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on 2 August 2012
Best known for his 'Good Thief's Guide To...' series of comedy/crime novels, Chris Ewan turns his hand to the more serious end of crime fiction with his newest novel, 'Safe House'.

Rob Hale is a plumber on the Isle of Man, called out to repair a boiler in a remote cottage by two mysterious looking men, and a more talkative young woman named Lena. The next day, he takes Lena on a motorcycle ride, which ends in a crash. Waking up in hospital, Rob asks about the woman travelling with him, only to be told she doesn't exist. Rob is discharged from hospital, intent on finding out who the woman was, and how she disappeared. He is aided by Rebecca, a private investigator hired by Rob's parents to look into the suicide of his sister, just weeks previous. However, as they follow the clues and begin to uncover the mystery, Rob starts to wonder who Rebecca is really, and how she knew his sister.

As a huge fan of his earlier work, this change in direction and genre from Chris Ewan immediately piqued my interest. Would a writer more well known for his humorous comedy crime capers, be able to tackle a serious thriller?

Of course he would!

What Ewan accomplishes with his first foray into the world of thriller writing, is nothing short of remarkable. Safe House begins with a great hook...what would you do if you woke up in hospital after an accident, and everyone around you denied the existence of the person you were travelling with?

From there, Safe House travels at high speed throughout. It's a breathless, exciting read, which had me turning the page well into the late nights. That initial hook takes you on a journey into action thriller territory, which is up there with the best writing in the genre.

Ewan also hasn't lost that humorous edge which came with his previous series of books. There are some fantastic dead-pan lines delivered by Rob, but Ewan saves his best work for the character of Rebecca. An incredibly sardonic and tough female character.

You know...tough is the wrong word to use here.

The character of Rebecca is an example of something sadly missing from this genre in some instances. A female character from the pen (or keystroke) of a male writer, which isn't over-thought out. Ewan gives the impression he's created her as he would any other character, giving her aspects of personality which would fit within any other character. In other instances, the opposite can sometimes be true, so this was a refreshing read. I dearly hope this character isn't left behind...

An exciting start, to what promises to be an excellent addition to the genre of thriller reads, Ewan has with Safe House created a fast-paced, excellently written, and superbly plotted novel. With characters which burst off the page from the start, and a new setting in the Isle of Man which I cannot wait to see explored further.
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on 10 January 2013
Fast paced thoroughly engrossing thriller with lots of twists and turns. Compulsive reading could not put this down but did not want it to end. First book by this author I have read and will definitely be looking for more by him.
Anyone who enjoys a good entertaining thriller should this book, more please and soon.
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on 17 December 2012
I only purchased this book, because it was in the 20p section and didn't really know what to expect. It has only taken me 3 sittings to read it. As although in places it seems really far fetched, it all becomes clear at the end. Easy to read!! Anyone who is interested in crime or detective novels this is a book for you. I would have gladly paid more--
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on 16 April 2015
I have just finished this book, and I have been reading some of the other reviews, of which there are plenty!

I am not going to write a synopsis, there are plenty of those in other reviews.

The book really seems to polarise opinions, but my view is that whilst the 5 star reviews are probably too generous, the 1 star ones are even more unfair (I find it quite amusing that some of the 1 star reviews criticise the spelling and grammar, but are full of grammatical and spelling mistakes themselves)

I actually really enjoyed the plot, yes it is quite involved, and sometimes it was a bit tricky remembering which character is which, but there were some nice twists and turns which kept me guessing about a number of things right to the end, it is definitely worth sticking with. The descriptions of the Manx geography, and the tie-in to the TT races were also very welcome.

I do agree to a degree with the reviews which criticise the characterisations, apart from the lead (Rob) I did think that they were a bit underdeveloped, which made it rather difficult to really feel any sympathy for them.

Some of the violence is a bit graphic, but there isn't a lot of it, and where it does occur it is not gratuitous, but rather included to give an insight in to the characters.

