BOOK REVIEW FRIDAY – GOING AGAINST TYPE

GoingAgainstTypeLargeGoing Against Type by Sharon Black (click here for Author Wednesday guest post) went toward my type of delightful light-hearted contemporary romance set in Dublin, Ireland. The genre hearkens back to the 1950s with mismatched lovers such as Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy, albeit with Irish eyes and tastes.

Charlotte “Charlie” Regan yearns to find her place in a world dominated by men as a sports’ reporter and columnist. The hero of the story also fights for his place in the world of fashion writing where men are in short supply. It doesn’t help matters that they work for harshly competitive newspapers and somehow find themselves pitted against one another when Charlie steps into the world of fashion by criticizing the footballers of Ireland for advertising popular name brands.

The novel reverberates with authenticity of the life of a journalist always under pressure to be fast, accurate, and edgy. Ms. Black, herself a journalist, paints a realistic picture of both Charlie and Derry despite their opposite views. I liked the twist in the story that turned stereotypes on end. It reminded me a bit of the movie with Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks, You’ve Got Mail. For most of the novel, neither Charlie nor Derry know the other one is the author behind the viperous attacks in the two rival columns written anonymously. In the meantime, they begin dating, enjoying their time together more each time.

If you want to escape for a few hours into the world of Irish football, fashion, and foibles, you won’t be disappointed with Going Against Type. I think it’s the first Irish novel I’ve read that wasn’t historical, which makes it both refreshing and light.

Purchase Links

Going Against TypeAmazon US

Going Against Type – Amazon UK

Going Against Type – Amazon Canda

Grab your copy today

Author Wednesday – David Lawlor

cropped-typewriter.jpgI am pleased to present David Lawlor today for Author Wednesday. David’s visited my blog several times before and I’ve reviewed his Liam Mannion books here, but today he’s stopping by to tell us about his new release, which is a departure from his usual historical fiction set in Ireland in the post World War I era. I’ll let this talented author and editor take if from here to tell you about High Crimes.HIGH CRIMES HIRES(1)

From David: I’ve written four historical fiction novels – three following the adventures of Liam Mannion from World War I, through the Irish War of Independence and on to the Irish Civil War, so stalkers and sex abusers in modern Dublin are not my usual subject matter. Yet that is what I found myself writing about in my new novel, High Crimes.

The seed of an idea came one night while watching a five-minute documentary on television. It was filmed from the perspective of a crane operator, with various operators talking about their work and what they see from their lofty viewing point. One man on the programme told of how, every day, he used to see a woman strip naked and set about cleaning her apartment.

It was such a strange image that I wondered what would compel her to do such a thing – and what the crane operator really thought about it as he watched her. From there, the ball started rolling and soon I had added several more apartment block residents who were living under the watchful gaze of my crane operator, Tommy Reynolds.

Tommy is a seriously disturbed individual. He’s arrogant, conniving, and quite brutal in what he says and how he goes about following his subjects.  He does not self-censor but gives full vent to his feelings. He speaks direct to the reader in a full-on verbal assault. You might wonder what research I did for Tommy – how I tapped into his sociopathic nature. Well, er, aside from reading up on how cranes operate, very little. The fact is that all that venting he does came from inside me (which makes me wonder about myself sometimes, but that’s another story entirely). We all self-censor – that’s the norm in a civilized society – so, to be able to let fly with the most inappropriate and hurtful of comments was liberating. Yes, Tommy is nasty, but he was also great fun to write.

Less fun was my other arch villain – an ex-priest, Cathal Mac Liam, who is a paedophile. Mac Liam is pure evil. In the past, he abused his victims in orphanages, now he uses the internet to find them and to traffic children to be abused by others.

I read several articles, written by both the abused and the abuser, to get a sense of what Mac Liam should be like. That research proved to be truly shocking. A lot of his thoughts are actually taken from real case histories, as was some of the chat-room dialogue I used in the book. My character may seem far-fetched to some but, believe me, real people like him are out there doing terrible things to children.

