Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Book Review: Dark Water by Simon Thould

Dark Water
by Simon Thould
Ebook & Paperback
Release Date: Aug 3 2017
Thistle Publishing
4 Stars


A girl goes missing – but has she been lost, or taken? Her frantic mother begs for help from the one man with the ruthless skills to track her down. Alex Rafter, former sniper, sees Madeleine Finch as a bad, erratic mother, and is reluctant to go back to a life he is trying to forget. But his own nightmares compel him to search, for the girl's sake.

Rafter embarks on a murderous hunt, aided by Gabriel Montero, another former soldier, that leads through the wilds of the New Forest to the squalid back streets of Southampton. Rebecca Grant, local veterinary, drug addict and would-be lover, offers help, but her own agenda threatens to send Rafter astray. It becomes a race against time to find the girl before she is lost forever to the heartless world of people traffickers.

Review: 4 Stars

Ex-soldier and sniper, Alex Rafter, has been left the house, Dark Water, in his estranged uncle's will. He's lived on the edge of the New Forest for months now, but he is still treated as a stranger. But the locals seem to know a lot about him anyway from gossip and hearsay.

Local woman, Madeline Finch, shows up at his door, distraught that her daughter, Jac has gone missing. She's unwilling to go to the police, for Jac Finch has been known to run away and turn up again a few days later none the worse for wear. But this time Madeline insists it's different and that Rafter use his army skills to track her down. Rafter suspects Madeline knows more than she is letting on but she refuses to talk.

With unlikely allies of soldier turned landlord, Gabriel, vet and neighbour Rebecca and the local Hell's Angel chapter, Rafter just hopes they're in time. But they aren't the only ones looking. The police have been watching the suspects for months and Jac may be in even more danger than they thought.

Can Rafter find her before it's too late?

The book takes us on a journey from the New Forest to casinos and seedy backstreets of Southampton. It's well written and keeps the attention, I finished it in two days as I was keen to know what had happened to Jac and if they could save her in time.

There are a few formatting issues with commas being in the wrong place or missing quotation marks, but nothing that detracts too much from the story. There were also a few Americanisms which slipped in, such as 'Kitty-Corner' - I've never heard a UK person use that term in my life. I've just seen the author's bio and he has lived in the US for part of his life, so that makes more sense now. It distracted me a bit from the story, but only because I'd never heard the term before and had to look it up.

I found it a little odd that even though we get the entire book from Rafter's point of view, we don't really get to know him. He has nightmares, but we don't know what they are about. He talks to people but doesn't really reveal any of himself, not to them or the reader. If it hadn't been for how he rescued Lonely, a dog who'd been abused by his previous owner, one might think he was cold. But he isn't, not really and it shows when he is with Lonely. I think calling the dog that had more to do with Rafter himself than the dog.

People trafficking is a difficult subject to tackle, but the author has written it with compassion, sensitivity and skill, and not for shock value.

It's not as fast-paced as some other thrillers I have read, but it isn't slow either. A steady pace with well-drawn characters and a plot to keep you turning the pages long into the night.

I'm not sure enjoyable would be the right word, considering the subject matter, but it is certainly a compelling read and holds your interest right to the last page.


About the Author:

Simon Thould was born in Somerset, where he went to public school and played rugby and cricket with more enthusiasm than he studied. He later managed to qualify as a chartered surveyor and practised for twenty years in both public and private sectors in London and the south of England. He also worked as a restaurant and bar manager before moving with two black cats to a farmhouse in the mountains Andalucia for a year and a half. There he wrote his first novel.

He moved back to the UK and worked as a resident housekeeper and groom in Kent and wrote his second novel.

Then he relocated to the USA for several years and worked in warehouse stock control, sold insurance and then art work from a gallery in Downtown Charleston, South Carolina. Returning to the UK again, he worked as a postman and in several retail sales positions and wrote a third novel.

His passions, other than writing, are reading 'hard-boiled, noir' novels, watching classic movies and betting on National Hunt horse racing. He has been married and divorced twice and has one daughter.

He currently lives on the island of Gozo in the Mediterranean where he wrote Dark Water.

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