Tuesday 3 June 2014

Book review : The Boathouse - R.J. Harries

The Boathouse is the name given to a top secret torture facility somewhere in the UK that criminologist Sean Archer is desperate to find. His girlfriend, Alex, a journalist, was murdered when she started snooping around and getting too close to uncovering its secrets, so he wants to finish what she started, hopefully finding out who had her killed in the process so that he can avenge her death. He has a list of suspects and is somewhat surprised when one of them contacts him, asking for his help in a seemingly unrelated case.

Enter Peter Sinclair, ruthless property billionaire whose wife has been kidnapped and who will be killed if he goes to the police. He wants Alex to find the kidnappers, although it's unclear if this is because he is genuinely worried about his wife or if he just doesn't want to be seen as being taken for a mug. Alex sees this as an opportunity to find out more about one of his possible suspects so agrees to help him.

So begins a deadly game of cat and mouse, uncovering secret conspiracies, barbaric cruelty and enough twists and turns to keep the reader turning the pages with bated breath.

I really enjoyed it, trying to work out who was playing who and what the outcome would be, but I thought it went slightly off the rails in the final chapters. I don't have a problem with violence or gore in crime fiction when it is a necessary part of the scenario but the sudden sexual violence of one of the kidnap scenes at the end seemed gratuitous to me. Sean also seemed to morph from a realistic everday hero out to get revenge for his girlfriend into a bulletproof Hollywood hero, capable of taking on a dozen gun-toting hardmen without a scratch while simultaneously scaling a sheer rock face using just his little finger. This was a shame because the gritty realism of the story was what made it so nailbiting.

I suggest reading the blurb on the back of the book before you start reading as it gives a lot of background information on Alex's past which helps explain his motivations and personality. These details do come out in the story but not for some time, so finding out why he is the way he is helps you to connect and empathise with him right from the early chapters. Having not read it to begin with, I felt as though I had come into the middle of a series of books and didn't have all the background information from earlier episodes, so I was quite surprised to discover that this is a standalone novel.

star rating :  4/5

RRP : £8.99

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Matador (14 April 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1783064072
  • ISBN-13: 978-1783064076
  • Product Dimensions: 22.9 x 15.2 x 1.3 cm

Disclosure : I received a review copy of the book.

Other reviews you may be interested in :

Children's book review : Back to Blackbrick - Sarah Moore Fitzgerald

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