My stalking victims are varied. There’s Maggie, a policewoman whose childhood was destroyed and whose entire life has been blighted by the memories of her abuse at the hands of Mac Liam. Then there’s Jack, a widowed soldier trying to come to terms with why his wife drowned herself and their infant son. There’s also Paddy, who is struggling to cope with his wife’s dementia and with a disowned drug addict son. Ann, a high-flier in a government department, is building a new life for herself in Dublin following years spent in New York. Finally, there’s Ernie, a talented artist who starts using cranes in his paintings as a motif.

Mac Liam impacts almost all of their lives, while Tommy watches them from his crane, filming and following, and listening, too, until finally he worms his way into their lives with deadly consequences.

Reynolds and Mac Liam are vile. We marvel at their cruelty and feel sympathy for their victims. Unfortunately, sometimes those victims are pushed beyond all endurance and see suicide as the only recourse.  I thought it would be good to see the victims finally stand up and fight back, which is what happens in this book.

The tone of High Crimes is very different to that of my historical fiction trilogy – Tan, The Golden Grave and A Time of Traitors. Finding that new voice was exciting as was writing a story set in the modern world. That doesn’t mean I’m done with the past. I have a soft spot for Liam Mannion, the hero of my trilogy, and he’ll be reappearing in a new book further down the line.

The beauty of fiction is that we can immerse ourselves in any world we choose – that goes for the author as much as the reader. It’s why I’m hooked on writing and why I’ll keep doing it as long as my body and my mind allow.

I’m glad that you are going to keep putting out suspenseful and powerful novels. 

About David:David Lawlor David Lawlor has worked as a journalist for the past twenty-five years and is currently Associate Editor with The Herald newspaper in Dublin. He’s also a book editor. [Note: David was my editor for Native Lands.] To date, he’s published three novels in the Liam Mannion series – Tan, The Golden Grave and A Time of Traitors, which are historical fiction thrillers set during the Irish War of Independence, in 1921. His first a contemporary novel is High Crimes.

Other Author Wednesday posts about David Lawlor:

November 12, 2014

July 7, 2013

Book reviews of David Lawlor’s Liam Mannion novels:

A Time of Traitors and Tan and The Golden Grave

 

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THE GOLDEN GRAVE

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Website: https://historywithatwist.wordpress.com/

Twitter: @LawlorDavid

Goodreads: http://goo.gl/rocWgb

Amazon

High Crimes 

Tan 

The Golden Grave 

A Time of Traitors 

Smashwords

Book Review Friday – David Lawlor’s “Liam Mannion” series

An author faces a monumental task when writing historical fiction. If one historical fact is wrong or an anachronism appears, the reader is likely to put aside the book in favor of one that achieves historical accuracy tempered with believable dialogue, heightened tension, and sympathetic, yet flawed, heroes.

If you are a reader of historical fiction who requires accuracy, suspense, and flawed, yet heroic main characters, then I suggest you go directly to Amazon and buy Tan or The Golden Grave or both by David Lawlor.

RESIZED TANI read Tan first because it is the first in the “Liam Mannion” series of suspenseful and historical novels written by Lawlor. I interviewed him on Author Wednesday a few months back and was intrigued to learn this journalist writes while commuting to his job an hour each way. This process works to create suspenseful fiction with colorful and unforgettable characters.

Set in England and then Ireland in the year after the end of World War I, Tan explores the war of a closer nature immediately following Liam Mannion’s release from the English Army in 1919. Here’s a guy forced to leave Ireland at a young age because of an act he witnessed after a night of drinking at a friend’s wedding. It’s here where the conflict of the story begins when the evil Webber blames and accuses the young Liam of an indecent act against a virtuous married woman. Webber’s fiction that forces Liam into exile begins a whole series of events that mark Liam for life.

