I thoroughly recommend it to anybody who enjoys tense, atmospheric thrillers. I'm very much looking forward to catching up with Ari Thor again in Blackout and Rupture.

Snowblind is published in the UK by Orenda Books. You can follow Ragnar Jonasson on Twitter as @ragnarjo and Orenda as @OrendaBooks

About the Author

Ragnar Jónasson is author of the international bestselling Dark Iceland series. His debut Snowblind went to number one in the kindle charts shortly after publication, and Nightblind, Blackout and Rupture soon followed suit, hitting the number one spot in five countries, and the series being sold in 15 countries and for TV. Ragnar was born in Reykjavik, Iceland, where he continues to work as a lawyer. He also teaches copyright law at Reykjavik University and has previously worked on radio and television, including as a TV-news reporter for the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service. Ragnar is a member of the UK Crime Writers’ Association (CWA) and set up its first overseas chapter in Reykjavik. He is also the co-founder of the international crime-writing festival Iceland Noir. From the age of 17, Ragnar translated 14 Agatha Christie novels into Icelandic. He has appeared on festival panels worldwide, and lives in Reykjavik with his wife and young daughters.

Monday, 22 May 2017

Book Review - Western Fringes by Amer Anwar




A SIKH GIRL ON THE RUN. A MUSLIM EX-CON WHO HAS TO FIND HER. A WHOLE HEAP OF TROUBLE.
Southall, West London.
Recently released from prison, Zaq Khan is lucky to land a dead-end job at a builders' yard. All he wants to do is keep his head down and put his past behind him.
But when he has to search for his boss's runaway daughter it quickly becomes apparent he's not simply dealing with family arguments and arranged marriages as he finds himself caught up in a deadly web of deception, murder and revenge.
With time running out and pressure mounting, can he find the missing girl before it's too late? And if he does, can he keep her - and himself - alive long enough to deal with the people who want them both dead?

If you like gritty action, sharp dialogue and pacy plotting, then you'll love this award winning action thriller from Amer Anwar.

I was delighted when Amer Anwar contacted me to ask if I'd like to read his debut book, Western Fringes. I always enjoy discovering new authors and with Western Fringes having won the prestigious CWA Debut Dagger Award, I suspected I was in for an enjoyable read.
I wasn't wrong, Western Fringes gripped me from its opening few pages and despite being a fairly long read never lost pace or focus. The book opens with Zaq Khan called in see the owner of the builder's yard where he works. Recently released from prison following a five year sentence and as the only Muslim in a company owned and run by Sikhs, he fears the worst and assumes he may be out of a job. The worst turns out to be far more troubling than sudden unemployment; Mr Brar informs him he has to find his runaway daughter, Rita, and if Zaq even thinks of refusing he will find himself back in prison, framed for strealing from the family firm. It appears that Rita has fled an arranged marriage and her father and two brothers, Parminder and Rajinder are determined that she should be found swiftly to avoid their family being shamed in the community. it quickly becomes apparent however, that this is far more than a family argument and before long Zaq's life is in real danger.
Throughout the book Zaq is an engaging and likeable protagonist, he wrestles with his conscience when he realises to protect himself he may have to return Rita to a dangerous situation and though we, the readers may hope desperately that he makes the right decision, we fully understand and sympathise with the moral quandary he finds himself in. His relationship with his best friend, Jags is one of the highlights of the book, the affection between the two characterised by their mutual name-calling and teasing but their bond means Jags is prepared to support his mate, whether that's with cups of tea and painkillers or as his partner in a risky stakeout. Zaq finds himself in numerous fights and though his years in prison mean he has learned to take care of himself, he receives some punishing blows and we realise that despite the lighter moments with Jags, he isn't playing a game, he has become involved in a shady underworld that could result in deadly consequences. The violence is brutal and one scene in particular is difficult to read, I would caution anybody who is of a more sensitive disposition as the treatment meted out to one character is truly shocking.  However, it's equally important to note that it never feels gratuitous, Zaq's enemies are dangerous killers and there should be no ambiguity as to what they're capable of and what both Zaq and Rita are at risk from.
The setting for the book, Southall plays an important part in the story, both the streets themselves and the tensions and camaraderie between the Asian community who lived there. There is real honesty about Western Fringes, the depiction of diverse cultures and the divisions between them give a real sense of  the challenges of living in an urban Asian community. I loved the sprinkling of Punjabi words throughout the book, the frequent (and mouthwatering!) descriptions of food, the music blaring from car stereos, all combining to bring to life the atmosphere of the area. Western Fringes is one of the most descriptive books I've read in a while, we learn even the tiniest minutiae sometimes of Zaq's day, even down to the order he eats his KFC meal in, yet this never detracts from the tight pacing of the plot. Instead it gives the book an almost televisual quality as we feel we are there with Zaq, observing his every move, his every decision, as he uses his fast talking and quick thinking skills to figure out how he is going to extricate himself from the nightmare situation he finds himself in. The book eventually builds to a tense and gripping finale, the twists and often visceral violence meant I truly didn't know how the action would pan out and was completely immersed in this exciting and cleverly plotted urban noir.
Western Fringes is an exciting and fresh thriller, I absolutely loved it and look forward to reading more from Amer Anwar. If you're looking for a book that is action-packed, witty and believable, then look no further.
Many thanks to the author for my copy, received in return for my honest review.

