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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Impressive
Hard,gritty, dark and foreboding -the author makes Manchester seem as though it exists in another world.
I wasn't sure at first about the Manchester 'language',but at the end it is crucial to the story and would not work half as well had it been in ordinary English so well done to Tom Bell on this.
I also liked the fact that there is no hero as such - why...
Published 4 months ago by Downing

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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not the Bane of my life
An occasionally atmospheric crime drama set in Manchester just after the IRA bomb. The anti-hero, Bane - a legman for local crime lords investigates the death of an old sweetheart and gets drawn into people trafficking; drug deals and the murky underworld of Manchester low life. For me Tom Benn neither achieved the Mancunian milieu or the nineties setting and his main...
Published 19 months ago by DN PERKS


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Impressive, 6 Aug 2014
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This review is from: The Doll Princess (Bane 1) (Paperback)
Hard,gritty, dark and foreboding -the author makes Manchester seem as though it exists in another world.
I wasn't sure at first about the Manchester 'language',but at the end it is crucial to the story and would not work half as well had it been in ordinary English so well done to Tom Bell on this.
I also liked the fact that there is no hero as such - why should there be?
The main character Bane comes across as deeply flawed as the villains.
I have given this novel four stars - a five star is for a book i couldn't put down and wanted to read all through the night.But this novel is almost there.
Richard Downing (author of The Devil's Tattoo and Gaijin House)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great for a train journey, 24 Jun 2014
This review is from: The Doll Princess (Bane 1) (Paperback)
A fast-paced and nasty book of a black Mancunian underworld, told in well-accented dialogue and great for a train journey
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars I had to read this book quite slowly, just to get the accent right. Indeed, I even read it aloud., 19 April 2013
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This review is from: The Doll Princess (Bane 1) (Paperback)
A contemporary tale, but I found the dialect a bit irritating. I just didn't get the denouement. A good read.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful but poetic - an anti-hero with an 'eart of gold., 22 Jan 2012
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C. Smellie "CandyS" (Over, Cambs United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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Rarely do I write reviews. Not that I don't want to it's just that generally there are so many that one voice amongst the many would be lost. That said, this is clearly so far ahead of any books I've read recently that I feel honour bound the write something about it.

I bought the book on the recommendation of my daughter who was on the same course as Tom as she said it was definitely the sort of book I would enjoy. She was correct. It was brilliant. So good I had to read it in one sitting - there was no putting this one down. Tom wirtes in short bursts; sentences so punchy it amazing you don't feel bruised at the end of the paragraphs. One such really brought home to me his skill. The protagonists are driving into the country (somewhat foreign to them you feel) and Tom describes it like this:
Barely fields on the left of the A road. Scraps of forest to the right. Badger roadkill ahead.
Needs nothing more really. Brilliant.

In Henry Bane, Tom has created an anti-hero but one you really want to survive. He's not really a very 'good' person but he looks out for 'our Gordon' and wants to get to the bottom of a mystery concerning an ex-girlfriend. To this end, he takes leave of absence from his employer - a fabulous character and an Elvis impersonator, and chases clues across the Manchester landscape while drinking copies mugs of 'brew'. I can't wait to see where Tom takes this cast but I hope we will see Bane again sometime very soon.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping, 21 Jan 2012
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I can honestly say this is one of the most thrilling and compelling books I've read. One reason for this is the way Benn combines fantastic Manchester dialogue with Bane's razor sharp wit, placing the reader right in the thick of the action while making them laugh. Another is Bane himself, the good bad guy you can't help but like.

I'd like to thank as well as congratulate the author on an amazing job - book 1 was rewarding on its own, but I can't wait for the second.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Henry Bane - A real antihero, 17 Jan 2012
A great read, with gritty atmosphere and stylish writing.

The story is told through the eyes of Henry Bane, which Benn brings to life via an excellent and stylish first-person narrative. Don't expect any excessive, long-winded flowery descriptions in this book. Bane's narration is concise and realistic, giving some excellent one-liners during this story.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Refreshing, original and fantastic...., 29 Jan 2012
From all the great press this book has received, I was curious to see what all the hype was about.
This book was an exciting, engaging experience. Benn is a very passionate author who has made the characters in the book its strongest attribute; Henry Bane being my personal favourite. Any young writer should enjoy Benn's style and originality.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars very, very promising, 17 Jan 2012
Only recently took delivery of this book, but decided to get stuck in to it straight away. Havent yet finished it but its turning into a really good read, a good page turner, and with it being based in Manchester i have no problem understanding the dialect, which is right on the money. Like i said, not yet finished ths but already looking forward to the next one.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Unsatisfying magpie crime fiction, 9 Jun 2013
The Doll Princess was a big disappointment to me, floundering under a tedious over use of practically phonetic Mancunian dialogue, fatal under characterisation of the lead and a nagging suspicion that I'd read / seen it all before.

The book blurb mentions the author has been through a creative writing course and the story feels like it's been cobbled together by someone 'borrowing' elements from other works that he's put a lot of time into studying. Get Carter seems to have featured highly in setting up this story although unlike Carter, Henry Bane has little plausible motivation to get into the plot of Doll Princess. The dialogue has a whiff of a Mancunian Irvine Welsh, tho with so much filler chat, it tends to drag while the short sentences structure is very Ellroy, and commonly replicated these days.

Even Bane's name currently registers more for Tom Hardy's performance in Dark Knight Rises, a film which was released a few months before this book was published . . . perhaps cynical from me (although I see the second Bane book features a komodo dragon, recently featured in Skyfall).

The setting of 1996 is completely arbitrary, and made an even odder selection given the author was born in 1987. The constant references to the IRA bomb are pretty much the only sense of the era, bar the cop out tactic of constantly naming 'of the time' tunes playing in every club or flat Bane walks into. The mentions of Bane's Harrington jacket are in fact the only description we have on the character, bar a height reference against his pal Gordon. It's an odd choice to create such a blank character to lead a crime book, and as such the story never feels particularly thrilling.

Add in Bane's ability to constantly fall into plot progressions (ie he is detained by a government agency but, to aid the story, beats up the guy holding him hostage - in the back of a van - and is then treated to a torrent of exposition on the story) rather than make them and a predictable late twist to make the whole thing go 'a bit Chinatown' and the Doll Princess registers only as an over stylised and smug entry into the crime genre.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not the Bane of my life, 26 May 2013
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An occasionally atmospheric crime drama set in Manchester just after the IRA bomb. The anti-hero, Bane - a legman for local crime lords investigates the death of an old sweetheart and gets drawn into people trafficking; drug deals and the murky underworld of Manchester low life. For me Tom Benn neither achieved the Mancunian milieu or the nineties setting and his main character Bane was neither interesting enough or complex enough to be a hook for the reader. Some readers have described the writing as poetic but for me it was workaday and very much the prose you might see in a first novel. Clearly, if Benn intends this to be a series (book 2 is already out) then Bane has to be developed as a character and not everything can be developed in novel one. But he struck me as a somewhat flimsy character and at times the narrative was less than crystal clear. Ken Bruen, the Irish writer of the Jack Taylor novels (and more readily the Brant novels) can do this stuff much much better and Benn has produced a book that shows some promise but doesn't set the pulse racing or make me cheer on the hero. I might pick up novel two but only in the hope that there is more meat on the Bane.
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The Doll Princess (Bane 1) by Tom Benn (Paperback - 3 Jan 2013)
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