Wednesday 29 August 2012

JOHN GORDON SINCLAIR - Seventy Times Seven (=490)

On Sunday evening, I went to the Edinburgh Book Festival to an event by John Gordon Sinclair.

I have to be honest and say that my visit was more to do with him being Gregory in Gregory’s Girl than because of the book he’d written.  Still, I was there with an open mind and was ready to find out what he was all about.
I was also rather intrigued about the change of image he might have to consider.  Surely he's one of the few authors out there who have the marks of a hard man added to a photo.
Before the opening, I spent some time in the book tent.  My main objective was to insert some of the postcards of my novel into some of the books on the signed editions shelves.

While I was there, I flicked through the first few pages of ‘SeventyTimes Seven’, Sinclair’s book, and was pretty impressed.  There was an immediate tension created and a dose of humour, two elements I love to see together.  So far so good.

The event itself was even better than I’d hoped.

Sinclair was engaging and entertaining throughout.  He offered anecdotes on acting, life and writing that were all the kind of things a fan might want to hear.  What impressed me most was the way he talked about the writing process.  This is his debut novel (‘One of the finest debuts of the decade,’ according to Ken Bruen), and he managed to settle my suspicions that he might only be putting out a book because he’s already famous and just needs a little more of an ego-thrill.  He’s done a lot of research, but as well as that he mentioned a wide range of reading material that he enjoys and this was reassuring.  He said that he set out to write a book that he’d want to read on holiday and also one that depicted violence in a realistic way as inspired by Cormac McCarthy.  Nice.

The book is set against the backdrop of Northern Ireland in the terrorist surges of the 1980s and is located in Belfast and a small town in Alabama and it looks pretty good to me. 

It was really good event.  Those who have tickets for the Bloody Scotland one in Stirling next month are in for a treat.  Those who haven’t and who might be tempted after reading this, you can go to the link here and get one.

A couple of minor points.

First off, well done JGS for simply avoiding the Tartan Noir/Ian Rankin question.  Mr Rankin is a star.  A hell of a writer.  An institution.  I wonder if he’s even surprised about the number of followers in the writing world he’s supposed to have spawned.

Secondly, Mr Gordon Sinclair, you need to practice your reading.  Slow down.  Add some expression.  Don’t bolt through it like you can’t wait for it to be finished.  Might I be so bold as to suggest that you imagine you’re reading from a script?  Remember you’re an actor and that reading comes easily to you.  The audience will appreciate the effort.

It so happened that I was sitting in front of JGS’s editor. 

Flicking through the book, I have a feeling of a fairly large editorial input.  There’s a bible quote to open and it relates to the title and I can’t help feeling that Faber set out to find a passage that fitted and then chose the title from there.  Maybe that’s a real job – finding biblical quotes for novelists.

Soon as the event was over, I passed on my promotional card to the Faber guys.  You can but dream. I also passed one on to JGS when I asked him to sign the book I’d decided to buy (I wasn’t going to, it was just such an entertaining evening and the book sounds like a cracker).  Course they didn’t buy a copy, but I have to dream.

As an aside, I caught a glimpse of Doug Johnstone in a shirt and tie.  He’s a Faber guy, too, and his books are bloody good.  Check out ‘Hit AndRun’ and you won’t be disappointed.

Great that my only visit to the book-fest this year was such a good one. 

See you in Stirling.

Wednesday 22 August 2012

One Man's Opinion: VOLT by ALAN HEATHCOCK

What an interesting book Volt (US) is.

Alan Heathcock is a teacher of fiction writing at an American university.  The attributes I imagine would go to making a good teacher of fiction are put on display in this collection and it is clear that the future of creative writing is safe for another generation.

That said, I do have a slightly mixed reaction to Volt.

The first three pages should be enough to convince any reader that they’ve made a good decision with their selection.  The power of it demonstrates just how to open a story.  And it moves on from there in a way that reeled me in without problem.  It tells of how Winslow Nettles deals with tragedy in his life in gripping fashion, the man sinking to depths most writers wouldn’t be able to imagine and certainly not execute in such a skilled fashion.  ‘The Staying Freight’, then, is an amazing opening.

And it gets better.

‘Smoke’ has a father and son bonding in a way that most family will hopefully never get to experience. 

‘Peacekeeper’ is better still, with a time-jumping piece that shifts back and forth to reveal the story of a missing girl. 

