Sunday, 8 December 2013

BOOK REVIEW: 'JUST ONE EVIL ACT' by Elizabeth George

Just One Evil Act (Inspector Lynley Mystery) - read November, 2013

I suggested this to a thriller readers' group - and wished that I had not, as no-one liked it. In fact I may be the only member of the group who finished it! Excluding the spoiler, here is what I reported back to the group:

At last I have reached the end of `Just One Evil Act' and it has been a real roller-coaster of a ride. I am left wondering what to say about it - simply because it is SO long and parts of it are so tough to get through. The last quarter of the book is the best by far. I think that the entire book could have been cut right back with some judicious editing. I could also have been made much easier to read by the exclusion of Italian words - you have to ask yourself WHY she felt the need for this when it actually detracts from the reader's understanding and enjoyment of the book. Bizarrely in the first part of the book the description and behaviour of Barbara Havers drove me mad and, I believe, has put some readers right off the book - and yet once she arrives in Italy this all seems to change. The character of the Italian policeman Salvatore Lo Bianco is beautifully drawn and his interaction with Barbara is intriguing as it combines compassion with a fierce intelligence.

Am I glad I read to the end? Yes, and I actually enjoyed the last 20%! Would I recommend it? Er... probably not.

Monday, 4 November 2013

For Jack Sadler - Afghanistan, 4th December 2007, Aged 21

FOR JACK SADLER - GUILTY                         by P R Ford, November 2013

Do you feel guilty for being alive?
For seeing a day which he did not see?
For feeling the chill of Autumn’s breath
As the raucous groans of rooks in the tree
Echo across barren fields, yet not
Bursting through air like a rifle shot?

Do you feel guilty for growing old?
Or welcome the ache of the swollen thumb
Fore-running the pain? – Sweet agony looms,
Not sudden, like flesh torn open and raw,
Nor lethal as chemicals which suddenly blow -
But slow and insidious. - He will not know.

His aging is there on memorial stone
Which weathers and yellows as memory fades.
His smile, cut off, will not lose its shape
As the photo curls or the image gapes.
Don’t cut it! Enhance it, love and embrace
His life, his youth, his darling face –
Oh yes! I feel guilty.

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

'The Uninvited Guest' - A Short Story


‘The Uninvited Guest’ by Eleanor Fortescue Brickdale

e was there again. As she turned her head to glance back at Margaret, who was arranging her dress, she caught sight of him. This time he was closer than before, seated at the foot of one of the stone columns where he must have waited for her to pass by. So on this, her wedding day, he had chosen to distract her with his unearthly presence. On this most important day of her life, he was taking her mind off her flowers, her dress, the ceremony... She pretended not to notice. The page preceding her continued his slow march leading the newly married couple out of the church to their celebrations and their destiny.
She had last seen him when they read the banns. His expression was the same: desultory longing which he could not conceal. There was an air of hopelessness about him. A lost soul, perhaps? She knew, though, that he was watching her. No-one else. It seemed as though he had unfinished business with someone. Was it with her?
She almost tripped, and her new husband’s strong hand immediately took hold of her arm in a gentle, reassuring grasp. She glanced up at him and met his proud, smiling gaze. The silk of her dress rustled as it re-settled around her.
Another glance back confirmed her suspicions: he was still there. He had risen to his feet and she saw the long bow in his hand and the quiver full of silver-tipped arrows hanging from his shoulder. His expression was both grim and sad.
She knew now that he was going to kill her. She had recognised his identity. He was the Angel of Death about whom so many stories were told.  If only she could have had a little more time. This was supposed to be the happiest day of her life, not the last. Her husband was a good man. She did not know him very well, but she had hoped for more time than this, for time to get to know his body and his soul, to bear his children and perhaps even to love him...
She risked a final look, and saw that he had fitted one of the arrows to the bowstring and was standing in the classic manner of an archer, one foot forward, drawing back the string and straining the curve of the weapon.
She stopped.
She closed her eyes.
She waited.
She alone heard the rush of the arrow as it sped through the air towards her, its silver tip parting the molecules of oxygen, its shaft vibrating.
As it pierced her heart she fell against her husband and he took her in his arms. She felt the blood swelling, rising in her body and falling again as it drained out of her face – yet not out of her wound.
She opened her eyes as his lips touched hers, and immediately realisation dawned. It had not been Death who had shot his arrow into her, but Love.

This little story was inspired by the picture and written to submit to the Google+ Speculative Fiction Writers community SFFFlash ‘Just For Fun’ weekly article. My thanks to them for the inspiration!

Thursday, 25 July 2013


The ideal reader of my book will be someone who enjoys a puzzle and loves surprises - because things never go the way the reader expects. Things go wrong, they are shocking. Some events delve backwards into the past to attempt to solve the mystery. Others move forward into the present to provide more consternation. Characters discover that they are not who they think they are, and neither are their friends or even those closest to them. People move from normal everyday life across the boundaries of time and space, and in so doing create even more predicaments, adding to the confusion. The reader will love this, will want to understand what is happening, but will be so mesmerised by the narrative, so attracted to some of the characters and so concerned by their fate that he or she cannot stop reading.  

What goes wrong? – Helen, a young accountant struggling with life post-divorce, and on holiday in Ireland, steps through a doorway and finds herself in the past, thereby triggering an alarm in an alien world.

What is shocking? - You will have to wait and see...


Monday, 15 July 2013

Too hot for writing...

Today the digital voice recorder which I have been SO looking forward to has arrived. And - guess what? It is too hot in my study to work. I can no more begin to read my work into the recorder than fly to the moon. I cannot even think, let alone summon up the energy to work on my book. Suddenly it is 28 degrees and my brain has decided to close down this lovely creative side which it has so recently opened up. All I can do is listlessly to learn all the features of the voice recorder (it's brilliant, by the way) ready to begin when it cools down. The whole idea is to read the book on to the recorder so that I can listen to it and see whether or not it flows, note any errors and generally check whether I am happy with it or not. Never mind, I will do it. Perhaps I will get up early tomorrow...

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Introduction to Characters

Here is a taste of the characters I am writing about:

1938. We are at a cocktail party. 

Allow me to introduce the young woman with blonde hair and startling pale grey eyes. This is Helen – she hasn’t been born yet. She will be the child of Mark, that kind-looking man over there talking to his friend. Oh yes, his friend Hugo is about to experience a doomed love affair with an alien woman who eats silver. There she is, the short young lady... but I digress. 

Look across at the tall, Scandinavian-looking man who is watching Helen’s every move. That is Garamond, he is from the dead planet Illandra. He will find Helen in the future. 

If you look over through that doorway, you will see the purple view of his home. Be careful as you walk past the mirror: Lily is watching you. 

Steady as you go, Tobias is turning the ship so that we have a fine view of Earth. Oh I am sorry, did you think that you were on Earth?