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The Timewaster Letters
The Timewaster Letters
by Robin Cooper
Edition: Paperback
Price: £5.99

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Unoriginal and unfunny, 30 Jun. 2013
This review is from: The Timewaster Letters (Paperback)
A complete rip-off of the "Henry Root" letters of 1980, but nowhere near as funny. In fact, it's not even remotely amusing.

Take your cue from the book's title, and don't waste your time reading this rubbish.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 19, 2015 8:30 PM BST

Map Addict
Map Addict
by Mike Parker
Edition: Hardcover

13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A wasted opportunity, 12 April 2012
This review is from: Map Addict (Hardcover)
Great title, great material, great idea - but what a total waste of a good concept.

It's never a good start when your author boasts about stealing - and it all went downhill from there. There is some very interesting information, as one might hope to expect, but it's all totally swamped by the author's ego - the whole book, really, is about him and his politics/sexuality(zzzz)/etc etc.
I have no idea who Mike Parker is - I've never met him, I've never even heard of him - and after wading through this book I really don't want to.

There was an opportunity here to write a really interesting, informative and entertaining book, but Parker's self-regard obviously took priority.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 24, 2012 4:50 AM GMT

Congo Warriors (Blue Jacket Bks)
Congo Warriors (Blue Jacket Bks)
by Mike Hoare
Edition: Paperback
Price: £15.99

17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Memoirs of a remarkable man, 14 Oct. 2008
In the blurb Colonel Hoare claims that "I believe that this book captures the spirit of mercenary soldiering better than anything else I have written" - and I have to say that I agree with him.

Unlike his earlier books, this is not a chronological narrative; it is a series of recollections of incidents and (particularly) of individual people from Colonel Hoare`s service as a mercenary officer in the Congo during the early 1960s. Drawn from a memory which is obviously still pin-sharp, these stories form separate chapters which are by turn exciting, poignant and amusing; and which as a whole give the reader an vivid insight into the varied motives behind an individual`s decision to fight as a mercenary.

Colonel Hoare's particular idea of mercenary soldiering (the Irish "Wild Geese" are his icon) is both realistic and naÔve. Realistic because of the standards of discipline and efficacy he personally achieved; and naÔve because he did not anticipate that the successors of 5 Commando would be even worse than their predecessors "Les Affreux" - men like the psychopathic "Colonel Callan", whose misadventures in Angola sounded the death-knell for all European mercenary ventures in Africa. It is perhaps significant that after Colonel Hoare's departure from the Congo, both the discipline and the efficiency of 5 Commando went rapidly downhill.

Altogether a thoroughly interesting and intriguing book.

Jannaway's Mutiny
Jannaway's Mutiny
by Charles Gidley Wheeler
Edition: Hardcover
Price: £15.37

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Mills & Boon meets the Royal Navy, 11 Oct. 2008
This review is from: Jannaway's Mutiny (Hardcover)
It is a long time since I have read such a deeply disappointing book. Mr Gidley Wheeler's earlier novel "The Raging of the Sea" was excellent, and I was looking forward to a similarly well-written book. What I found, in the opening chapters, was something written in the same style as the earlier book but transported, mutatis mutandis, to a previous era in which the main character was the father of the hero of The Raging of the Sea.

It doesn't work. The whole thing feels utterly contrived and shallow, an impression not relieved by the fact that the author's main characters - in both books - all seem to inhabit a tiny incestuous bubble in which all their individual lives are inextricably entwined. I found this irritating in the extreme. Frank Jannaway - the hero - is intimately linked with Sir Jervis Yarrow and his offspring: Roddy (under whom Frank serves at the time of the Mutiny), and Anita with whom Jannaway falls in love and then loses (when she discovers a Dreadful Secret) and who in later years becomes the mother of Peter Lasbury, Jannaway's son Steven's antagonist in The Raging of the Sea. "Uncle Vernon" turns out to be a Braddle (in The Raging of the Sea Steven Jannaway married another of the clan, Julietta Braddle, with whose brother Peter Lasbury had a homosexual encounter), and I have a horrible suspicion that Clara Gosthwaite, the daughter of the naval family with whom Anita lodges during her exile in Malta, is the Clara Braddle (Julietta's mother) of the earlier book. Just for good measure, several of the names of other naval characters from The Raging of the Sea - Arborfield, Courteney, Whettingsteel - crop up here with irritating regularity. Coincidence is fine to a certain, believable, extent - but all these contrived "coincidences" draw rather too large a bill on my credulity, as indeed does the entire book.

Quite apart from this, cliché is piled upon cliché throughout. Without exception, the characters are mere two-dimensional puppets who never fail to conform to their author's stereotypes. Frank Jannaway himself, an ephemeral but important ingredient in The Raging of the Sea, is here reduced to a simulacrum of his son forty years removed (a "book out of the window" moment occurred when Frank joined his first ship as a potential officer to find a mock pub sign above the wardroom door - exactly as his son did in his first ship as a Sub Lieutenant), but without the same depth of character. The character of Roddy Yarrow, Frank's antagonist, is wholly unbelievable. As a young teenager he sexually assaults Frank, and thereafter continues to act almost as a pantomime villain, a mere cardboard cut-out with no redeeming features whatever. Whilst it is quite possible that family connections might have saved such a man from the Geddes Axe as a Lieutenant Commander, it is remarkably unlikely - given the situation in the Royal Navy at that time - that such an obviously unsuitable officer should be promoted to Captain and given command of a cruiser.

The book only really comes to life when dealing with the Invergordon Mutiny itself, but even then the reader learns nothing he didn't know before. Frank Jannaway subsequently marries Dora (Steven's mother), and a chapter is lifted almost verbatim from The Raging of the Sea. To put the icing on the cake, the author ends with a toe-curlingly embarrassing "Epilogue" which attempts to give the book and its predecessor some credibility as history rather than fiction.

A glance at Mr Gidley Wheeler's website reveals that he considers his writing career to have been "killed off" by Sinister Forces acting on behalf of the Royal Navy/the security services/the Ministry of Defence (take your pick). The truth is much more mundane. Mr Gidley Wheeler wrote two or three very good novels in the early 1980s but on the evidence of this sorry sub-Mills and Boon effort, he has simply lost the knack.
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 13, 2009 9:48 PM BST

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