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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on 14 January 2008
The first thing that hits you when you read the opening lines of Altered Life, is the fact that it is in the First Person. This of course is the standard format for the genre; ie, Crime / Detective / PI stories; but it has rarely been accomplished well since the days of the famed Raymond Chandler; well that is not the case here I am delighted to say, UK based writer Keith manages to put First Person back up where it belongs, on top of the pile, due to his great forte for the style as shown here.

Minus the seedy monologues involving dames and broads and neon lit corner diners providing the only light on dark rainy nights, Keith Dixon stoutheartedly keeps the style of delivery firmly on this ( UK ) side of the Sargasso, and makes the first person narrative style all his own. Altered Life is a tale of a private investigator, Sam Dyke, who is asked by a management consultant, Rory Brand, to investigate his beliefs that someone is trying to scupper his business and steal new software related to the still burgeoning Human Resource culture-monster which is engulfing all aspects of Personnel and Recruitment in both the private and state sectors in all countries where paint bombing and away-days are King.

The story has a surprising very early twist and this then really sets the scene for the rest of the tale; so much so I cannot relate it here as it would be a Class 1 Spoiler. But, the combination of A1 narrative and dialogue, the totally believable characters, and the tense situations punctuating the overall plot, make this a great story by a great writer. Keith once won an award for one of his earlier offerings, let us hope he repeats this achievement with - Altered Life. Well done, Keith, here's to your next offering.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 26 February 2014
When I started this book I thought it was going to be a 4 star book. However, after a good start it seemed to fall
away a bit and I cannot quite say why.

Sam is a private detective, but with attitude! I wouldn't have been surprised if he'd been punched on the
nose a few times, the way he spoke to people! When a would-be client is murdered, Sam feels guilty for
turning him down and decides to investigate the murder. When Sam's ex-wife pops out of the woodwork, life
gets complicated.

I did think Sam spent too much time driving from place to place around the country, just to have a short
conversation with people, when a phone call would probably have done the job. And there were too many descriptions
of towns, areas, buildings, etc. instead of getting to the action. But I suppose it filled up the story.
Also there seemed to be some dispute over whether he was going to get paid for all this work.
Finally, I do so hate it when perfectly intelligent people agree to meet a known murderer in a dark, isolated spot!!!
As if anybody would!

However, this was an o.k. read and I would probably read another in the series some time.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 5 December 2013
Sam Dyke is a very likeable, intelligent private detective. The story begins with the murder of Sam's latest client, the dynamic, ruthless head of an apparently thriving business consultancy. Sam's investigation of his late client's murder has enough twists and turns to keep you reading through to the action-packed end. Although I enjoyed the story, the sharp, clever dialogue and the strong characterisation, I nevertheless found my attention wandering from time to time. At first, I couldn't put my finger on why this was happening but then I realised the book never really explains exactly what a business consultant does. Because of this, there was a lack of tension surrounding the business aspect that never really picked up at any time. Once the author began to stray into the realms of transactional analysis to explain a character's motivation, things fell apart a bit although they did pick up again in places. I certainly feel that Sam Dyke is deserving of his own series as there is plenty of scope for him in the future.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
I came across Keith Dixon three or so years ago when I first published my novels in print via Lulu. Though I don't remember specifically chatting with him, his was a name I regularly saw on various Lulu forums and I had been left with the impression that he likely wrote well.

When someone recently suggested I should read "Altered Life", I recognized Dixon's name and decided to see if my past impressions had been correct so I gave his first novel a go. I confirm that Dixon not only writes well, he writes exceptionally well.

In the spirit of Chandler's Marlowe, though with an unmistakable British voice and style, Dixon's prose flows seamlessly and pulls in the reader from page one. His characters are real; flawed, imperfect, human. His story is well thought out, believable and holds together without the slightest glitch. Though not a novel of non-stop action, the suspense grips the reader and forces him, or her, to read just another page, or chapter, or more.

