Tag Archives: politics

Review: ‘No Man’s Land’ by Neil Broadfoot

A mutilated body is found dumped at Cowane’s Hospital in the heart of Stirling.

The brutality of the murder is like nothing DCI Malcolm Ford has ever seen before, and he pledges to catch the murderer before he strikes again. For reporter Donna Blake it’s a shot at the big time, a chance to get her career back on track while proving her doubters wrong. And for close protection specialist Connor Fraser it’s just a grisly distraction from his day job.

But then another corpse is found in the shadow of the Wallace Monument – and with it, a message. One Connor has received before, during his time as a police officer in Belfast.

With Ford facing mounting pressure to make an arrest and quell fears the murders are somehow connected to heightened post-Brexit tensions, Connor is drawn into a race against time to stop another murder. But to do so, he must question old loyalties, confront his past and unravel a mystery that some would sacrifice anything – and anyone – to protect.

No Man’s Land‘, the first in the Connor Fraser series, is a compelling read that keeps readers guessing until the very end. Drawing upon his experience as a journalist, Broadfoot gives the readers a rare insight into how media, police and politics intersect during times of crisis. 

The grisly murders may pull the reader into this crime novel but it’s Broadfoot’s skilled analysis of political policies that gives this the story real depth. ‘No Man’s Land‘ is a confident study in how ordinary people are affected by the decisions made by an elite few. 

Broadfoot has written a novel that grabs the reader by the throat and doesn’t let go. 

Today is the publication day for ‘No Man’s Land‘, I recommend you get your copy now. 

Vic x


**Friends and Traitors Blog Tour** Getting to Know John Lawton.

Today it’s my pleasure to welcome John Lawton to the blog. His latest novel ‘Friends and Traitors‘ is available now. 

Many thanks to John for taking the time to answer my questions today.

Vic x

Nick Shot Close

Tell us about your books, what inspired them?
I really don’t know. I’ve written most of my life. Certainly since 1957 when I first encountered Shakespeare’s history plays. And in the years that followed, since you can’t imitate Shakespeare’s dialogue unless you’re Tom Stoppard (and whoever watched or read him for his plots?), I came under the influence of writers who were writing stunning dialogue. My first sight of a Pinter play about three years later is still vivid.

Peter Cook’s EL Wisty monologues were compulsive and when the Dagenham Dialogues with Dudley Moore came along … well, I think I learnt as much from them as I did from Pinter. The really odd thing is the switch from writing drama to writing novels, which happened about 1983 … cause? … failure. Wasn’t getting anywhere as a playwright. That said, much of what I write, certainly in earlier drafts, strikes me as reading like a two-hander play. That’s how most of my books begin  … two voices talking in my head.

A taste for dialogue, a course in Russian at University, reading Gorky Park, watching Ian McEwan’s The Imitation Game (not the recent film of the same name) all fuelled the plot line that became my first Troy novel.

Where do you get your ideas from?
Dunno where they come from, but I know where they arrive. Usually in trains, and almost as often out walking. I do a lot of walking.

Do you have a favourite story / character / scene you’ve written?
I think my favourite scene might be towards the end of A Little White Death, when Tara Ffitch takes about a page to slam the morality that put her in court. I stand by every word of that. And I’m quite partial to the scene in Friends and Traitors when Guy Burgess rattles off the list of things he misses in his Russian exile. My favourite characters would be among the minor figures … Fish Wally in two or three novels, and Swift Eddie in most of them — a part I wrote hoping Warren Clarke would play him one day.

Are you a plotter or a pantster?
Not sure I quite understand the question, but I usually have a plot fully worked out in my head before I write a word. Only book I’ve ever plotted on paper was Black Out.

Can you read when you’re working on a piece of writing?
Yes. But not books by anyone doing what I’m doing.

I spent last autumn on a Mick Herron binge, and I think I’ve just begun a Timothy Hallinan binge. Neither of them write historicals.

I keep picking up and putting down Illusions Perdues. I think I might have to wait for a new, better translation, but if that theory works why do I have six different translations of Ovid?

What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever been given and who it was from?
“Write a book a year and take control of your life” – Gore Vidal. Somewhere I still have the letter.

I’ve never been able to do that of course. Come to think of it, I turned down a book-a-year offer from Penguin ages ago. I’m a fan of Philip Kerr’s Bernie Gunther series which appears very regularly and I don’t know how he does it. My ‘mentor’ Ariana Franklin got up to a book a year in her seventies, but I honestly think it was exhausting for her. With hindsight I wish she’d slowed down. So good advice as yet unheeded.

What can readers expect from your books?
Writer vanity prompts me to say that I hope I can shatter expectations with the odd surprise, but a running character creates expectations otherwise she/he would be rather inconsistent. So expect politics, romance, a touch of mayhem. Do not expect a who-dunnit, as my books can bang on for another fifty pages after the who of dunnit is obvious. I cannot change Troy’s character, he will change only as the time-setting of the novels change (and I’ve never liked the idea of fiction existing outside of time …  Troy ages and hence changes) but I quite deliberately move the locations around. Black Out is set entirely in London, with Old Flames I went rural and in Friends & Traitors has a lengthy continental journey before settling back in London.

Have you got any advice for aspiring writers?
Yep. Abandon all social media. Leave it to Trump, he’s welcome to it. I am looking forward to his ‘Twitts from Prison’. Shut down your twitt and bookface accounts, resign from your readers & writers group, bin your iphone, stop talking about writing and write.

If anyone asks why they haven’t seen much of you lately tell them you’ve been studying for the civil service entry exam and are hoping for a job with the ministry of [fill in blank as appropriate]. My usual choice is the ‘White Fish Authority.’ Such a wonderful name for a government ministry, alas it shut up shop in 1981. I wonder if there was ever a ‘Chips and Mushy Peas Marketing Board’?

