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on 29 March 2011
It really is difficult to believe that this is Layton Green's first foray into the world of thriller writing. In Layton, we have an amazing new talent, together with a strong and instantly established new character, in Dominic Grey.

I should say straight away, that this is not a book for the faint-hearted, or those of you with a weak stomach.

I suspect there has been great thought about Dominic and his path for future adventures, before Layton has taken pen to paper, with the result being a character that has great depth and strength of character, right from the opening page.

We get to know about Dominic's own troubled past almost immediately, which straightaway forms a bond between him and the reader. From his violent and abusive childhood; his struggle to strengthen himself in mind and body, so that `The Sins Of The Father Shall Not Be Visited Upon The Son'; and his continuous, ongoing battle to maintain that equilibrium and balance in his life. His ethos and beliefs are that he can control his demons and use their power to help people, he operates only on facts and keeps a clear set of morals.

All these emotions and reactions are layed bare by Layton, so that the reader can almost get inside Dominic's mind, as he plots his next move.

Layton seems to have built a central core of two other characters, during the course of this story, who I think Dominic will ultimately take with him, on his future adventures:

Nya is the perfect foil for Dominic's fragile volatility. Calm and dispassionate in her work, whilst all too aware of the plight of many of her fellow Zimbabweans. She is trying desperately to hold on to her strong Christian faith, instilled in her by her father, but is constantly being tested as to it's validity and worth.

Victor is still, even at the end of the book, quite a strong, complex character who hasn't yet been fully exposed as a recognisable force in his own right, although as Dominic's new employer, his personality should begin to unfold with time.

Layton has managed to strike a good balance between being informative about a country, with it's obvious inherent political and social problems, without bombarding the reader with a `Party Political Broadcast' about the situation.

Through his fantastic use of the English Language, he eloquently portrays vivid images of the beauty of this troubled country; its sights, sounds and smells coming alive in their descriptions. You can almost `feel the landscape'.

The macabre, graphic and often troubling plot, evoked some very disturbing thoughts and managed to convey the palpable and obvious fear, suspicion, hatred and superstition, which is all too evident in modern Zimbabwean society.

The way that a people, in such obvious turmoil and looking for something tangible to cling on to, can be whipped up into a frenzy of `religious' fervour, is expertly crafted into the plot by Layton, making the book a true experience of human vulnerability.

The plot had many twists and turns along the way and several times I felt that I had cracked the secret of N'anga, only to be thwarted as the next chapter unfolded. In the end, the secret identity was a complete surprise and was a well thought out storyline, that few would have guessed at.

Some reviews have pronounced this book to be too `wordy' and have slated Layton for using words whose meanings have to be looked up. Whilst the latter comment may have been the case for me a couple of times, it only made me think about the writing more and concentrate on the content more intently. It is good to see the English Language being used to its full potential, without the slang and text speak, which has invaded our communication chain recently!! It was great to have actually needed to READ a book.

Layton Green is definitely a new force to be reckoned with in the genre of thriller writing, an author of the highest calibre.

The fact that this book was read and reviewed by myself, at the request of the author, did not influence my rating or comments in any way. In case you haven't worked it out yet ... I Love This Book !!!!

Bring on more Dominic Grey as soon as possible please !!
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on 10 March 2011
When a US Diplomat disappears during a religious ceremony in the Zimbabwean bush there are hundreds of witnesses but no one willing to help the investigation. Dominic Grey works as a diplomatic security expert and is asked to investigate with the assistance of phenomenologist and cult expert Professor Viktor Radek. Being in Zimbabwe they are only to investigate under the supervision of a Government liaison, Nya Mashumba. As Grey and Nya , guided by Viktor's expertise, find increasingly disturbing evidence of a cult at work they also become targets.

In the past I have read odd articles and pieces about voodoo and juju, as well as other minor religions and cults but nothing as in depth as this. The details of the rituals were graphic in places, not recommended if you get a bit queasy about gore, but I also found the academic perspective of how cults work, provided by Radek interesting.

Grey is a complicated character with a difficult past, but I found him likeable and not lacking in depth. Nya is a little more mysterious and provided a good foil for him. The book is predominantly written from his viewpoint but also from that of other characters in places, allowing a greater insight into each of them.

The story does cover some of the issues faced in modern Zimbabwe, and provides some interesting description of a country I only know a little about from the news, but it doesn't labour details of the political situation. I felt I got a better feel for the place than I had before, without lots of unnecessary information that didn't really progress the plot, it struck a good balance.

I found the book well paced and interesting, but my minor complaint would be some of the language used by the author. In places it was quite archaic and obscure, and I found myself using the dictionary far more than usual. Where the words related to specialised areas of study I didn't have a problem but elsewhere there seemed to be a lot of words used for effect rather than for the benefit of the reader.

