Blackthorn Book Tours: Death of a Young Lieutenant by B R Stateham

About Death of a Young Lieutenant

Meet Captain Jake Reynolds – pilot, adventurer, art thief, spy.

In the opening weeks of World War One, and as a member of the newly formed British Royal Flying Corps, Captain Jake Reynolds is shipped off to Belgium.

Roped in by his squadron commander to prove the innocence of a young lieutenant accused of murder, Jake also wants to steal a 14th Century Jan van Eck painting.

The problem is both the evidence and the painting are behind enemy lines.

How do you prove a man’s innocence and steal a masterpiece while an entire German army is breathing down your neck?

My Thoughts

Stateham has penned an intriguing and well-conceived story told mostly through the eyes of daring art thief and forger Captain Jake Reynolds, who is charged with finding out who murdered Sergeant Grimms. Young Lieutenant Oglethorpe, also deceased, is in the frame. Only Colonel Wingate is not so sure he’s guilty. Reynolds heads off to investigate, a task that means he must sneak behind enemy lines. While there, he plots another art theft. 

There is much to love in this novel. I enjoyed Stateham’s punchy, rhythmic narrative style. Stateham has taken his literary chisel to his daring protagonist Jake Reynolds and sculpted a complex larrikin of a character that can charm his way out of the tightest of spots. The mystery elements combine in intricate ways that make for an engaging and entertaining read. And there is plenty of action to kick things along to a satisfying conclusion.

When it comes to stories based in history, anachronisms can easily slip in. World War One in 1914 was known as the Great War. But Stateham writes for a contemporary audience and perhaps made his choice accordingly. Death of a Young Lieutenant to my mind would not be classed historical fiction, the genre where such things matter, heaps, with historians quick to demolish a novel for getting a small point wrong. And yet the novel is packed with historical details and the author has clearly researched his subject, especially regarding the history of aviation. I appreciated the realism of the backdrop.

In all Death of a Young Lieutenant will please murder mystery fans who love to be taken on a journey to another time and place, to find themselves in amongst all the action. Recommended.

 

About B.R. Stateham

B.R. Stateham is a fourteen-year-old boy trapped in a seventy-year-old body.  But his enthusiasm and boyish delight in anything mysterious and/or unknown continue.

Writing novels, especially detectives, is just the avenue of escape which keeps the author’s mind sharp and inquisitive.  He’s published a ton of short stories in online magazines like Crooked, Darkest Before the Dawn, Abandoned Towers, Pulp Metal Magazine, Suspense Magazine, Spinetingler Magazine, Near to The Knuckle, A Twist of Noir, Angie’s Diary, Power Burn Flash, and Eastern Standard Crime.  He writes both detective/mysteries, as well as science-fiction and fantasy.

In 2008 the first book in the series featuring homicide detectives Turner Hahn and Frank Morales came out, called Murderous Passions.

Also, in 2008 he self-published a fantasy novel entitled, Roland of the High Crags: Evil Arises.

In 2009 he created a character named Smitty.  So far twenty-eight short stories and two novellas have been written about this dark eyed, unusually complex hit man.

In 2012 Untreed Reads published book two of the Turner Hahn/Frank Morales series A Taste of Old Revenge.

In 2015 NumberThirteen Press published a Smitty novella entitled, A Killing Kiss.

In 2017 a British indie publisher, Endeavour Media, re-issued A Taste of Old Revenge, and soon followed by a second Turner Hahn/Frank Morales novel entitled, There Are No Innocents.

In 2018 Endeavour Media published a third novel of mine, the first in a 1st Century Roman detective series, entitled While the Emperor Slept.

Also in 2018, NumberThirteen Press merged with another famous British indie, Fahrenheit Press. Soon afterwards, Fahrenheit Press re-issued an old novel of mine entitled, Death of a Young Lieutenant.

Now, after all of this apparent success, you would think Fame and Fortune would have sailed into my harbor, making me the delight of the hard-core genre world. Ah but contraire, mon ami! Fame and Fortune are two devious little wraths who pick and chooses the poor souls they wish to bedevil. I remain in complete anonymity and am just as bereft of fortune as I have always been. And apparently will continue to be for a long time to come.

B.R. Stateham has a blog called, In the Dark Mind of B.R. Stateham – http://noirtaketurner-frank.blogspot.com/

https://www.amazon.com/Death-Young-Lieutenant-Jake-Reynolds-ebook/dp/B07TBFFMFT/ref=sr_1_1?crid=3E0AXA4WW0B27&keywords=death+of+a+young+lieutenant+br+stateham&qid=1577942808&sprefix=death+of+a+young+li%2Caps%2C406&sr=8-1

 

Isobel Blackthorn is an award-winning author of unique and engaging fiction. She writes gripping mysteries, dark psychological thrillers and historical fiction. She is the author of The Unlikely Occultist: a biographical novel of Alice A. Bailey.

Book Review: A Greater God by Brian Stoddart

Brian Stoddart

About A Greater God (Superintendent Le Fanu Mysteries Book 4)

Muslims are being murdered and communal tensions escalating
as Superintendent Chris Le Fanu returns, reluctantly, to 1920s
Madras from the Straits Settlements. He comes under fire, literally
and figuratively, as more Muslims and policemen are killed by
revolutionaries in clashes fomented by his boss, Inspector-General
Arthur ‘The Jockey’ Jepson.

