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Reviews of what you should be reading next.

Month: September 2017

GIDEON: THE BOER BLOOD by Malcolm Colley

By 1902 the war was over. It has taken three years and 330,000 soldiers to hammer 30,000 Boer men and boys into submission. The British employed a scorched earth policy and removed the women and children on the farms to stop the Boer Commandoes from obtaining supplies. Also with ammunition in short supply the Boers signed the Treaty of Peace of Vereeninging on May 31 1902. The Boers were forced to surrender their arms and sign a declaration of allegiance to the Queen.
Paul Kruger, the Boer leader, left the country but prior to him leaving he attempted to negotiate a deal with Holland and Germany for arms and ammunition in exchange for gold. The arms and ammunition reached the port of Lorenco Marques but the gold, sent by Kruger, went missing. It never reached the port so the ships sailed for home.
Into this chaos of the aftermath of the war with men, woman and children trying to make it back to the farms, Gideon Barron, an Irishman born in South Africa is accused of helping to steal the gold and hunted by his fellow Boers for treason. With the help of what becomes his friends, he attempts to prove his innocence. Travelling across, what was then, the Transvaal Republic they follow the path of the robbers
Meanwhile the true robbers manage to get away with most of the gold, some travelling into the Portuguese Protectorate of Mozambique and some beyond but some gold is left behind due to a misunderstanding.
This is just one of the many stories about the disappearance of the gold. According to many stories the gold never left South Africa. Some say the gold was worth £500,000 in the value of that time. Some say that there was no gold, that the boxes were filled with ammunition destined for the Boer Commandoes fighting on the front.

THE AUTHOR:

The author was born in South Africa in1942 and spent his teens of the 1950’s on a small farm just outside Naboomspruit in the Northern Province of South Africa, during which time he came to love the sounds, smells and sights of the bush. He did his basic training with 1st Special Service Battalion in Bloemfontein and has happy memories of army life in the bush. He also spent twenty-five years training in the martial arts.

During his work in a steel mill and underground in a diamond mine, he yearned to be back in the bush.

THE BOOK:

By 1902 the British war against South Africa, the so called “Boer War” was over. Paul Kruger, attempted to negotiate a deal with Holland and Germany for arms and ammunition in exchange for gold. The arms and ammunition reached the port of Lorenco Marques but the gold, sent by Kruger, went missing.

Into this chaos of the aftermath of the war, with men, woman and children trying to make it back to the farms, Gideon Barron, an Irishman born in South Africa is accused of helping to steal the gold. Wounded, he escapes but is followed and hunted by his fellow Boers for treason.

INSPIRATION FOR THE BOOK:

The disappearance of Kruger’s gold has always intrigued me. There are many stories, myths and legends about the whereabouts of this treasure. In this work of fiction adventure, I have put forward one possibility. I grew up in this area amongst these people whose stories to their grandchildren in the lamplight around the kitchen table, tell of the gold that may have changed the course of the war, told with the bitterness against the English.

WANT YOUR OWN COPY:

You can pick it up here.

Will To Live by Rachel Amphlett

will to live

Reputation is everything.
When a packed commuter train runs over a body on a stretch of track known to locals as ‘Suicide Mile’, it soon transpires that the man was a victim of a calculated murder.
As the investigation evolves and a pattern of murders is uncovered, Detective Sergeant Kay Hunter realises the railway’s recent reputation may be the work of a brutal serial killer.
With a backlog of cold cases to investigate and attempting to uncover who is behind a professional vendetta against her, Kay must keep one step ahead of both the killer and her own adversaries.
When a second murder takes place within a week of the first, she realises the killer’s timetable has changed, and she’s running out of time to stop him…

 

Many thanks to the author for giving me this book in exchange for an honest review!

Rachel Amphlett is a master at starting a story off by grabbing your attention, and this one is no exception. A horrific murder takes place on the railroad tracks and intrepid detective Kay Hunter is tasked with finding the killer.

WILL TO LIVE has two strong female characters: Kay and her coworker/sidekick Carys. Together they support each other and race against the clock to find the murderer before he kills again. I’m happy to report that the killer’s identity was not evident until nearly the end; and there were some delightful red herrings and twists along the way.

I can’t recall many murder mysteries taking place in railway yards, so I’m giving kudos to Amphlett for creating suspense in a creative location There is always a great opportunity to make death by train gory, and those who like a bit of gore will not be disappointed.

This installment delves a little deeper into the secondary plot of Kay’s personal mission – she is trying to find out who removed evidence from a previous investigation, causing friction between her and DCI Larch,a superior officer. Some hints are dropped but that part of the plot doesn’t have a lot of forward motion, much to my chagrin. I really want to find out who the guilty party is!

Kay Hunter’s character is completely human, which makes the book a good read. One reason is that she is not one of those perfect cops that never make a mistake; plus she has stress and self-doubt and guilt. She also has people on her side, which tempers Larch’s dismissive and possibly abusive attitude towards her. I so cannot wait for him to get his comeuppance in a future book!

The only thing that I would question is the mention of “antidepressants” used to drug the victims. Without any drugs being named, I was hard pressed to figure out what drugs were being used that could cause a reaction like that. I’m certainly not an expert, but that was a small detail that seemed out of place to me. This could be entirely my ignorance and not the fault of the author. Otherwise, the story moved along at a rapid pace. The ending wrapped things up neatly, leaving me both satisfied and ready for another round with Kay.

Amphlett is a writer that I would always say yes to. Her style is polished and realistic without being overly heavy on either dialogue or description – it’s a perfect blend of both along with plenty of suspense.  If you haven’t read any of her work I absolutely recommend it!

Want your own copy? You can pick it up here.

The Marriage Pact by Michelle Richmond

the marriage pact

In this relentlessly paced novel of psychological suspense, New York Times bestselling author Michelle Richmond crafts an intense and shocking tale that asks: How far would you go to protect your marriage?
Newlyweds Alice and Jake are a picture-perfect couple. Alice, once a singer in a well-known rock band, is now a successful lawyer. Jake is a partner in an up-and-coming psychology practice. Their life together holds endless possibilities. After receiving an enticing wedding gift from one of Alice’s prominent clients, they decide to join an exclusive and mysterious group known only as The Pact.
The goal of The Pact seems simple: to keep marriages happy and intact. And most of its rules make sense. Always answer the phone when your spouse calls. Exchange thoughtful gifts monthly. Plan a trip together once per quarter. . . .           
Never mention The Pact to anyone.
           
Alice and Jake are initially seduced by the glamorous parties, the sense of community, their widening social circle of like-minded couples.
And then one of them breaks the rules.
The young lovers are about to discover that for adherents to The Pact, membership, like marriage, is for life. And The Pact will go to any lengths to enforce that rule.
For Jake and Alice, the marriage of their dreams is about to become their worst nightmare.

Many thanks to NetGalley for this ARC given in exchange for an honest review!

Unfortunately, this book was a DNF for me. I was not interested in the characters at all, and the pace was very slow. Great idea, poorly conceived. That’s pretty much all I have to say about the book; I gave it two separate tries before I finally gave up about 25% of the way through.

You can pick up your copy here, in case you want to try it for yourself.

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