So hopefully you’ll be familiar with this intro by now, but I was asked by the awesome Rachel’s Random Resources (who you should reach out to if you are an author, who wants help to connect with a wider audience of dedicated reviewers and bloggers) to review A Friend in Deed by G.D Harper (the author you might recognise from two of my previous reviews which you can check out here and here). This isn’t the first time I’ve taken part in a blog tour, and you can see the other times by clicking here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here. That will probably be the last time I list all of the blog tours I’ve been involved in as the list is starting to get prohibitively long, however I will still endeavour to mention, for the purposes of clarity and openness, that I am taking part in a blog tour when that is the case, and also mention as I like to do that even though I’ve been asked to review this book as part of a blog tour that I am not being paid, nor am I directly affiliated with the author or the blog tour host, and you should still expect the same standard of quality, honesty and fair and balanced approach that I take to all of the content on the site.
I’ve reviewed G.D Harper’s work before, and if you haven’t then I strongly urge you to check him out, but anyway for the uninitiated G.D Harper is a graduate of Glasgow University (which he attended from 1975 to 1978) and during that period he also lived in the west end of Glasgow. It was those experiences which helped to shape the background of his previous two books ‘Love’s Long Road’ and ‘Silent Money. I aim to secure an interview with the author in the near future to go along with the recent reviews I’ve done of his work, but in the meantime if you’d like to learn more about the author then you can visit his website or social media by following him on Facebook and Twitter.
And now for the review itself, and we will start off with a recurring theme/element of these reviews of G.D Harpers work, the reality within the fiction. By which I mean, his attention to detail regarding setting, it helps to flesh it out and make it the engaging narrative that it is. In this case, he actually lived and worked in Russia and Ukraine, which informed the backdrop, much the same way his period living in Scotland brought authenticity to the previous two novels.
I enjoyed this book immensely, it focuses on the near future, which is a distinct change as his previous two novels were set in the past. A Friend in Deed deals with politics, journalism and conspiracy and ties it all up into a complex and gritty thriller that was deeply engaging and continued to build on the goodwill generated by the author from the quality of his previous works.
While I have little to no first hand knowledge of Russia, I am a journalist and so I was able to connect more deeply with the main character Duncan Jones, although that being said, all of his characters come off well, rich and real, but even though I was able to find something personal that connected me more deeply to the narrative, I don’t feel like it’s necessary or required to appreciate and be swept away by it. Additionally, this isn’t the first time we’ve met Duncan, if you have read his other two books then you might recognise him from ‘Love’s Long Road’, although the character has grown and developed as you might expect over the years.
I mentioned above that the characters resonate quite well, that’s in no small part due to the writing skill of Harper, I’ve been impressed with it throughout these blog tours and he is on top form with this book, in fact it’s perhaps my favourite of the three I’ve reviewed. I will say that I find it easy to get into a book, even one I’m not particularly enjoying, but I was surprised by how quickly I got caught up in this one, perhaps it was my familiarity with the author’s style by this point that made it easier or perhaps it was just that based even on the synopsis I was really excited to have a read at it, but either way I hammered through this exceptionally quickly.
I’ve made a point several times now of talking about the setting and the realism written into the books, and again as I mentioned up top, the author is truly a master at this, he creates such a clear and evocative picture that I strongly believe he could make even the mundane readable. That being said, he really managed to bring something else to this one. I’m very politically active and interested, I feel apathy or disinterest only serves to make this country worse, but with everything going on in Trump’s America, and of course the whole Brexit debacle closer to home it’s a very heated time for the political structure of the world and this book manages to capture that very palpable tension and energy present and spin gold from it.
Overall, I would have to say that this book presents honestly, the world it is today, with a startling faithfulness, we are sucked in on page one and held captive by the engrossing plot, characters and backdrop until we are deposited on the final page, satisfied by the clever political thriller, and ever so slightly ambivalent about it ending because it’s over. Although it does mean I can start again. So with that in mind I have no reservations about giving this book a 5/5.
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