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DARK DEBTS By Karen Hall – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 19, 2010 by stanleyriiks

Randa Philips gets a call from her ex-boyfriend telling her to come to meet him quickly in the middle of the night. She goes, not even knowing why. But when she arrives, she’s too late. He’s already thrown himself off the top of his building. After committing an armed robbery where he killed someone.

Jack is the last member of his family, he’s not sure how he knows, but he does know that his brother is dead. His third brother to die, the first committing suicide (or possibly killed by their father), the second being executed by the state for murder, and the third again dying at his own hand. The same as their mother and father, both of whom committed suicide. As the town outcast Jack hides in a basement flat and awaits his fate.

Michael is a Jesuit priest struggling with his faith when his grandfather dies. Torn between love and the church, Michael is drawn into a battle between good and evil when he is called upon to be part of an exorcism.

These three very different characters are brought together to be part of the eternal battle as Satanism and devil worship, rape and family curses all come together.

This is a kind of modern retelling of The Exorcist, but not quite as scary. Although this is nice and dark throughout, the end gets a bit too Jesusy for me. I can quite easily believe in demons and dark ghostly figures, but seem to find it much more difficult to believe in good and helpful spirits.

This is a pretty good book, developing nicely as the tale continues. Hall can certainly write, and keeps your intrigues to see how all these disparate threads of plot will come together.

There are a few cringe-worthy moments when you feel Hall is attempting to convert you to Catholicism, but generally these are few and don’t detract too much from the story.

It’s a mystery thriller with a supernatural bent which will keep you reading with excitement to the end.

STAIRWAY TO HELL By Charlie Williams – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 23, 2009 by stanleyriiks

I approach all new authors (new to me anyway) with a mixture of trepidation and excitement, wondering whether this new bloke is likely to be added to my list of authors to collect, or to go in the pile for the charity shop.

Charlie Williams is neither, but not through any fault of his own.

Let me explain…

Stairway To Hell is told by our erm… hero (which he truly is, although unconventional) Rik Suntan, a mustachioed singer and winner of the Pub Idol contest two years in a row. Rik delights his fans with his renditions of Cliff Richard classics at the Blue Cairo in the small town of Warchester, whilst waiting to hit the big time.

But one terrible night Rik gets hit with a bottle thrown at him while he’s performing on stage, he gets the sack and his girlfriend dumps him. To top if off he’s attacked by a midget.

As if things couldn’t get any worse, Rik finds out that his body is in fact, home to the stolen soul of David Bowie, and he joins a group of other interred souls to try to get back into their proper bodies, by any means necessary. Even if that does involve murder, robbery, and black magic.

Stairway To Hell is in some ways perfectly modern, but in some ways completely retro. It has the feel of returning to a British seaside town you used to visit when you were young, it’s familiar, it’s fun, and it feels comfortable. It harkens back to a yesteryear that never really existed except in your own rose-tinted memories.

The book draws you in completely, Rik’s narrative is warm and funny, you can’t help laughing with him as well as at him. A difficult trick for Williams to pull off.

This is what the BBC call “Light Entertainment”, a kind of Dad’s Army or Last of the Summer Wine, but with young people, and music, and madness, and black magic! It’s also got a bit of mystery going on to help things along.

This is not top of the heap comedy, it’s not going to compete with Stephen Fry or Ben Elton but who possibly can. But it is certainly funny, it’ll make you smile a lot, and even a few chuckles and a lol!

This would make a perfect British Comedy film, and perhaps someone should send a copy to Richard Curtis, the maker of many a perfect British Comedy.

Williams should sit beside Tony Parsons and Nick Hornby, he’s not really as insightful as either of them, but he’s funnier than both. In Rik Suntan he has created a legend in his own lunchtime, a character so realistic, so pathetic, so empathetic, and in the end so heroic, that you can’t help but laugh at him and see a bit of yourself in him at the same time, as sad as it is to admit that.

Stairway To Hell is the perfect book for the man in your life who has everything, and everyone has one of those. Unique, funny, and in its own small way, brilliant.