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Sunday, 23 January 2022

‘Recursion’ by David J. Harrison

Published by The Book Guild,
28 October 2021.
ISBN: 978-1-91391348-9 (PB)

Haruka a renowned artist is struggling to carry on with his painting after his wife Jane left him at the beginning of the year.  His agent recommends he has a holiday in a little cottage he knows in the Lake District. However, when Haruka arrives, something very strange is going on. A man the villagers call the Captain seems to run their lives, he appears to be some kind of cult priest.

Three months later, Jane receives a call from Haruka’s agent to say he needs some of his paintings for an exhibition. He is having trouble getting hold of him and asks her for spare keys to their house to retrieve his artwork. Rather concerned about his long absence without anyone hearing from him, Jane decides to travel to the Lake District to see him.

When she arrives and asks why he hasn’t contacted her in three months, he looks puzzled and says he has only just arrived by taxi. Jane is very confused, wants to leave but her car has broken down and there is no reception for mobiles in the village. Haruka takes her to the Captain – he is the nearest one with a landline.  This is the time their problems begin, nothing will ever be the same again.

The Captain is a very charismatic character but has an underlying creepiness, he even emits a feeling of evil. Jane contacts the L.S.O. which she conducts for only to be asked why she has disappeared for three months. Her job has been given to someone else. She really is totally confused now.

Things go from bad to worse, time is really distorted and there is an air of evil at every turn. They just don’t know who to trust, everyone acts so strangely. Why have the villagers dug several troughs each six feet deep on the side of the hill?  What is the purpose of the disturbing white room in the Captain’s house that has a translucent mass slithering down the wall?  Who is the mysterious Frank who runs the local post office?

Haruka and Jane struggle to keep their sanity as they try to make out what is going on and all the while things keep occurring and reoccurring.

Will they survive in one piece? Escape seems impossible.

Goodness when I first started reading this book, I didn’t think it was for me, but the more I read the more I became really intrigued and ended up enjoying it. I can see readers of science fiction loving its “weirdness” and thoroughly recommend it, especially for them.

Reviewer: Tricia Chappell

David J Harrison only realised that Lord of the Rings had been read out to him as a sleeping child when as a teenager he sought an explanation for its familiarity. On a more conscious level, he was brought up on a diet of classic science fiction and fantasy, most notably the stories of Robert E Howard, Lin Carter and L. Sprague de Camp. Little wonder that he chose psychology as his degree subject. He works in biotechnology, specialising in medical devices and is excited to have contributed towards several important new medicines. He lives in Cambridge with his wife and children who he stops reading to when they fall asleep.


Tricia Chappell. I have a great love of books and reading, especially crime and thrillers. I play the occasional game of golf (when I am not reading). My great love is cruising especially to far flung places, when there are long days at sea for plenty more reading! I am really enjoying reviewing books and have found lots of great new authors.

‘Ice’ by Linda Howard

 Published by Piatkus,
19 November 2009.
ISBN: 978-0-349-40012-9

 Gabriel McQueen arrives home to Wilson Creek, Maine, for the Christmas holidays.  Thrilled to see his seven- year-old son Sam, who lives with his parents, he barely has time to say hi before his father Sheriff Harlan McQueen send him out to pick up Lolly Helton, and bring her into town ahead of the impending ice storm. Gabriel and Lolly have history - well only school stuff, but they sure didn’t get on as kids.  He wonders if she will have changed much in fifteen years, or if she will still have the malicious tongue she always had. Probably the latter, he muses gloomily. But he reckons an hour tops to get out to her place and bring her into town.  Then he can spend time with Sam.

But nothing goes to plan, and he finds himself trapped by the storm, and some unsavoury characters.

This is a survival story with unbelievable suspense. I read it in one sitting, captivated by the atmospheric surrounding, and how they would fare.  But overall, it is a romance. Oh! and I was not only captivated by the atmosphere but also with Gabriel McQueen.

Reviewer: Lizzie Hayes

Linda S. Howington born in 1950 is an American best-selling romance/suspense author under her pseudonym Linda Howard. Before she became a writer, she was an avid reader and fond of Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell. After 21 years of penning stories for her own enjoyment, she submitted a novel for publication which was very successful. She currently lives in Gadsden, Alabama with her husband, Gary F. Howington

Saturday, 22 January 2022

‘The Man On Hackpen Hill’ by JS Monroe

Published by Head of Zeus Ltd,
2 September 2021.
ISBN: 978-1-78954172-4 (HB)

Bella, a recent Oxford graduate, is desperate to become a journalist. On work experience with a national paper, she receives a letter suggesting there is ‘seriously interesting stuff’ to be overheard in a village pub in Wiltshire. In the pub she meets Jim, a brilliant young scientist who works at Porton Down - the high security government research lab for chemical warfare agents.

Near the pub, a crop circle has appeared. It is the first of three. Each of the circles has a body placed in the centre of a highly complicated, geometric pattern that appears to be coding for something.  In the first two circles the bodies are dead. The victim in the third circle is killed in hospital. Each of the bodies seems to be sending a signal: the first has been lobotomized; the second is in a straitjacket; and the third was in a zombie state, pumped full of deadly toxin.

DI Silas Hart from Swindon police is put in charge of the investigation. He is assisted by DC Strover, a switched-on young woman who more than makes up for DI Hart’s lack of scientific and technical knowledge. Unfortunately, their investigations are slowed because their boss is not keen on them annoying the authorities at Porton Down by asking awkward questions. Despite being distracted when his son is admitted to a secure facility for the mentally ill and whilst he’s also trying to keep his marriage from floundering, Hart, helped by Strover and various experts in chemistry and mathematics, make good progress with the investigation.

Jim and Bella are attracted to each other. But, no sooner has Jim revealed he has a story for Bella that links the bodies in the crop circles to noxious chemicals stored at Porton, than the two of them become tracked by menacing minders in powerful black range rovers. In Oxfordshire, London, Wiltshire, and in Swanage and Studland Bay in Dorset the creepy cars keep looming out of nowhere with occupants who don’t hesitate to threaten Jim and Bella.

The Man on Hackpen Hill is a highly original, well-researched, thought-provoking, sometimes frightening, but very poignant story. The characters, particularly Bella and Jim, who are sensitively and charmingly portrayed, draw you into a book that is full of surprises from beginning to end.

Reviewer Angela Crowther.

J.S. Monroe After reading English at Cambridge University, he worked as a freelance journalist in London, writing features for most of Britain's national newspapers, as well as contributing regularly to BBC Radio 4. He was also chosen for Carlton TV's acclaimed screenwriters course. Between 1998 and 2000, he was Delhi correspondent for the Daily Telegraph, and he also wrote the Last Word column in The Week Magazine (India) from 1995, when he lived in Cochin, South India, to 2012. His first novel, The Riot Act ,was  published by Serpent's Tail. Dead Spy Runnin', his third novel and the first in the Daniel Marchant (or 'Legoland') trilogy, was published by HarperCollins and has been translated into five languages. Jon lives in Wiltshire with his wife and three children.

Angela Crowther is a retired scientist.  She has published many scientific papers but, as yet, no crime fiction.  In her spare time Angela belongs to a Handbell Ringing group, goes country dancing and enjoys listening to music, particularly the operas of Verdi and Wagner.