As an added bonus, Dixon's grammar, copy-editing and formatting is among the best I've seen in recent years. I give "Altered Life" a well deserved 5 stars.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
TOP 500 REVIEWERon 24 November 2013
I really liked this book. I was immediately struck by the first person narrative which put me in mind of Raymond Chandler, and I was therefore surprised to find that it was set in North West England rather than West Coast America. There were several potential suspects, most of whom had reason to dislike the victim, but how much did they dislike him? Most people would put up with the humiliation he dished out and then either get on with their jobs or quit, but for someone a line was crossed, a final straw was added to the camel's load and action was taken. There is a twist early on in the story which I certainly wasn't expecting, nor was anyone else apparently; this was followed by a series of smaller twists which kept the story fresh and engaging. I didn't work out who the perpetrator was but I was wary of their partner in crime, although I don't know why. I certainly wasn't surprised by that person's identity
I liked the realistic nature of Sam's reactions to his injuries - he doesn't just get up and carry on regardless, but I do have to say that I wish my migraines would disappear as quickly as his seem to. Whatever he takes - I want some. I could sense his frustration at being arrested and detained when he felt the need to be out investigating himself, and felt the need even more for the police to be doing their job right and investigating the crimes rather than investigating his investigation of the events.
I look forward to more Sam Dyke books in the future.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 20 July 2013
I like thrillers, particularly detective thriller and I've read a lot of them. However, this one stands out. Not only does it avoid the usual clichés, but the characterisation of the main character, Sam Dyke, is particularly well conceived.

Another plus is the early twist that made me sit up straight and take notice. Sam Dyke's personal life is much more interesting than the private detectives we usually come across in this genre.

Next, I'm always grateful when a UK writer takes on the genre as most US writers fall into the trap of trying to out-Chandler, Chandler.

Finally, this book is crisply written by a writer fully in command of his use of language, of pacing, of structure and of the settings he uses. Practically error free, this was a major plus.

Overall, an excellent read, which I recommend to lovers of the genre. Now, I'm going to read the next in the series.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 15 August 2013
I actually read the second book in the Sam Dyke series first (the Private Lie) as I hadn't realised there were others. That first introduction to the author really grabbed my interest and I immediately down-loaded the other 2 books in the Sam Dyke series.

This book is actually the first in the series, but the characters are so well formed, it did not in anyway detract from my reading pleasure that I had read them out of sequence. Each book clearly stands alone, though they are linked via the recurring characters.

Keith Dixon creates strong visual impressions, of both his characters and his settings, which drive the narrative forward without any of the usual clichés prevalent in this genre. When an author keeps you up to the early hours of the morning, because you can't go to sleep until you've finished the story, then you know you're on to a winner.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 17 August 2012
Altered Life is a really good read. The story's unexpected twists and turns keep up the momentum, which prevented me from putting the book down for very long before reaching for it again.....Looking forward to reading the next book in the series!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 12 July 2014
I thought this was going to be a riveting read but how wrong I was. The author must have thought he was writing about Sam Spade rather than Sam Dyke (a former customs and excise officer from Cheshire!!). I kept waiting for the phrase "the broad walked into the joint" or "the dame looked over at Sam, all mean and moody".
Really bland, uninspiring, clichéd and too much geographical information about parts of Cheshire just to fill pages up.
Glad I didn't pay for it and even came very, very close to giving up on it.

Won't be downloading any more of his novels :-(
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on 19 November 2013
Loved the main character Sam. With his " I have flaws and make mistakes attitude. " He's a straight talking sort of guy that you would want on your team . Like able and no nonsense hard working with strong ethics to find the truth and make sure the bad guys are brought to justice.
The story line was punchy and kept you wanting to read more. Although if I am honest l nearly gave up after the first two chapters it was a slow start . I was a little bored and didn't give much hope for it to pick up. Glad I kept reading as there were lots of twist and turns. Just as you thought you had the characters filed away and found not guilty some thing popped up to send that theory out the window. There was also a few hints of history that explained Sam's character and a big shock for both Sam and the reader that no one saw coming. Which I believe formulates the next book.
Don't be put off by the slow build up as the book comes in to its own and draws the reader in to the final battle of wills as the case comes to a cliff hanger conclusion.
I would rate it 4 star purely for the fact the start was lacking the draw me in factor.
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