As the riots spread, Le Fanu’s trusted assistants – Mohammad
Habibullah and Jackson Caldicott – disagree on both the origins
and the handling of this new crisis. Le Fanu becomes further
isolated as his only government allies, the Governor and the Chief
Secretary, are being transferred away from Madras.

Even more pressure bears in on him when former housekeeper
and lover, Ro McPhedren, falls critically ill in Hyderabad, and
Jenlin Koh, his new love, is listed among those aboard a ship
missing en route to India.

Le Fanu’s entire professional and personal future is at risk as
he confronts these challenges while Britain’s grip on India wavers.

My Thoughts

I am new to this series; entering Book 4 might have left me floundering but I was pleasantly surprised to find myself immersed in the world of Le Fanu and India of the early 20th century and brought deftly up to speed. Catch ups are kept brief and to a minimum, just enough to make the reader want to read Books 1-3.

 A Greater God is set primarily in Madras, a colourful, heaving, vibrant and exotic city –  in many ways another character in the book. The story focussed on a time of considerable political unrest in India with racial tensions mounting between Hindus and Muslims alongside a pervasive resentment towards the British Raj. Stoddart clearly knows his subjectthe historical detail peppered throughout the novel demonstrating considerable insight.

The author weaves vivid descriptions of setting and  the complexities of the historical backdrop into the narrative, binding a sense of place and the theme of cultural unrest cleverly with the plot. The result makes for a gripping read. Stoddart’s pacing is excellent and there are some satisfying twists along the way. The narrative moves along at quite a clip and never labours despite the historical content. This is quite an achievement and is a credit to the author. The dialogue flows well, too, and I especially enjoyed the witty banter.

Stoddart’s characters are well-crafted and he has a sharp eye for cultural sensitivity. The protagonist, Le Fanu, is well-rounded, likeable and suitably conflicted. He has some major decisions to make while he fends off antagonisms from various quarters. Prejudice is portrayed through the despicable inspector, Jensen, and the Muslim perspective is provided in a personal way through Le Fanu’s colleague, Habi, and his growing concern for his community.

A Greater God will appeal to those who enjoy great historical crime mysteries that are both well-written and intelligent.

 

 

Book review: Grasping at Water by Carmel Bendon

I do enjoy reading novels with strong mystical content. Especially when, as is the case with Grasping at Water, the author has profound knowledge of her subject.

About Grasping at Water

When a young, unidentified woman is pulled alive and well from Sydney Harbour in 2013, the connections to another woman – found in similar circumstances forty years earlier – present psychiatrist Kathryn Brookley with a terrible decision as the events of the present and past begin to mirror each other and the gap between truth and illusion shrinks.

When the young woman goes further and declares that she has lived continuously since coming to ‘understanding’ in the 14th century, her vivid accounts of life, love, childbirth, and loss in the Middle Ages seem so authentic that they test Kathryn’s scientific objectivity to the limit. As Kathryn delves she discovers that she is not the only one whose habitual assumptions about life have been torn asunder by an apparent experience of the miraculous in connection with the mystery woman.

My thoughts

Grasping at Water is an unusual book, possibly one of its kind. Told in the form of a mystery, what unfolds is so much more, as Kathryn, a traditional psychiatrist with all of the typical objectivist trappings of her job, is called in to assess a mysterious woman dragged out of Sydney Harbour. What unfolds will intrigue and fascinate the receptive reader.

The mystical theme is present early in the narrative through this mysterious un-drowned woman who eventually names herself Sophia (wisdom). The tales she tells at first mystify and puzzle, then reveal, slowly, fragment by fragment profound truths. Kathryn is at first reluctant and disbelieving, but her own prejudices are soon tested and she finds herself questioning her own rational understanding of the world. She notices coincidences, particularly of dates, the usual point of entry into the world of the unknown. From there Kathryn finds herself introduced to the anchoresses of medieval Europe immured in the walls of churches, and she is exposed to a feast of extraordinary knowledge as she grapples with her own life story.

Bendon deploys good pacing and plotting throughout, with believable and well-crafted characters. The protagonist, Kathryn, and the mystery woman, Sophia, are especially well-rounded. The style of prose is for the most part chatty and informative and easy to read. It is difficult to insert the theme of mysticism into the genre of a mystery and I commend the author for doing so.

The novel’s strength lies in the narrative control in the scenes exploring mysticism. The strange, mystical world Bendon portrays is utterly convincing, placing the reader right in amongst things. The insights into spirituality and mysticism contained in Grasping at Water are profound and important. Where else is the average reader to be presented with an engaging understanding of Julian of Norwich and anchoresses like her? I am reminded of L.J.M. Owen’s Dr Pimms’ series, in which the author draws on her extensive knowledge of archeology.

Grasping at Water is a story of loss, grief and acceptance, on one level a feel-good mystery to warm the heart. On a mystical level, here is a story of a rite of passage, one that will leave the reader questioning their everyday reality. A fascinating read.