‘Furlough’ is the icing on the cake for me.  It’s my favourite here and is about a modern-day war veteran trying to find his feet. 
Here’s a little of Furlough.  Jorgen is telling the girl he’s escorting about his pet:

“I got a bird,” he said.
“A bird?”
“A little parakeet.”
“What’s she called?”
Jorgen felt uneasy.  “Don’t know,” he said.”Never called it nothing.”  Mary Ellen smacked his shoulder.  Laughed like he’d told a joke.  He watched her mouth, the white of her teeth, the gap in the front.  “Tried to set it free today, but it wouldn’t go.”
“Bet you treat it well.”
“It don’t say one way or the other.”
“It didn’t fly off,” she said.  “That’s how it says.
“I guess.”
“You might be too nice for my cousin,” Mary Ellen said.  “She’d eat you alive.”
“I ain’t that nice.”

Which is such a fine demonstration of who Jorgen is and adds to the sense of building menace of the story.

And there’s some beautiful description to illuminate the darkness of the work which acts as a counterpoint to the blunt overall style.  Try this picture of a building fire on for size:

‘In the lane, oil lapped tiny spectral flames like a riot of hummingbirds.’


When put together with the final story, these four make a collection that is just about perfect. 

In between them, however, are a handful of stories which didn’t do it for me. 
All the ingredients seemed to be there – the bleak outlook, the potency of individual sentences, the extremely well-written characters and the odd angles at which we get to see them – it’s just that I didn’t connect to them for some reason.  They felt a little long.  I didn’t quite get the meaning behind them.   Felt they ended without the emotional kick of the others. 

I suspect that my issues with these few entries might put me in the minority of opinion – you’ll just have to read them and find out for yourselves, for read them you must if you are on the lookout for really talented authors.

For the stories I loved, there’s no way I can offer any other review summary other than 5 stars. 

Sunday 19 August 2012


I grew up fairly near to a big river.  It always looked inviting, the kind of water that might be perfect for swimming in.  Adults, however, were always keen to warn against such folly - 'beware the undertow' they'd say.  They must have got their point across, for I never did venture in.  And there was a drowning there, no doubt of one who either hadn't heard, couldn't swim or was very stubborn.  Poor kid.
Ugly Behavior (US) brought such thoughts to mind. 
Upon entering, things seemed still and safe, but before long it had me.  Sucked under by the quality of the work and the menace of what lay beneath.
One story illustrates the writer's skills very well. It's about a man who lives in isolation.  His world is dominated by the images he's paid to work with.  His clients generally require something a little unusual.  In order to cope with the disturbing material he has to use, he focuses upon detail, practically seeing the world in pixels.  The author works with a similar attention to detail.  He managed to draw me in for a close look, then would zoom out to offer a bigger picture and then POW!
There are some recurring themes here - the difficulties of relationships, the difficulties caused by seeing the world from a fixed perspective, art and images, close-ups and distance, the complications of leaving trails of memory and the need to leave some evidence that we've been on the planet once death has been and gone.
I have a few favourite pieces to highlight.  The opener is like the deconstruction of a painting to show the story behind it, revealing why two owners might have found it too disturbing to hand on their walls.  Another is a tale of a young child who believes she has a malicious step-father as he makes his nightly visits, much to the chagrin of her mother who puts all the complaints down to the child's vivid imagination.
Other tales might be described better as tidal-waves rather than under-currents.  'The Child Killer' is the embodiment of a fairytale nightmare; it's dark from the off and had me gripping my kindle as if that would keep me safe in some way.  It's stunningly difficult and brutal.
Back to the idea of the image.  If this book were a painting, I'd describe it for you as a black canvas with a flash of red through the centre, the kind that looks simple until you get close and see the textures, fine undulations, the marks of the took, the shading and shape. 
These may be ugly behaviors, but they are beautifully described.

Friday 17 August 2012

Sleeps With The Fishes

It seems we've learned little from the diary of Anne Frank.

During a period of political complacency, the Pisceans and their water-carrier allies have taken control of the British government.

What has unfolded is a reign of terror.

First they went for the Leos. Now they're gone, it's the turn of the Capricorns to face the wrath of Piscean persecution.

Sound a little crazy?

A dystopian short story.

Amazon UK

Amazon US

Wednesday 15 August 2012

Dancing With Myself: JIM WINTER interviews JIM WINTER

Jim Winter sat down with himself to talk about his new book, Second Hand Goods (US). This alarmed Jim’s wife, but he persevered and got the interview.


