As a founder member of Mystery Women in 1997, promoting Crime Fiction has always been my passion.
Following the closure of Mystery Women, a new group was formed on 30th January 2012 promoting crime fiction.
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Duckworth Overlook, 25 August 2016. ISBN:
In our brave new world of post-truth and alternative facts, a novel
which looks at some historical evidence and offers a new interpretation would
seem to be both timely and relevant. That’s what E M Davey does in this richly
detailed, intricate adventure thriller.
It’s described on the cover
as an intelligent historical thriller; that’s not strictly true, although history
does lie at the heart of the fast-moving plot. Protagonists former reporter
Jake Wolsey and renegade MI6 operative Jenny Frobisher are rooted very much in
the 21st century, as is the plot they eventually uncover; but the
thread they chase and the evidence they re-interpret emanate from much earlier
periods of history.
On the surface the theory is
far-fetched: Napoleon, Hitler and possible other empire-building historical
figures owe their success to an ancient text which gives them access to a power
beyond normal understanding. The search for this ancient text forms the
framework of the novel, along with Jake and Jenny’s nail-biting attempts to
outrun rival seekers.
E M Davey’s historical
research is impeccable; the narrative is littered with genuine quotations from
diaries, letters and other documents from several eras, all of which are open
to the interpretation his characters place on them if you keep an open mind. He
also knows how to structure a thriller, opening with plenty of action, leaping from
one story thread to another leaving cliffhangers every step of the way,
engineering last-minute escapes and avoidances for Jake and Jenny, and turning
the chase on its head just when the reader least expects it.
He’s also good at colouring
in the background; a middle eastern prison cell, the African desert and opulent
government buildings are only a few of the well-realized and diverse
environments in which the action takes place.
Some characters are writ
large: British prime minister Victor Milne is almost a caricature of a
power-hungry politician, and some of his cohorts in the security services
wouldn’t be out of place in a James Bond movie. But through all the complexity
(the title is well-chosen!), the uneasy relationship between Jake and Jenny keeps
the reader engaged, and they quickly emerge as real, flawed, vulnerable human
beings despite the special skills they possess.
The Napoleon Complex isn’t a quick, easy read, but it is a rewarding one.
And it will make you think – especially in the light of recent political
developments in the real world.
Reviewer: Lynne Patrick
Edward M. Daveyis a 32-year-old journalist at the BBC specialising in
undercover investigative journalism. He grew up in Bristol and lives in
south London. He studied history at the London School of Economics and cut
his journalistic teeth at the Islington Gazette When not working he
enjoys travel to far-flung and occasionally dangerous spots to research his
fiction, and just for the heck of it. He has backpacked forty-four
countries (and counting), including somewhat hairy environs such as the
Congo, Sierra Leone, Ethiopia and Burundi.. At the BBC he has written for the
national website, produced programmes on the World Service and is currently an
investigative reporter/producer at BBC London. History – particularly classical
history –has been his lifelong passion.
Lynne Patrick has been a writer ever since she could pick up a pen,
and has enjoyed success with short stories, reviews and feature journalism, but
never, alas, with a novel. She crossed to the dark side to become a publisher
for a few years, and is proud to have launched several careers which are now
burgeoning. She lives on the edge of rural Derbyshire in a house groaning with
books, about half of them crime fiction.