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Wednesday 16 September 2020

‘The Syndicate’ by G.J. Minett

Published by Zaffre,

9 July 2020.
ISBN: 978-1-78576-536-0 (PB)

This is the long-awaited fourth thriller by the author, who has three previous novels to his credit, and it’s a thumping great read.

Jon Kavanagh, now in his sixties, is a former army soldier who was badly injured in a bomb blast in Northern Ireland and is now a reformed contract killer and specialist bookseller, living under the radar.  He was dangerous and ruthless. He’d stop at nothing.  But one day, twenty years ago, when involved with a London syndicate headed by brutal crime lord Maurice Hayes, the father of Jon’s buddy who was killed in combat, Jon made a mistake. He left unfinished business at a crime scene.   Standing at the top of the stairs was a three-year-old girl, in a pink nightie, a potential witness, who, when he walked away, he left alive but ought to have killed as ‘collateral damage.’  For many years he has been haunted by the memory of her and wondered what became of her. Now he makes it his mission to find her and is on a quest to atone for his corrupt and villainous past.

The story is set against several backdrops the most evocative being: the scenic resort of Portugal’s Praia D’El Rey with its rolling sea and beach, Durdle Door in Dorset, an area of outstanding natural beauty with its challenging cliff top walks, and Tyneham Village, now a deserted village in Dorest, managed by the Ministry of Defence, where time stopped in 1943 when it was evacuated and villagers were not permitted to return.  All play a part in the ingenious, intricately layered, fast paced plot.

The Syndicate never forgets and is out to tie up loose ends and make Jon pay for his mistake. They’re coming for him. Jon is now living on borrowed time and his past catching up with him is woven cleverly into the gripping, high-tension story with its gritty, nuanced dialogue.  The characterisation is brilliant, the story truly compelling and full of suspense with many twists and turns and the ending is stunning.   I didn’t see that coming. Highly recommended.

Reviewer: Serena Fairfax

Serena Fairfax spent her childhood in India, qualified as a lawyer in England and practised in London for many years. She began writing by contributing feature articles to legal periodicals   then turned her hand to fiction. Having published nine novels all, bar one, hardwired with a romantic theme, she has also written short stories and accounts of her explorations off the beaten track that feature on her blog. A tenth, distinctly unromantic, novel is a work in progress. Thrillers, crime and mystery narratives, collecting old masks and singing are a few of her favourite things.

G J Minett studied Languages at Churchill College, Cambridge before teaching for several years in Gloucestershire and West Sussex.  In 2008 he completed a part-time MA in Creative Writing at the University of Chichester and subsequently won both the inaugural Segora short story competition in 2008 and the Chapter One competition in 2010. The latter consisted of the opening sections of what would eventually become his debut novel, The Hidden Legacy. Now writing full-time, he is published by Bonnier Zaffre. He lives in West Sussex with his wife and children.

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