Liam heads to England in 1914 and ends up in the English army fighting in France during the majority of World War I.

When Liam eventually heads back to England after the horrid and putrid rot of dead bodies that made up his memory of the war, he ends up in an insufferable situation, which leads him to homelessness, and then worse, as an officer of the crown as a member of the powerful and often repressive Black and Tan. Liam turns a blind eye to the atrocious behavior of his English comrades, only until it becomes evident that his loyalty to the Black and Tan extracts too high of a rent for clean clothes and warm bowl of soup.

Lawlor captures the uncertainty of the times through the examination of Liam’s uncertain future as he’s thrust into situations beyond his control. Precise and graphic descriptions of life in England and Ireland post-World War I show that despite the end of a tragic war on the mainland of Europe, Ireland faced an even greater war at home with the invasion and intrusion of the Tans.

I fell in love with Lawlor’s descriptions of the setting in Tan as I lost myself in the world of the Irish fighting for their lives and their homeland. Here’s an example of Lawlor’s powerful descriptive talent:

“They leaned against the viaduct’s promenade rail, looking out on their hometown, watching the slow huff of a steam engine as it trundled into the station, the smell of the sea mingling with the coke from Cumisky’s coal yard beneath them.”

Lawlor peppers the novel with descriptions filled with contrasting details that employ the senses to show the reader that the situation and the setting are both beautiful and polluted.

Tan is both tender and violent as the reader is drawn into the abyss of angry revenge and the love and loyalty of friends and family. It also shows that being born into a family does not guarantee such loyalty. The character of the individual breeds the kind of loyalty that would take a bullet and shoot a bullet to protect and exact revenge.

I highly recommend Tan if you like immersing your senses in the past of one hundred years ago on English and Irish soils bloodied from wars and stained with tears.

THE GOLDEN GRAVEI also recommend reading Tan before delving into Lawlor’s second “Liam Mannion” novel, The Golden Grave. Liam is once again in exile in England in 1920 when he runs into a war buddy from the trenches in France. The novel’s conflict is set almost immediately as a group of World War I veterans enter into a dangerous project that involves digging into the battlefield grounds of France to find the pot of gold.

The love and lust affair between Liam and Sabine offers some sexual tension, but also provides a buffer between the tedious task of unearthing the treasure and the trauma all the former soldiers feel upon returning to the arena of so many deaths—some of which they caused.

If the story verges toward romanticism, Lawlor skillfully and abruptly changes the tone with flashes of jealousy and flashbacks of war. He uses contrasts to create vivid sketches of the setting as he does in this scene when the veterans make it back to the small village in Flanders that became their touchstone during the worst days of the war:

“The road ran like a scar across Flanders’ ruined landscape. Amongst the straggling wild flowers and sparse grass patches, the animals watched beneath a noon-day sun that shone bright and pristine. A black rat paused in its scavenging; its head tilted high, the whiskers twitching expectantly as it listened to the soft shuffle of booted feet.”

Liam Mannion is impacted by the war, yet in him Lawlor has created a sympathetic and very human main character. He loves, yet he’s afraid of rejection so he holds back. He’s loyal, yet his temptations lead him to places that test his loyalty. He doesn’t always win those personal battles, but he manages to find his way back to remind us all it’s never too late to find redemption.

The Golden Grave is more graphic and more violent than Tan. The horror of war and its impact on individuals plays a role in the plot, but perhaps the quest for gold to quench an unquenchable greed drives the conflict and extracts tolls far more costly than war. It also points to human failings of the worst kind.

Lawlor’s talent is evident in the fast-paced and moving story of war, greed, and passion found within the pages of The Golden Grave. I’m not one for war stories in general, but The Golden Grave is so suspenseful and action-packed and filled with historical importance that I enjoyed every minute reading this book.

Note to Mr. Lawlor:  I hope there’s a third “Liam Mannion” novel in the works.

Purchase Links:

The Golden Grave: http://goo.gl/qMCTa