As with so many of these categories, choosing just three nominees was an absolute trial, however, in true "eeny, meeny, minny, mo, fashion (just kidding) I have narrowed the field down to the following possible contenders.
I'm always innately suspicious when I hear authors being compared to Ludlum or Dan Brown, so after having read the blurb for Ken Fry's, The Brodsky Affair, I was well prepared to be cynical and if necessary scathing.
There was absolutely no need for any of that. I have read most of Ludlum's novels over the years and I have to say there is indeed a fair bit that is Ludlumesque in Ken Fry's work. I was surprised and satisfied with my reading of The Brodsky Affair. It is an out and out thriller that lives up to its genre name.
The story spans the globe and travels in the upper echelons of the world of fine-art. All the usual suspects were there: the reclusive (misshapen) billionaire art lover who covets his art so badly he is willing to steal, murder or do whatever it takes to gain it; the collection of ex-Soviet Secret Police as henchmen; the honest Russian Copper; and of course, our two heroes Jack and Tamsin. Okay, so maybe it wasn't all that original then, but I'll tell you what it was; it was well written, fast-paced and very easy to read, just like a good Robert Ludlum.
A few things I particularly liked about this story, that lifted it over its competition - 1/ The flashbacks to the painter's life (and death), where we met his family and even his future family. That gave great background context to the story. 2/ The clearly well researched (or visited perhaps) locations for the novel setting and 3/ the excellent relationship the author built between Jack and Tamsin. There was great conflict and also great love and concern between them, often in the same sentences, which I felt was great.
As I only read "indie" authors these days it was refreshing to come across a "big budget" thriller again. Many "indie" authors seem to think it is a genre one step too far for them and best left to the legacy authors. Ken Fry proves them wrong on that front and for that reason plus the excellence of the read, I'm happy to say great job Mr Fry - Wonderful story.
I am sure I will be reading more of Ken Fry's work in the months to come - Don't you just love it when you find a new author to follow?
The Du Lac Chronicles by Mary Anne Yarde is not normally a book I would pick up immediately. I am a history buff, but books about The Dark Ages in Britain are often focused on the legendary Arthurian period and have been well chronicled by many authors and well read by me. The Du Lac Chronicles, though, is slightly different in the respect its time-period is post-Arthurian (just) and introduces a wide cast of characters who immediately grabbed my interest and attention.
The skill of the author in not only grabbing my attention from the very beginning but holding it right to the end and making me thirst for more is what makes this book so enjoyable. I particularly liked the basic premise of the book, which was the idea of the hero (Alden Du Lac), running away with the daughter of his greatest enemy, Cerdic, The King of Wessex.
At its heart, this is a love story and a beautifully told love story at that. Both Alden and Annis have every reason to doubt each other's motives, but neither can deny the incredible attraction between them. One of the best aspects of the story was the familial relationships between the Du Lac children. I really enjoyed the animosity that sparked between Alden, Merton and Budic. The sparks were quick to fly between the brothers (incidentally all children of the legendary Sir Lancelot). The author had us constantly guessing at who would betray who next. I also kept awaiting the arrival of the missing brother, who hopefully would put even more strain on these brotherly bonds. Hopefully, that is still to come in the future episodes of The Du Lac Chronicles.
As an exercise in creating a world that would excite readers and set up a fascinating series, Yarde has done a tremendous job.
Yet again, I find myself discovering one more incredibly talented "indie" author and one more series I must read until the end. A fantastic story and I'm sure what is a wonderful series from Author Mary Anne Yarde.
Trafficking is the first Bill Ward book I've read, but it certainly will not be the last. When I pick up thrillers by these indie authors like Ward or Ken Fry, my immediate thought is, do they measure up to the blockbuster thrillers by the likes of Ludlum, Brown or Clancy? So far, I can only answer a resounding YES, to that question. There are so many incredibly talented indie authors out there and I'll put Bill Ward up there with the best of them, now.
Trafficking is not a pretty story. It is hard, gritty and at times, painful to read. Not because it is not well-written, but because Ward manages to bring the suffering and pain of the modern-day sex slave business, right up into our faces. This book is not for the faint of heart. The violence is graphic and the sex, equally so, but it portrays the real-to-life situation, so many young girls, especially from Eastern Europe, face on a daily basis - lured to England with the promise of jobs only to be used and abused; sold as chattels. It is a horrific industry and Ward captures its evilness and hopelessness, superbly.
In this story, Afina, from Romania travels to England expecting to be working in a bar, only to find herself a forced prostitute and available for whatever degrading and humiliating treatment the customers or her "owners" require of her. Afina is determined to escape and with the help of a retired ex-MI5 operative, Powell, schemes to bring this evil empire down.
Trafficking is one of those books that is hard to put down and before you know it, you've reached the end and are left wondering; what next? Fortunately, Ward has written four "Powell" books to date, so I have no doubt, I'll be diving into book number two, very soon.
An absolute winner and highly recommended by this reviewer.
THE BRODSKY AFFAIR BY KEN FRY
EMBRACE THE OPPORTUNITIES LIFE PRESENTS TO YOU AND ALWAYS, ALWAYS FOLLOW YOUR DREAMS!
HAVE A GREAT LIFE AND SPREAD THE LOVE!
CHANGING THE WORLD – ONE READER AT A TIME