It wouldn't take a lot for this book to reach 4 or even 5 stars: making some of the characters more real; cutting out a few of the longer, more convoluted sentences; and removing a few 'Americanisms' (A Manxman calling a wallet a 'billfold' for example).
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on 31 January 2013
I've been looking at Safe House for a while now, wondering whether or not to buy it, but the sheer numbers of great reviews and the really stupid price made it a no-brainer.

At first I found the change from first person to third person a bit of a facer, but it does get easier and the pace of the plot ensures that the reader just wants to know what the hell is going on. As the owner of a golden retriever, Rocky made me laugh out loud, even though he doesn't play a huge role in the book. So let's deal with plot, setting and characters. The setting is the Isle of Man, a place I have always wanted to visit, though not at TT time, even though I used to be a 'biker's moll'. Ewan draws the landscape with a deft hand, pulling out enough to enable the reader to visualise but not so much that it gets in the way of the narrative. The plot has the kind of convolutions I love in a crime novel. It isn't often I get to the last two pages and I am still not sure who the bad guys are! Likewise there was enough detail about bike racing and bikes to authenticate the setting.

I especially enjoyed the way Menser was written. Calm, thoughtful, amoral, but with the beginnings of a conscience about past deeds. I loved Grandpa, too. I know a few Grandpas! The characters are complete, with the normal contradictions we all possess and that made them all the more believable. There were a couple of what I would call 'speed bumps', the most annoying being when Menser is following Rob into the Sports Centre. The reader 'stands' behind Menser, experiencing his thoughts and reactions. Then comes the sentence 'He didn't see xxx behind him'. Well, he wouldn't, would he? This abrupt shift from Menser's point of view to authorial overview was a jolt. The writing raised enough tension without that and we already knew Menser was being followed, so, sorry, I categorised that as 'lazy' writing and the book didn't benefit from it.

All in all, though, a good read and I will read more.
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on 21 December 2012
Gripping novel and believable characters ,was hard to put down, beware work will suffer reading this. Well worth the price
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on 25 February 2013
I bought this book on the basis of the multitude of good reviews and it started off well, setting up the characters and relationships up well. Unfortunately the climax never arrived and the ensuing drama didn't seem related to the build-up.

Reasonable for the price paid but didn't live up to the early promise.
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on 25 January 2013
I was looking for something new to read when I came across this one! I am so pleased I did. I LOVED the characters and the plot, which had some good twists and surprises. I didn't find the ending to be predictable. I will be purchasing more by Chris Ewan. I really enjoyed this book.
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on 25 December 2012
I bought this expecting it to be distinctly average at the meager price of 20p, and was very pleasantly surprised, so much so that I had finished the book in just a day, which was fast even by my standards. I won't go into the plot as others already have, but I will say that it is exciting, there are twists and turns everywhere, and it is obvious that real thought and planning has gone into the book. It is well written and the crossing between scenes and viewpoints in chapters works well.
If you haven't picked this up already, then I highly recommend it. At the time of writing, this is 20p, and I will be more than happy to pay full price for it.
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on 11 December 2012
I like a good thriller. The safest way to get a good thriller e-book is to go with established, international thriller writers, where you pay around a fiver for it, unless you want their latest offering and then the price doubles. Now that's fair enough, no doubt worth it. Except if you read pretty regularly the cost soon mounts up, and you just as soon run out of books.

However, there are a lot of books out there that are free, or only a quid or two. The problem is that they aren't a known quantity to you. Are they good? Will you like them? Well with Chris Ewan, the answer to those weighty matters is a resounding "yes". This is the first of his books that I've read. The story is tight and believable. The characters are well rounded, again, believable and you can identify with them. I was hooked and as a result, the only flaw with the book that I can complain about is that it didn't last long enough for me. I wanted more! But I think I'm just being greedy. Especially at that price. No doubt in the near future Mr. Ewan's books will rise in price commesurate to his popularity in this field of writing. Then I'm back to the beginning....

I haven't said much specifically about the plot. If you want that, it's elsewhere. No spoilers here, just some good advice. Read it and you won't be disappointed. I'd have been happy to buy it at a premium price.
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