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: The Stars in the Night by Clare Rhoden

World War 1 fiction

About The Stars in the Night

Harry Fletcher is a confident young man.

Harry’s sure that he will marry Nora MacTiernan, no matter what their families say. He’s certain that he will always be there to protect Eddie, the boy his father saved from the gutters of Port Adelaide.

Only the War to End All Wars might get in the way of Harry’s plans…

From the beaches of Semaphore to the shores of Gallipoli, the mud of Flanders to the red dust of inland South Australia, this is a story of love, brotherhood, and resilience.

My Thoughts

The Stars in the Night opens on a grieving Harry Fletcher missing his wife, Nora. His granddaughter is helping him go through Nora’s things. She discovers a journal, composed in WW1 and she insists on hearing her grandfather’s story.

After a charming portrait of the old man, Harry – heavy of heart, his mind laden with memories – and descriptions of Semaphore, his childhood, his friends and family, the narrative shifts back to the war. First to Gallipoli and then ultimately to Passchendaele, where Harry and his foster brother, Eddie, live out the day-to-day reality of trench warfare.

The Stars in the Night captures all that World War One was at a very human level, focussing on the before, the during and the aftermath of survivors picking up their lives. This is a story of resilience, of tragedy, of coming to terms, and of love and hope. At times unbearably sad, at others triumphant and even a little funny, the novel paints a picture of war that is intimate, showing how events occurring in the trenches impacted on the lives of a small coastal village in Australia.

Rhoden is careful not to portray her protagonist, Harry, in a stereotypical Aussie bloke fashion. The prose has a distinctly Australian flavour, the tone carrying a hint of Aussie vernacular, but that voice is thankfully not over-played. Rhoden has crafted real men with cares and troubles and shame and big hearts.

Plotting, pacing, characterisation are all excellent. The structure – a patchwork of carefully woven scenes interspersed with letters and fragments of Eddie’s diary – works perfectly. The story is well-researched. Scenes in the trenches are graphic enough and horrifying. Rhoden’s prose comes into its own during the battle scenes:

“Now all his senses were stretched alive. The riven darkness slashed his vision, violently radiant with fire, while the air bucked, furrowed by metal. The noise pushed against his ears and the deceitful duckboards beneath him wore a slimy reptilian coat.”

Such visceral prose that abounds throughout to my mind places The Stars in the Night in the canon of novels set in WW1. This is the smoothest, most unpretentious and laid-bare engaging war story I have read in a long time. Rhoden is a master storyteller, displaying insight, restraint and empathy. Rhoden has crafted a gem of a story that I hope becomes a set text in Australian schools. Unputdownable.