Nick Kepler gets roped into looking for a stolen limousine by a beautiful Russian girl when all he really wants to do is go on vacation. He’s already on the slippery slope when a car thief he knows discovers that same limo in his chop shop. Before long, he’s in a shooting war trying very hard not to get his head blown off.


Life in general. I’ve been going to school for the past three years, and that’s slowed down my output to some extent.


They were. While Northcoast was getting passed around for the big group edit, I worked on Second Hand Goods. Many people said, “Shouldn’t you sell the first one before you write the second one?” I said I’ve seen too many bad second novels written by authors who had to scramble to meet a sudden deadline.


Well, Lenny Slansky (“A Walk in the Rain”) returns, and we learn some of his history with Kepler. There’s a new character, Eric Teasdale, who plays a role in this book and the follow-up, Bad Religion. And then there’s the relationship between Nick and Elaine. In Northcoast, there was a definite undercurrent of sexual tension there, but it was benign. In this one, Elaine is more blatant about her attraction to Nick, who has qualms about sleeping with a married woman. And we see Nick getting involved, reluctantly, with organized crime.


When I wrote this in 2003, they were newish. You couldn’t have the old goombahs anymore. The Five Families in New York have been severely weakened by RICO. The Mafia of old is virtually nonexistent in Cleveland. This was true back then as well. The Russians had just emerged as the new ethnic power in organized crime.


Supposedly he’s ruthless, and I think the nickname makes him scarier than he is. But the real reason is that, like John Gotti, he’s a slippery bastard, and the police and local feds are frustrated trying to take him down. So to them, he’s the devil. Of course, he has people killed regularly, so the nickname’s not much of a stretch.


I’m toying with releasing all the Kepler shorts, including one I’m working on now, as a collection. In the meantime, I’m going to do a new draft of Bad Religion, the third Kepler novel. It was in mid-revision when the publishing company folded.

Friday 10 August 2012


The Chalk Circle Man' (US) is the first Fred Vargas book I’ve read and I knew I’d become a fan of her work within a few pages.

This is an extraordinary book that has a different feel and flavour to any of the crime-fiction I’ve read of late.

Jean-Baptiste Adamsberg has just been appointed as Commissaireof the police headquarters in Paris’ 5th arrondissement.  He’s a small town boy arriving in the city as if by accident, who has the ability to solve crimes by using his intuitions, senses and uncanny thought-processes and has a reputation based upon that.  For the logic and collection of evidence, he relies upon his team.   After solving a murder by working on gut-feeling, he wins over the wonderful Danglard and from then on they begin to build an unusual relationship based upon like and mutual respect.

When the chalk circles of the title begin to appear around seemingly random objects across Paris, Jean-Baptiste takes an interest.  He senses that the objects contained within the circles are going to become bigger and that there’s something sinister at hand.  Danglard is detailed the job of keeping in touch with the circles as they appear, which is good because he’s a morning person – afternoon’s tend to be slightly less efficient due to the consumption of wine.  There’s a wonderful humour to the way the killing is introduced and the case proper begins:

‘Two circles were discovered: In the rue l’Abbe-de-l’Epee was the cork from a wine bottle, and in the rue Pierre-et-Maire-Curie, in the 5th Arrondissement, lay a woman with her throat cut, staring up at the sky.’

The joy of this book lies in the characters living within it and in the ambience created.

It’s seductive.  Gently paced.  Stimulates all of the senses.

Jean-Baptiste is a wonderful creation.  He’s handsomely ugly with an inner beauty that influences all those around him.  He’s an optimistic fatalist who ‘always set out feeling hopeful and disappointment was invariable painful.’  And how’s this for a superb description of a man – ‘Adamsberg was open to every wind, like a cabin made of rough planks, letting his brain receive fresh could imagine that everything that went in through his ears, eyes and nose – smoke, colours, paper rustling – caused a draught to whistle through his thoughts and stopped them solidifying.’

Danglard is also a gem.  He has 5 children to look after without help, bottles of wine to keep him sane, a love of information and logic and he talks his cases through with his kids when others might choose fairytales.

As if these two alone weren’t enough, there’s a great supporting cast:

Mathilde is a marine biologist who collects oddities, describes the world with reference to the sea, follows people like they’re objects of study and remains sexy in spite of her years.

Charles Reyer is the ‘beautiful blind man’ who Mathilde ‘collects’.  He’s bitter and awkward and likes to go up to seeing folk to ask if he can help them across the road.

