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This is the third novel I have reviewed by Jo Bannister; it follows 'the hireling's tale' and 'requiem for the dealer'. These previous two I really enjoyed, so I was keen to try this one when I came across it at the local Car Boot sale the other day.
About the author:
Jo Bannister so far in her writing career has written a total of 32 novels. She was born in Rochdale in 1951 but has for many years lived in Northern Ireland. The most famous star from these books is Brodie Farrell with the star of the one I'm reviewing Clio Rees starring in four books. This novel was written in 2005.
Synopsis of the book:
Clio Marsh is a writer; she has decided to challenge herself by going on a week long survival course in the remote Norfolk Broads. She is probably the least fit and athletic of the group of seven recruits. But by the end of day two all the volunteers are questioning their own sanity as to why they put themselves through this punishment.
Indeed the training is so tough that the following day with continuous driving rain and tough activities makes the group as one give up and walk to recover to the only real employer in this dead region a Chemical Company Growth Industries.
However next day one of their team is showing signs of what the locals call 'marsh fever'. They blame the Chemical Plant but cannot prove anything against them. When John dies the group are isolated and physically restrained from leaving the area and alerting the Police to the suspicious death. Clio and the remaining members of the survival team must try and find the truth but they must escape first.
My thoughts on the book:
My initial concern when I picked up this book, other than the last page would be torn out, was it would not be as good as the previous two I have read. However I am very pleased to say I really enjoyed this book too, it was a well written and very exciting novel.
From the very first page I was hooked on the story. I liked the idea of this strong minded young lady pushing herself on an endurance week, with super fit athletes appealed to me. To see in her words her struggle against these stronger fitter men and women in a desire to prove to people that she was tough too.
Having straight away got into the book, I started to enjoy both the style of writing the author used and the storyline itself. I wasn't sure who or why anyone might be killed and why. As the author was excellent as setting the scene and putting thoughts and doubts into the readers mind as to what was going to happen.
I was very impressed throughout by the storyline but without excellent writing it would not have been half as good. The author had a very clear idea about the plot and how it was going to be achieved as she threaded this too us with great skill. In a way that was faced paced at all times and exciting, indeed I had read the book in no time at all.
It was for me one of those incredibly rare books that once I picked up I didn't want to put down again. And when I had to I looked forward to coming back to it. Actually now I've finished it I feel quite sad and empty. (Get a life I here you say Chris!!)
The characters were all diverse and extremely well researched and described. While I found the star Clio Marsh a likeable and in many ways unlikely heroin. It was a couple of the supporting actor's most appealing Costigian one of her party and the local Publican Saul Penny I felt the empathy and understanding with.
If I have criticism about the book and to be honest I am struggling to find too many with this one. It was that the bad guys were a little too obvious and stereotypical of what you might accept. That said they were again well researched characters that maybe could have appeared a little more human and compassionate.
I really enjoyed the author's descriptive language. She described the baron wastelands with all its bogs, marshes and horrific weather superbly. At times I felt I could feel the team's exhaustion and frustration with their situation. Made me decide to never go on an endurance course too!!
The chapters were just the way I like at about 12 pages each, short and punchy with something happening the whole time to grab and maintain the reader's interest. Maybe an epilogue would have been a good way to round the novel off but it wasn't really necessary in my view for this book, as I enjoyed deciding for myself what happened months down the line to the characters within it.
Again something that surprised me was when I was looking for a good web site about Jo Bannister. All I could find was sites trying to sell her books and some of those had not been updated since 2004!! All I was looking for was information about her. I do think a decent web site encourages people to purchase books so I think the author and the publisher are missing a trick here.
The overall length of the book was about right. It seemed to encompass everything required for a good suspense novel. Maybe a little bit more background on the characters prior to their week away would have been helpful. But it added a sense of mystery to some of them and made me wonder what secrets they might be hiding.
Another excellent and exciting thriller by in my opinion a very talented and hardly known author it would seems. I really enjoyed the book from cover to cover and I would certainly recommend this book as a great piece of fiction to anyone.
Publisher: Seven house Publishers
About the author: www.fantasticfiction.co.uk/b/jo.bannister
Thanks for reading my review.
This review was also published under mu user name on Ciao.
@CPTDANIELS June 2009.