Western Fringes is available on Amazon.


About the Author

 Amer Anwar grew up in West London. After leaving college he had a variety of jobs, including warehouse assistant, comic book lettering artist, driver for emergency doctors and chalet rep in the French Alps. He eventually settled into a career as a designer/creative artworker producing artwork mainly for the home entertainment industry. He has an MA in Creative Writing from Birkbeck, University of London and is a winner of the Crime Writers' Association Debut Dagger Award. WESTERN FRINGES is his first novel

You can follow Amer Anwar on Twitter as @ameranwar and find his website here

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Week in Words: 14th - 21st May 2017

Welcome to my very first Week in Words, my new regular feature where I look back at what I've been reading and watching over the past seven days.

Books


Last Sunday I finished Snowblind by Ragnar Jonasson, having only started it the day before. It's a book I've been meaning to read for some time, I'm glad I finally got to it because I loved it. You can read my review here











I currently have three books on the go. I'll most likely finish Western Fringes by Amer Anwar later today so look out for my review early next week. I don't think it's too much of a spoiler to say it's going to be a very complimentary review!







After finishing Snowblind, I immediately started the second book in the Dark Iceland series, Nightblind. It's only my busy week and the fact I'm switching between three books that has stopped me racing through this one too as I'm enjoying it just as much. Congratulations to Ragnar Jonasson, shortlisted for the CrimeFest eDunnit Award in Bristol this weekend.







On Wednesday I travelled up to London for the Orenda Roadshow at Waterstones Piccadilly. You can read my post about it here. I started reading Gunnar Staalesen's latest book, Wolves in the Dark on the train and have been kicking myself ever since that I haven't read any of his Varg Veum stories before now, with almost 40 years of the series to catch up on I certainly have lots to look forward to! Huge congratulations to Gunnar, winner of the Petrona Award at CrimeFest for Where Roses Never Die.




Television


It's dark and he's wearing sunglasses (image from denofgeek.com)
I haven't watched much television this week. It's definitely been all about the written word this week! I never miss Doctor Who though, and thought Extremis was another excellent episode in what has so far been a superb season. It appears to have divided opinion somewhat with some people finding it too muddled and unnecessarily complicated. However, I found it tense and  thought-provoking and can't wait to see if things are resolved in the second part of this adventure next week.

Sing a yo ho (image from popsugar.com)
Talking of two-parters, I've yet to catch up with the finale of Once Upon a Time but I have rewatched the cheesily fantastic musical episode,The Song in Your Heart. I loved every single moment but if pushed I'd say enjoyed Josh Dallas giving it everything was what I loved most. Always a pleasure to see Hook in his pirate leather and guyliner too.

Some pig! (image from imdb.com)

This morning I watched Charlotte's Web again with my 9 year old daughter. It's a film I've seen several times before but I think it's a lovely adaptation of one of the finest children's books of all time.

