Eric Brown's Revenge is a Barrington Stoke book that is written as part of the Most Wanted series. It is written using the publishers' own font and with further line spacing to make it easier to read, to appeal to those with forms of dyslexia and also reluctant readers who find the usual cramming of words a put off.
Revenge delves into the world of professional football, introducing us to the life of Dan Radford, striker for City, who comes home drunk the day before a game to find a burglar in his house. After a struggle, Dan manages to lock the violent and threatening burglar in a room down in the cellar, but things escalate, and Dan, drunk, falls asleep and forgets about him.
The rest of the story deals with the events immediately following this, and how a simple mistake can develop into further drastic consequences. There was a string of well publicised burglaries involving pro footballers' houses a couple of years ago, but I don't think the majority of the public had a clue how these footballers' and their families were feeling afterwards. I suppose it's something you just can't put your finger on. I know I haven't experienced it, thankfully, and I honestly don't know how I would react if I came home, drunk, and found someone in my home threatening to bury me.
It also deals quite well with paranoia, and how the power of words and threats from the burglar, even when he's behind a locked door, can put you in a whole state of worry. Dan finds himself in a complete quandry, not knowing what to do and also worried that the authorities and press will roast him for what he has done, and firmly believes he could be found in the wrong. In a clever but indirect way, Eric Brown deals here with the often grey areas in the law that deal with the use of reasonable force when you confront a burglar. I remember when I was reading law at Uni we came across a case where a house had been burgled in the middle of the night, and the owner, protecting his family, had fired a shotgun at the burglar. Courts ruled against the owner, saying the burglar had been retreating at the time and that shooting him was unnecessary and over the top.
This example, as well as others, is what came to my mind when Dan starts questioning himself and remembering things in the papers about people being prosecuted for going over the top with a burglar. Personally, I think if a burglar puts him or herself in the position of committing burglary, then they should suffer the consequences. I know if someone was in my house with my wife and child potentially at risk, I would put their safety above all else. Here, it's a little different, as Dan is worried that time has passed.
But Revenge is the title, and it comes into the story quite well with the sneaky introduction of the burglar's wife. It makes things that little bit more tense than they already are, and you wonder whether there's a twist in the tale coming or not. I found Brown's writing to be very flowing, and this 100 page or so short story flew by. I must have read it in a bout half an hour. I suppose the pages do have less words than a regular book would, so this partly explains how quickly I read it. However, it's a good read, and I didn't put it down at all.
The only issue I have with this book is one that is common to all Barrington Stoke books: the price. Other series of short stories, such as the Shades collection or the Quick Reads, come in at £2.99 or £3.99 or thereabouts, but the Most Wanted books and other publications from Barrington Stoke are priced at £5.99. I just feel this is far too much for a short story. Beautifully presented, yes, but when you're aiming at getting reluctant readers to pick up a book, I think making the price more in line with other series and fair compared to full length novels would be a big step. Recommended, but beware the price.