What do you like and dislike about writing?
Like … the doing of it. One of the best narcotics around and it’s free.

Dislike … promoting a book. Best regarded as a necessary evil. I hate being photographed. (Sorry, Ali Karim.)

Are you writing anything at the moment?
Yep. Third book in the Wilderness trilogy. And another game of with Zoë Sharp. All done by email as we live in different countries.

What’s your favourite writing-related moment?
Dunno. I live by writing, which I consider most fortunate, but to say my moment was the first time I received a fat cheque would be both crass and untrue. I’m not interested in prizes, the gongs and daggers, and winning one didn’t engage with me much. I think it has to be ‘finishing-summat-that-had-me really-foxed’  … which has happened from time to time, but I’m not saying which book or books it was.

Review: ‘Half of a Yellow Sun’ by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

I bought this book simply due to the Orange Broadband Prize for Fiction 2007 ‘Winner’ sticker on the front cover. Initially, I couldn’t understand what all the fuss was over but after completing the book, I realised what a life-changing, inspirational read this book is.

‘Half of a Yellow Sun’ is set in 1960s Nigeria during the Civil War. A village boy, Ugwu, is taken to work as a houseboy for a bourgeois university lecturer. Olanna, the lecturer’s lover, has abandoned a life of privilege to live with ‘her revolutionary’. Olanna’s twin sister embarks upon a relationship with a shy Englishman, Richard, who has come to live in Nigeria to write. When the reality of war finally hits them, their allegiances are tested to the limit. When the independent state of Biafra is declared, the characters are relieved but they have no idea how this independence will negatively affect them.

I found Part 1 quite laborious but after reading more of the book, I realised that Part 1 was important to set the scene and make the reader understand the lives of those involved before war changed them forever. The reader is treated to beautiful, flowing descriptions of the house in which Ugwu works and the people who pass through. Part 1 is full of privileged people talking about theories regarding war and liberty and I found that quite boring at times but what Adichie is doing is demonstrating that the intelligentsia may have theories and ideas but when it comes down to it, war is indiscriminate. It affects everyone.

Some of the scenes in this book are massively difficult to stomach – forced conscription, rape, violence and starvation are some of the themes – but Adichie has based this book on real events that happened. Adichie lost both grandfathers in the Nigeria-Biafra war. This book is not only a story about love and loss but it is also a coming-of-age story and the reader will learn a lot about history too.

Adichie captures the shades of grey perfectly. Her characters demonstrate that there is no such thing as an all-good or all-bad person only good and bad actions. I feel like I learned a lot about Nigerian culture, particularly their belief in spirits and spells which was really interesting.

Olanna and her sister Kainene represent a particularly honest account of sisterhood which I really appreciated.

This story is not an easy read by any stretch of the imagination but I feel it is an important story. There is a great deal of brutality but what you must remember is that these things happened – and continue to happen – in war zones. They may not be easy to read but that’s what adds the power to this novel. Adichie isn’t afraid of shocking the reader and her fearlessness is admirable. Her knack for noticing the little details and making them significant is incredible.

Half of a Yellow Sun is an incredible, honest account of life before, during and after war. It’s so moving and awe-inspiring, I felt so much compassion towards  the characters and all of the people caught up in this terrible conflict.

Vic x

Get your copy of ‘Half of a Yellow Sun’ here: http://amzn.to/khtwOA

Welcome to my world, won’t you come on in?

So, this is my first blog.

Phew, took me hours to set this thing up for starters – not as easy as expected.

What can you expect from my blog? Well, I’m neurotic and may use this blog to vent from time to time. There may be random musings and rants depending on my mood. I Tweet but sometimes 14o characters just isn’t enough!

I love reading so expect plenty of book reviews. I enjoy going to the cinema, when there’s anything worth seeing, is it just me or is there nothing on? I watch a lot of tv so I will be writing about that too. I live in Newcastle but enjoy going out and about to Northumberland regularly so there’s likely to be pictures and stories.

I’m highly curious about the world. I don’t claim to know a lot about it but I may share what I do know here. I’m interested in current affairs and politics too.

I’ve been to New York once before and it truly captured my heart so I am hoping to go back there soon. I’ve visited Oman twice (look it up if you don’t know where it is). I’ve been on the usual packages to Spain, Greece and Bulgaria and I’ve been skiing in France once. I’d like to see more, as well as know more, of the UK and beyond.

I was Evening Chronicle’s Young Reviewer of the Year 2008-2009 where I spent much of my free time reviewing shows, books, concerts, plays, CDs and gigs. A lot of my reviews have been used on people’s websites (yes, I am very complimentary at times). I have a BA in Media, Communication & Cultural Studies from Newcastle Uni and an MA in Creative Writing from Northumbria Uni. I’d love to do a PhD some day. I’m inquisitive and love to learn – I’m a geek and proud of it.

I believe in Ideals not Idols but I do have many role models, some people are worth holding in high esteem. I hate our modern-day celeb culture where people are celebrated for having sordid relations with Z-Listers. What about people who can actually make a difference to the world? What happened to literature being celebrated? Why are people publishing books about the meerkat?! Why not write about someone like Rosa Parks or someone equally interesting? Why are people from Big Brother getting their own TV shows? I feel that currently TV, among other things, pander to the less educated in society. I don’t care who’s had sex with whom – I care about who’s going to make reforms to benefit the common good. I care about who’s going to save innocent civilians being killed or who’s going to stand up for the vulnerable people in societies.

Feel free to comment and get involved, tell me what you want to know or see on this blog, your wish is my command 😉

Vic x

Vic in Hot Springs, Oman