Clemence Valmont is another of Mathilde’s oddities.  She’s old, but is constantly on the lookout for a husband through the lonely hearts.  Here’s one she decides not to reply to:

‘M. 66.  Well-preserved, large appetite, small pension, would like to meet F., not too ugly, small appetite, large pension, to keep each other company on the last stretch of the road.’

What I particularly like about this story is the way the solving of the crime felt almost incidental.  There are so many layers of interest that the attention is fully engaged without any feeling that there’s a need to rush.  It’s easy to get hooked to Jean-Baptiste’s pace and that makes the read such a pleasure.  I often envy the French for those long lunch-breaks when everything slows down and to me, this book has the feel of working slowly through a many –coursed meal where each plate is delicious and you just know whatever is coming next is guaranteed to be brilliant.

I’ve been a fan of Maigret for almost 30 years now.  I’m about to add Jean-Baptiste and Danglard right up there on the shelf next to him.

A delight.

Wednesday 8 August 2012

The Editors

Working alongside Chris Rhatigan for the two Pulp Ink books has been a real treat and an education.  It’s an education I’d love to continue at some point, so fingers crossed on my part.

There was a big difference of approach in terms of editing the two collections. 

For Pulp Ink, with all writers invited to participate, we left most of the stories as they were.  When suggestions were asked for we’d offer thoughts and opinions and it was only when Chris and I shared a thought that we asked for an author to consider a change or two.

This time around we decided that we wanted to actually earn the ‘editor’ mantle.

The submissions call went out and in the stories flooded.

That led to the first part of the editing process, deciding what we thought was good enough and then, if it was good enough, whether it fitted what we were looking for.

To some extent, a submissions call can only do so much in terms of framing the aims of the editors.  It would be impossible to list the nuances and subtleties of what we sought, mainly because we didn’t know what they were until the work arrived.  There was also the organic factor, that the shape of the collection began to form only when there were enough acceptances to see what that might be.  I guess that's partly instinctive.

Next comes the difficulty of rejection.  It’s not a pleasant business, but it’s a huge part of the package.  We were fortunate in some ways to have so many great submissions, but that good fortune meant that we needed to refuse entry to some excellent work.  Pieces that were worthy of publication just didn’t fit the bill.  Thankfully all writers in the ‘not this time, thanks’ pile were very professional and kind and I hope that they’ve found homes for the work since.

Axe wielded it was time for the editing proper.  We’d decided that we wanted to challenge ourselves here, that we’d push ourselves and some of the writers pretty hard.

The first thing to mention is that editing is so very different to proof reading.  Yes, you know that, but I’m mentioning it anyway.  The proofing work came at the final stage.

I’ve recently been on a journey as an author with the novella ‘Smoke’.  It had been very well received the first time around, but when Allan Guthrie took it on for BlastedHeath, he suggested a huge number of changes.  The first third he explained, the rest I was to extrapolate from the early process.  It was a real eye-opener to see the kinds of things I was doing habitually and also to find that things I thought were clever and subtle to be blown out of the water.  The good news was that it gave me further confidence for Pulp Ink 2, that I knew that pointing things out can be seen by writers as a helpful process rather than a critical one.

So what kind of things were we looking at?

There was no list.  Again, it was fluid and depended on a piece.  I guess that the following list might cover some of it.

Character.  Is there enough information to get a sense of the people involved?  Is there too much or too little?  Is the character described with too much back story or with clumsy dialogue?  Do we need a little more individualised actions to picture who we’re reading about.  Is the description there and in the right place?

Credibility.  This relates mainly to character.  Even in the most bizarre situations, the actions of a character need to be consistent (unless there’s an obvious reason why this shouldn’t be the case).  It also relates to real life.  If ‘x’ happens, would ‘y’ really follow, or would ‘z’ be more likely?  At what age would a young boy from a given background know the difference between white powder and drugs?  That kind of thing.

Imagery.  Has an appropriate image been chosen each time?  If not, can we push for a little more?

Voice.  Did a first-person narrative work or would third-person have been better.  Given the perspective, is it possible for the teller to know this or that?

Can we trim any flab from the story, from the paragraphs or sentences?  Is it all necessary.  Did that little bit of extra information that didn’t feel totally necessary get in the way of the drive of the piece?  If the flow was interrupted, what can be done?

Pronouns (GUILTY).  Do the pronouns make it clear who’s actually involved or has the reader been confused?  Simple, you’d think; not for me it isn’t, at least not at the point of writing.