Overall though this was a really good read and I'll be interested to see where future installments take Grey.
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on 27 February 2011
"The Sommoner" is the first in a series-to-be featuring Dominic Grey. A troubled childhood and a series of jobs including short stints in the military, the CIA, and now Diplomatic Security have given Grey a unique set of skills. His life experience has given him a distinctive outlook on life that is the opposite of what might be expected. He operates based on facts and his moral compass, the last of these being the cause of his history of short job tenure. Yet for someone so morally grounded Grey's attitude toward religion is skeptical, at best. Not only does faith in a deity conflict with Grey's preference for facts, but also his childhood experiences turned him against religion. Grey is a unique character. I'm looking forward to the next book in the series.

The setting of Zimbabwe gives this book a different feel as we learn about the country - its culture, politics, and religion. The story keeps you in suspense as Grey attempts to sort out who his allies are and find what happened to the former diplomat whose disappearance he's investigating. It delivers on the suspense and thrills through every plot twist.

Author Green also has a writing style I found engaging and for the most part polished beyond what I would expect from a first novel. However, there is one exception. Green has a tendency to overuse obscure, archaic, or "hundred dollar" words. In some instances, these are spouted by an academic and may be justified for characterization reasons. However, they are often not justified, seemingly used because he can rather than because it's needed. Regardless of how well developed your vocabulary, you'll find at least a handful of occasions to be thankful for your ereader's built-in dictionary.

**Originally written for "Books and Pals" book blog.**
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on 26 December 2010
I moved a little outside my comfort zone with The Summoner, and I am glad I did. A blend of action, history, anthropology, thrills, and chills, all delivered with a mature, polished voice. I am eager for more from this author.
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on 23 January 2011
This is a well-written thriller/mystery/crime story with a believable touch of supernatural. The atmosphere of Zimbabwe is convincingly portrayed without labouring the political arguments. The characters are well drawn and I found myself wanting to know more about their back stories. The ending leaves plenty of scope for further novels based on these characters and in the possibility of using different geographical settings and cultures. I am looking forward to reading more by this author.The Summoner (The Dominic Grey Novels, No.1)
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on 7 December 2011
I found this book compelling to read despite the chilling and almost horrific scenes of black magic torture that made me "look away" from the page in parts. I love to be educated at the same time as entertained and this book delivered with its interesting background on 'juju' and Zimbabwe culture. There is a fast-paced plot and a new hero in Dominic Grey with his expertise in Japanese fighting martial arts. I like that he's not reliant on guns and doesn't seem to be a gorgeous chiseled-jaw hero. Nya is a strong woman and although I don't generally like to see women rescued all the time, she has enough strength to be a worthwhile character and a match for Grey in many aspects. I read this after The Egyptian and enjoyed this more. Green has managed to make an excellent series character and I'll be watching out for his books.
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on 8 March 2011
Wow! The Summoner is a chilling thriller - full of suspense, intrigue, and action. Eloquent descriptions and vivid images give you the feeling you're actually in Zimbabwe. You can taste and smell the country clearly. The writing was engaging from the first page.

I'm interested in Voodoo and the African version of Juju, which is the main premise for this novel, so I found it enthralling and couldn't put it down. If you're looking for a gripping read, you should definitely check this one out. I can't wait to read the next one!
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on 4 April 2014
This is the first Layton Green book I've read and, wow, it's unbelievable. We meet the stoic Dominic Grey, Diplomatic Security with the US Embassy in Harare, Zimbabwe. The beautiful Nya working for the Zimbabwean Ministry of Foreign Affairs is teamed with Grey to find a retired head of Consular services of the US Embassy in Harare who disappeared after attending an Yorubo ceremony. The services of Prof. Viktor Radek, a professor of religious phenomonology is sought and together, these three main characters dive into the dark and deadly underbelly of ancient Nigerian witchcraft known as Juju. This book is action packed and littered with graphically detailed ritualistic torture scenes that makes you wish you could "unread" certain parts of the book. It gives a descriptive view of alternative religious beliefs that the average man would consider parlour tricks or voodoo. Green has definitely set the bar with this one and I'm looking forward to the next book in the series, The Egyptian.
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on 15 April 2016
I had never heard of this author but the story intrigued me and felt I should expand on new authors and am glad I did! So much so that I can't wait to read the next one! The main character referred to as Grey throughout is a complex character but has compassion in abundance. The setting itself in Zimbabwe is wonderful, as for the plot that is something else. This story packs a punch or two and will leave you wondering about the beliefs and religious cults and if they do indeed still exist. The story itself is about the disappearance of an American diplomat and how and why he disappeared. I don't like to give anything away but this is what I would describe as a thumping good read and defy anyone not to read it! An author to look out for who deals with murder, mayhem and all other paraphernalia! Enjoy!!
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on 12 May 2015
I have been an avid reader of fiction for many years. This book has proved to be an excellent story, so much so I could not put it down. I look forward to the other books in the Dominic Grey Series.
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