Next Week
Once I've finished the books I'm currently reading, I'll be starting We've Come To Take You Home by Susan Gandar, and The Former Chief Executive by Kate Vane. I have several more books lined up (of course!), including the three I bought at the Orenda Roadshow, The Mountain in my Shoe by Louise Beech, A Suitable Lie by Michael J. Malone, and Exquisite by Sarah Stovell.

Hope you all enjoy your visits to different places next week. I thought this picture I spotted on Twitter was perfect!

(h/t @thelaceylondon on Twitter)
I'd love to hear what you've been enjoying. Happy reading everyone!

Friday, 19 May 2017

Book Review - Snowblind by Ragnar Jonasson

Siglufjörður: an idyllically quiet fishing village in Northern Iceland, where no one locks their doors – accessible only via a small mountain tunnel. Ari Thór Arason: a rookie policeman on his first posting, far from his girlfriend in Reykjavik – with a past that he’s unable to leave behind. When a young woman is found lying half-naked in the snow, bleeding and unconscious, and a highly esteemed, elderly writer falls to his death in the local theatre, Ari is dragged straight into the heart of a community where he can trust no one, and secrets and lies are a way of life. An avalanche and unremitting snowstorms close the mountain pass, and the 24-hour darkness threatens to push Ari over the edge, as curtains begin to twitch, and his investigation becomes increasingly complex, chilling and personal. Past plays tag with the present and the claustrophobic tension mounts, while Ari is thrust ever deeper into his own darkness – blinded by snow, and with a killer on the loose. Taut and terrifying, Snowblind is a startling debut from an extraordinary new talent, taking Nordic Noir to soaring new heights.

Snowblind is the first book in Ragnar Jonasson's Dark Iceland series centred on Ari Thór Arason. In this novel he is a rookie officer who, when he accepts a job offer, must move away from Reykjavik and his girlfriend, and adapt to life in Siglufjörður, a quiet fishing village in the far north of the country. He learns from Tómas, the police sergeant in charge of Siglufjörður police station, that nobody ever locks their doors because there's no point as nothing ever happens. Ari Thór's sense of isolation at this news is immediately palpable, he's in a strange town, one that views outsiders with suspicion and he somehow has to learn to work within this tight-knit community but if nothing happens how can he ever hope to be accepted?
However, the sudden death of celebrated local author, Hrólfur Kristjánsson, immediately plunges him into a case and he finds himself caught up in the secrets and lies of this little community. At first it is widely believed that Hrólfur's death may have been a tragic accident but Ari Thór suspects this may not be the truth, leading him to become further isolated from the locals who object to his questions about their relationships with one another. When a young woman is then found brutally attacked and left for  dead, half-naked in the snow, it appears they may really have a killer in their midst. With the only road out of the town blocked following an avalanche, tensions rise as Ari Thór battles to control his growing claustrophobia as he strives to find the killer when he doesn't know who he can trust.
 We slowly learn more about the community as Ragnar Jonasson cleverly switches the perspective numerous times meaning we discover little snippets about the various characters from their own thoughts and actions. There is a risk with multiple points of view that the narrative becomes confused but that never happens here, instead this gradual drip-feeding of hidden truths helps to build the tension and increased my desire to turn the pages to discover more. Ari Thór is an engaging protagonist, instinctive and impulsive; the twists and turns kept me captivated and the descriptions of the landscape and weather in Iceland are beautifully and atmospherically described.
I found Snowblind an unsettling read, perhaps because I suffer mildly from claustrophobia myself, the overwhelming sense of being trapped in this dark little town was palpable. I became so immersed in this world, in which the landscape was as much as character as the people of Siglufjörður, that I physically felt the tension, my chest became tight and I could sense the unease in the pit of my stomach. This of course, is in a strange way, exactly what I loved about Snowblind, to experience that deep connection with Ari Thór meant once I picked the book up I didn't put it down until I'd read the whole thing. To say a book made me feel anxious may seem an odd way to recommend it but I mean it as the highest compliment, to write a novel I felt as well as read is something very special and I thoroughly recommend Snowblind to anybody who enjoys gripping, atmospheric thrillers. I've already started reading the second book in the series, Nightblind!