Sowing seeds.  If the character is expected to act in a certain way at some point, can this be hinted at subtly at an early place in the story rather than having something arriving out of the blue?

Structure.  Can the organisation of a story be altered to achieve the best for the ideas?  The more complicated the structure, the more difficult it can be to follow.  Rather than tie the reader up in knots, keep feeding them the breadcrumb path to walk behind.

Constants.  Are there any contradictions to pick up on and explore?

Setting.  Is there any?  Too much?  Too little? 

Punctuation.  Can it be used better to give an improved ambience or flow?

Thing about all this is that, though some of the rules and thoughts might seem rigid, a rigid approach doesn’t work.  It’s a bit like teaching children; if one method worked for all, there’d be no need to do any thinking about finding a best approach.

I think that the knack to editing is to take the piece as it is and to apply as much of the above as possible in a way that’s appropriate to the style of the author and the theme of the piece.  There’ll be other things that come up and they’ll be individual to a writer or to a work.

The wonderful thing about having co-editors (especially when one’s called Rhatigan) is that there are two perspectives at all times.  In what I might think of as being perfectly formed, Chris might see something I hadn’t even considered (something I may not have ever thought about in relation to reading and writing).  I hope there was some vice-versa.  There’s also the bonus of having a voice to point out the answers to a question before the writer is approached; this means that unnecessary points are less likely to be made and that when the points are made there can be a good deal of confidence behind them.
From then, it's a matter of ping-pong until everyone's satisfied with the final result.  The editor isn't always right and nor is the writer.  There's an element of compromise sometimes and it's always there to be found.
Lastly there's the proofing.  Not my forte, I'll admit. 
All of this means editing is bloody hard work.  You read the pieces for selection.  Again for editing.  Again for rewrites.  Again for proofing.  Again for final proofing.  Don't take it on unless you have the will and the time.  All the folk out there doing it already, we all owe them a debt of gratitude.  Keep that in mind when you see a final product, especially with some of the mighty-fine collectons that are about.  Keep it in mind, too, when you're making a submission - make it easy for them.

Maybe some of that’s useful to you.  I hope so.

What I know is that Pulp Ink 2 is a tight, varied and well-written collection with some absolutely brilliant stories.  You really should have a dig around to find the nuggets.  If the book were in the Olympics, every one of them would be medallists and a heap of them would make the top of any rostrum.

Thanks to all the authors, to Chris, to Eric and Ron for their extra input with the cover and the paperback formatting (it’s beautiful) and to Snubnose Press for having the vision.

Available in the UK and the US

Tuesday 7 August 2012


Given the range of story ideas in this collection, it’s easy to see why David Barber chose the title ‘From A Crowded Mind’ (US).  His head must be buzzing.

Each piece is solidly put together and oozes darkness.

My favourite has a man and wife in conversation in a car parked at a loch-side.  It’s confession time and it’s the kind of moment that would make anyone feel uncomfortable.  As with all the stories, there’s a significant twist; in this one, it comes gently and was entirely unexpected.

There is a slight drawback to having so many twist-in-the-tale pieces together (though avid fans of the unexpected will have a feast on this one) which is that one begins to look for the catch.  This can mean that the eye is taken from the set-up and puts a weight of responsibility on to the surprise.  My suggestion is that to get the most from this collection, it might be best to read it amidst other books so that the stings will be fresh and painful every time you come across them.  Keep those endings camouflaged until the last moment.

That said this is a very entertaining collection, one that brought me a fair amount of pleasure.  I’ll make certain I’m back for Volume 2 when it arrives.

Sunday 5 August 2012


Keller.  What a gent.   A stamp collector who won’t take up contracts on children.  My kind of hit-man.

He began life on the page in a collection of killings that ran from one to another.  Because of that, he’s the perfect character for a standalone short. 

You don’t need prior knowledge to enjoy this one – Block provides enough back-story  to keep a newcomer informed without alienating those familiar with the work.

Here, Keller is a new person.  He has a new identity, new home-town, a family and a socially acceptable job.  Unfortunately, his work is suffering from the recession, so when his ex-boss Dot (no longer in White Plains or having the same name) gets in touch about a job, it’s difficult for him to turn it down.   The icing on the cake is that he can combine the killing with a stamp-collectors’ conference.

Keller’s different in his approach on this one that I’m used to.  A little rusty.  Not prepared to do all the careful planning.  He has Google (and maybe easy access to information has made us all a little complacent) to help him and something to lose. 

