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VINE VOICEon 19 October 2012
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Old Gold is a crime mystery or thriller which is a genre I enjoy every now and again. When I read crime what I am really looking for is a page turner, something which is exciting and which keeps me gripped. Unfortunately I cant say this book really did that for me, and I found it a bit mediocre and lacklustre.

In the story we follow Eoin Miller in his attempt to get to the bottom of what is going on after he goes home with a woman from a bar who seemed to be in some kind of trouble, and then he wakes up next to her dead body. The premise sounded potentially exciting and the story was okay, but I didn't really feel like I cared too much about the characters as none of them seemed likeable and there were too many random people who sometimes were a bit confusing. The writing seemed a little forced and trying too hard to be gritty. This meant I could never really lose myself in the book as I was always aware of it being "creative writing" due to slightly annoying writing quirks. Characters never just sit down they are constantly "slipping" and "sliding" into seats. This book portrays quite a grim society and it is good at conjuring up a dark atmosphere. Some scenes were not really to my taste such as ones in brothels, strip clubs etc. I'm sure some people will love it, but for me it was too slow for a crime thriller and it was not one which really gripped me. Not completely terrible, but not a great read for me.
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on 22 September 2012
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Old Gold was a quick and fun read, with short chapters and a swiftly changing story.

But it wasn't very memorable, both because the storyline lacked tension, and because I didn't get very interested in the characters.

The lack of tension is hard to explain - there was the odd cliffhanger (although these were very quickly resolved) - the main problem I think was that the main character was a depressed ex-cop, and so about as cynical and battle-hardened as they come. Perhaps in trying to convey this, Stringer removed any real sense of him every being in peril or being scared, and thus for the reader there wasn't much tension.

As for the character development - there was a big cast of characters, but I cared about very few of them - including the protagonist. I frequently found myself having to remind myself who each person was, and so when I found out who eventually was involved in the central murder, I didn't really care as much as I should have done.

The crime thriller is a very packed genre and something has to be special to stand out from the crowd. For me, Old Gold wasn't.
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on 7 April 2013
I have to admit that I was first attracted to this book for two reasons: One) it was based in the Black Country, the midlands of England - an area I know well. And second, it sounded a good read - and I wasn't disappointed. Jay drew me in to the characters and the dark side of Black Country sleaze and crime, and the flawed ex-cop, Eoin Miller, was, in my opinion, an unconventional and troubled man. Having to take drastic action to get rid of a corpse that could have implicated him in her murder was grizzly and shocking, especially the location, which I also know well. His estranged wife, a serving cop, is probably as bad!
There were some attempts to use American spellings of English words: curb and center for example, which I think didn't work as the story is entrenched in the midlands, with appropriate vocabulary for the area; but that didn't spoil the story. I could hear the well-known Dom Da Dom Dom of Dragnet in my head and the voice of Jack Webb telling the story - I mean that as a compliment.
I also felt there was some stretching-out of the tale - it could have been shorter and sharper, and just as enjoyable. Towards the final chapters I was itching to finish and get on with my next read, but compelled to finish, of course. The final confrontation with his adversary was graphic and bloody, but well staged and, frankly, exciting!
Jay did an excellent job of joining up the various strands of the sometimes complicated story, of which there were two separate, but loosely connected cases running through it.
I will buy Jay's new book; Runaway Town as it seems to have some of the same characters so I'm interested in their story.
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on 30 December 2013
A few unexpected twists making this a novel you find impossible to put down. would recommend this book but be prepared as like me you will probably find yourself reading at all hours of night and day wanting to know what happens next.
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on 24 August 2012
I read this on our laptop when I was laid up with flu. I hoped it would take my mind off how awful I felt. But alas it didn't. It's not badly written, but there's a lack of tension that made it a chore to read. The protagonist is an ex police officer who for some reason now works for a bunch of gangsters. This in itself is totally unconvincing - along with the story-line. Not a book I would recommend I'm afraid - especially if you're feeling poorly and want a distraction.
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Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Reading this book, I was reminded of The Bill and Eastenders. The characters aren't developed enough here to ensure that you want to know how the story unfolds. It is set in Wolverhampton, and does have genuine references to areas but it does seem to spend a lot of time describing that those areas are rubbish! Eoin Miller used to be a policeman but lost his way when he found an old man wondering alone in the street one day. The old man dies and Eoin can't cope.

He now works as a 'finder' for the Mann brothers who pretty much run things in the Midlands. There are one or two other sanctions involved but the friction and the meetings just reek of 'The Bill'. As a side story, Miller is looking for the missing son of a Policeman - this storyline had a predictable ending. It was very clear what was going on with the son and the father.

Miller's wife is still high up in the police but who cares?

As we most reads, a form of justice is served at the end and although just deserts are served, this book doesn't quite leave you wanting more.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 1 November 2012
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
You can see the thinking behind it - What detectives have we had? women, old, young, priests, African, Scandinavian, pet... What haven't we had? a gypsy - bingo! However, I found our (part) gypsy detective Eoin Miller a bit boring, he had a similar back story to most other ex-cops and struggled with similar 'issues', plus he didn't even live in a caravan! His 'beat' was Wolverhampton and the West Midlands and I did think that its decaying industrial heritage and seedy back streets were successfully evoked but this just added to the depressing feel of the novel.

I found it hard to empathise with Miller and I didn't particularly like any of the other characters and the plot seemed a bit thin - like the treatment for a hour-long TV drama - although its short chapters kept the pace racing and made it easy to read. I did want to keep reading to find out what happened but at times it was a bit of a grind and you always had the feeling that there wasn't going to be a completely satisfactory resolution.
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on 28 March 2013
This is a gritty drama full of what I imagine to be realistic criminal types. The main character is not an all action hero and takes a fair few beatings as opposed to giving them. However, the book just seems to miss the mark for me, it did not grip me. I am neither sorry nor glad that I read it. No hate or love just indifferent unfortunately.
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on 16 January 2013
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is the kind of book that I would normally choose, but I did so for two reasons.
Firstly it isn't overly long, like too many of the offerings on the bookshelf. Secondly, it is a rare book to be set in the Black Country and I happen to have some settled Romani friends in this area.

I have perhaps been slightly generous with my rating, because I know the places and I am familiar with the types of characters the plot is built around. Stringer does not give full descriptions of people and places, which may be frustrating for some readers. Dialogue is minimal. What you are left with is a very tight plot, that has an abundance of twists and turns.

I must argue with the few critics that think this plot is too unrealistic. There is nothing here that has not already taken place in reality. Other critics will lament the lack of a true hero figure, which is almost saying that the plot is too real for comfort.

This is a dark tragic tale, so if you are hoping for anything uplifting or comic then this won't be for you.

I happen to prefer more humour and a positive ending, but the constant uncertainty and many surprises kept me interested.

The short chapters make the book easy for short breaks and commutes.

Stringer uses plain English, which makes the book more accessible, but removes some local colour.

Old Gold can be read just as an intruiging time filler, but it is also worth seeing it as a challenging piece of social commentary about the dark side of life in Britain's post-industrial wastelands.
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on 2 April 2013
I enjoyed this book and would recommend it to anyone, including those with a liking for detective stories. There are many themes common to most whodunnits, but also a few new twists. A number of interesting characters enliven the tale, especially as it's never clear to start with who's a goody and who's not.

I have to be honest and say that I was some way into this before I realised it was set in the Black Country rather than in America.
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