Snowblind is published in the UK by Orenda Books. You can follow Ragnar Jonasson on Twitter as @ragnarjo and Orenda as @OrendaBooks

About the Author

Ragnar Jónasson is author of the international bestselling Dark Iceland series. His debut Snowblind went to number one in the kindle charts shortly after publication, and Nightblind, Blackout and Rupture soon followed suit, hitting the number one spot in five countries, and the series being sold in 15 countries and for TV. Ragnar was born in Reykjavik, Iceland, where he continues to work as a lawyer. He also teaches copyright law at Reykjavik University and has previously worked on radio and television, including as a TV-news reporter for the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service. Ragnar is a member of the UK Crime Writers’ Association (CWA) and set up its first overseas chapter in Reykjavik. He is also the co-founder of the international crime-writing festival Iceland Noir. From the age of 17, Ragnar translated 14 Agatha Christie novels into Icelandic. He has appeared on festival panels worldwide, and lives in Reykjavik with his wife and young daughters.

Thursday, 18 May 2017

The Orenda Roadshow - An Evening of International Crime Fiction at Waterstones Piccadilly



After finishing work yesterday (when I discovered a small girl actually believed I was 106 years old!), I didn't go home and curl up with a book - or google the latest anti-ageing treatments... Instead  I took the train to Waterloo and after a few hours of enjoying the rainy streets of London, I made my way to Waterstones Piccadilly for the Orenda Roadshow - An Evening of International Crime Fiction. I've made no secret on this blog of my admiration for Orenda Books, Karen Sullivan is a brilliantly astute publisher who specialises in crime fiction from around the world. The opportunity to attend an event where you could see fifteen of the brilliant Team Orenda authors talk about their books and read an excerpt from them was too good to miss. I've read several already of course, and with the others all on my bookish radar, I knew I wouldn't be coming away empty handed.

Johana Gustawsson talking about Block 46

The evening began with an offer to try aquavit, three of the authors attending (Gunnar Staalesen, Thomas Enger and Kjell Ola Dahl) are Norwegian and it was also the Norwegian Constitution Day yesterday so only right we helped them celebrate. It felt especially apt for me as I'd been reading Gunnar Staalesen's new book, Wolves in the Dark on the train - although admittedly Varg Veum drinks rather more than a shot glass of the drink! Once we were all seated Karen introduced each of her authors in turn and then they told us a little about themselves and their most recent book. We learned that there used to be just one television station in Iceland, it didn't broadcast on Thursdays or at all in July which might explain why they're a nation of readers, Johana Gustawsson is a Swede killer, Thomas Enger is co-leader because of his bag carrying prowess but has a serious rival for the position in Antti Tuomainen and some of the authors turned to crime (fiction) because there's no money in historical fiction, poetry or farming!

Paul E. Hardisty captivating the audience with an extract from Reconciliation for the Dead

Karen then asked each author to read an excerpt from their latest book. This was a real goosebumps moment for me: whether hearing the words of a book I already know and love, or listening to an extract from a story I'm looking forward to reading, there's always something very special about having the author read their own words. I can honestly say I was enthralled and again blown away by the calibre of writers published by Orenda, each and every book published is an absorbing read and always beautifully written. There was then time for a short Q&A session when we learned more about the research some of the authors have done before writing their books, and how it feels to write some of the darker, more horrific scenes (and now I'm looking forward to what Matt Wesolowski has up his sleeve because it sounds intriguing - and disturbing...)
Matt Wesolowski reading from the gripping Six Stories

We then had the chance to mingle with the authors over a drink and a slice of chocolate cake, and to have our books signed. There was also a table of temptation, laden with Orenda books to buy. I selected three but could easily have picked more, if only I had a Thomas Enger or Antti Tuomainen to carry my books! I was delighted to have the opportunity to talk to Johana Gustawsson, whose Block 46 is one of my books of the year, I will be reviewing it soon for the current blog tour, and Paul E. Hardisty, author of the very first Orenda book I ever read, The Abrupt Physics of Dying and whose subsequent novels, The Evolution of Fear, and Reconciliation for the Dead have cemented my belief that he is one of the most exciting and intelligent writers of action thrillers around today. It was also lovely to be able to meet two of the authors I've not read yet, Michael Malone and Louise Beech. I'm looking forward to reading A Suitable Lie, and The Mountain in My Shoe soon and even more delighted to be a recipient of Louise's breasts...