Thankfully he’s still agile in terms of improvising at the scene. 

This job plays out unexpectedly.  The twists and action keep the interest levels high.

It’s a pleasure of a read.  In some ways this read is a little bit like a classic car.  There might be the odd splutter from the engine and a dent or two in the body-work, but it purrs and flows when it’s on the open road.  It’s all you’d want from a hit-man story.

I had high expectations when I bought this and I certainly wasn’t disappointed. 



Saturday 4 August 2012


A couple of freebies for you:

Doug Lindsay has Lost In Juarez (US) for you and that should satisfy your needs.

If it doesn’t, you can still get Beat On The Brat (US).

If you’re still not satisfied, think about Joe Lansdale’s Bullets And Fire (you’ll have to pay for that one, mind).

Bullets And Fire (US)opens with the first person narrator relaxing in a bar after attacking a twelve year-old girl and breaking her nose.  He might not be that proud of it, but it’s what he had to do to prove his worth as he aims to achieve initiation into one of the local gangs.

Job done, he asks the men with him about their own initiation.  For me, the questions are a little bold for the narrator to be pushing at such an early stage and the lips of the gang members are a little too loose given their responsibilities.

Passing his test, the protagonist is taken along to the old bowling alley, not the gang’s hangout.  It’s a grim, primitive space, vividly described and bordering on the setting for a horror piece.  The setting shows Lansdale’s work off well.

From this point, the story unfolds with 3D smellivision and non-stop action.

It’s a good story, but not a great one.  There are many strengths to the piece as you might expect, but for me it lacks a little something – the dark edge of humour perhaps, a little more of a test for the main character or a little more deviation or some deviation from the path upon which things start.

Good work.  Solid work.  Worth reading.

Thursday 2 August 2012


Before starting, may I thank all those who've supported my giveaway of Beat On The Brat (and other stories) [US] - it's up there as the #1 Short Story in the freebies just now and I'm delighted by that.  You can still pick it up over the next couple of days if you're so inclined.
I'd also like to push you in the direction of another couple of freebies from Josh Stallings.  Out There Bad [US] and Beautiful Naked And Dead [US] are available as free kindle books today. 
Now to THE DONOR [US] by Helen FItzgerald.
I’m pretty sure I’m not in the group of readers to which this book might mainly be targeted, but I picked it up as a fan of the author and of Snubnose Press and I’m glad I did.

In Part One of the book, Barbara tells her story.  She’s a misfit orphan who lives in a mansion with her crazy mad-scientist uncle.  She delivers the most amazing (and shocking) of projects at the science project presentation day, inspired in part by her being an assistant back home to the cloning of animals; in the mansion, they’re paving the way towards to cloning of a human.

Barbara is infatuated by a boy and she’s prepared to do anything to get him.  She has a lot to do, mind, being and unkempt crazy with hairy legs and a taste for the macabre.

For help, she turns to a self-help book, which might not seem like a bad idea.  Taking it as gospel, however, isn’t necessarily the way to go. 

Barbara’s obsessive nature is a wonder to behold.  The sequence of events that follows the project presentation as seen from her perspective is emotionally charged and tinged with a disturbing trust in empiricism and a reader’s knowledge that not everyone is as naive as she.   

Barbara might be autistic.  Definitely has serious attachment issues.  She’s emotionally scarred and is impulsive to boot.  It’s difficult not to warm to her and to want to turn the light on as she fumbles down  passage of darkness to allow her to see the bigger picture.  It’s funny, hilarious at points and always edgy and original.  Superb stuff.

In Part Two, I felt a little less connected with the book.  This might be because I’m a middle-aged man and was in slightly unfamiliar reading territory (only at this point did I feel the strength of this as a Young Adult book).

We follow the story of Barbara’s cloned daughter. 

This allows us to consider how much Barbara’s state of mind is nature and how much nurture – that’s still got me thinking quite a while after reading. 

Barbara knows that there is no chance for her to put the pieces of her shattered life back together after the experiences she’s had in Part 1, but she’s hoping that science might allow her the opportunity to witness the recreation of history to produce a new outcome.  Better still, she’s motivated by a need for revenge.

For me, this is a book of 2 halves.  The first is wonderful and, if you’re up for watching the unfolding of science-fiction nightmares and their likely impact on matters of the heart, you might feel the second part is too.

Dip your toe and let me know.