Top critical review
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Well researched and workable plot- but very poorly and gratuitously written.
on 16 April 2012
The troubles in Northern Ireland are a subject which proves once again within this novel to be a most difficult subject to write about. Whereas mindless violence and unbelievable cruelty may have been a daily reality, to simply dump it in minute detail into a novel as part of a plot, is crass.
Unlike previous reviewers who have rated this novel poorly I did make it through to the end of the book, but without any sense of enjoyment. By the end of the novel I understood why the author wanted to convey the horrific events detailed, as he needed to show the recipient as being damaged by his experience, but even a slightly more skilled writer would have handled this in a more competent manner. There was simply no need for him to have written it in the way he did. We could have learned about the horror of the injuries later in the book, when the soldier is exposed either at the Christmas party or in front of the LDF or even in front of the hotel mirror.
The author's indulgence also includes a completely non relevant pornographic scene, which is also described in detail but is completely superfluous to the plot and perhaps tells us more about the author than it does the story.
Overall the idea of bringing together a set of characters, changed by their experiences and who eventually have a very public showdown was a good and interesting plotline, but the way we get there is clumsy and Tudor's (a main character) own story is contrived and not really explored.
Overall this novel lacks credibility on so many levels. The characters are shallow and stereotyped, their back story is clumsily written often giving us the same scene from each point of view, causing any momentum built to come screeching to a halt. The timeline is all over the place, the dialogue is stilted and predictable. In fact all of the writing skills required to make this novel work are almost nonexistent.
The only worthy thing about this work, is the fact that it seems to support one of the most worthwhile charities that exists, that is Help for Heroes. To what extent it does this is not clear though.
My recommendation would be make a donation directly and find something else to read.