 Karen is clearly and justifiably proud of each of her novelists, I came away from the evening even more convinced that she is a true force for good within publishing; the support she gives to her authors, and the relationship she has developed with book bloggers is inspiring a growing number of loyal readers.
It was only when I finally left the warmth of Waterstones and headed back into the rain that I realised it was almost nine o'clock and I had to run to catch my train. It was probably just as well I'd only bought those three books - I just hope somebody figures out a way to clone the bag carriers for next time (please be a next time!) because I know there are even more fabulous stories to come from Team Orenda!

I'm going to need a bookshelf dedicated to Orenda soon

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Book Review - Will of the People by David Hurst




“If you close that door on me, it’ll be murder.”
“No Mr Brand, it’ll be justice.” 


Will Of The People is a Lord Of The Flies-esque allegory for this infantile political era – asking what would we think if children behaved just as badly?

Will is a friendly teacher who lets his class call him by his first name, and who he collectively calls the People. On a school trip, they are travelling in a coach through a Spanish mountain tunnel when an earthquake leaves them trapped. Within their new world, when Will becomes ill, the children have to take charge…


Will of the People is a difficult book to categorise, on the one hand it's an exciting, albeit dark at times, story for children. It's also a biting, occasionally humorous political allegory. This means of course it can be enjoyed by a wide audience, although I suspect the further to the right your political opinions the less you'll want to read it...
The story opens with a coach load of school children from England and their two teachers, on a trip to Andalucia, caught up in traffic after a small earthquake had brought down a tiny part of the tunnel they are in. Their frustration soon turns to terror as a massive earthquake causes the tunnel to collapse. Many of their fellow occupants are instantly killed and with his fellow teacher unaccounted for, it is left to Will Folk to try to restore calm - but Will's foot is trapped under a large rock. Taking advantage of Will's predicament, class bully Tom and some of the other children leave the coach in search of food. Fortunately a young but emotionally advanced young lad, Dani remains on the coach and administers first aid to Will. Eventually he is freed but badly hurt and barely mobile he is unable to stop Tom's gang from leaving the coach to set up camp elsewhere. Away from Will's compassionate and sensible guidance they are easily manipulated by those that prefer to lead using divide and conquer tactics.
What follows is a gripping story of two rival groups of children battling to survive not only the conditions in the tunnel but also each other - and themselves. The frequent aftershocks, precarious rocks and debris, poor air and limited resources would be enough to cope with but add in monstrous egos, violent aggressors and a need for something in their lives, even if that something leads to hatred and bloodshed, and before long Will, Dani, his best friend, Asad and their friends face an uncertain future at the hands of those who should be working with and not against them. 
I never felt the political allusions detracted from the flow of the story, some were lighthearted, "you kip", while some had a darker humour to them, and I enjoyed trying to work out if certain characters represented more well known political figures. The strongest and most poignant allusions were at the more distressing points of the story however, and shone an uncompromising light on the way those seen as different, particularly refugees are treated, and how people are manipulated to believe they are more threatened by those who have very little than those who have power. In some ways it's quite a bleak story, as with our turbulent times there are no easy solutions and not everybody is willing or able to reflect on their behaviour and examine their beliefs. However, it's not entirely without hope, the humanity shown by Dani and Asad in particular show that there is still good in many people. We are reminded too that even what seem to be the coldest of hearts has the capacity to change. 
I'm mindful not to give the impression that Will of the People will only appeal to those interested in politics. While I think an awareness of this 'alternative facts' era is useful in really appreciating David Hurst's intentions, this is still a cracking story. It's tense, dark and has a few surprising twists. I think it would also really appeal to older primary school children who enjoy well structured stories where kids of their own age drive most of the action. As with all good stories they may even learn something and consider what sort of world they want to shape. Will of the People is a book for the people, young and old.

Will of the People can be purchased on Amazon. Follow David Hurst on Twitter as @DavidHurstUK and @FolkTalesEU

About the author


David Hurst is an author and prolific freelance writer published in British national newspapers & magazines; as well as in Spain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Ireland, USA & UAE. He also helps people with addiction and relationship problems on a voluntary basis. David is married to Debs and a hands-on daddy to his amazing two little boys.