Wednesday, 12 August 2009

We Are Family - A Duet of Reviews

My Dad is fairly getting into this reviewing lark, although I'm slightly concerned that he's soon going to be demanding payment. So, while I still have his services free of charge, here is my Dad's review of Ken McClure's WHITE DEATH, and my review of Karen Campbell's THE TWILIGHT TIME (just to prove that I'm not a lazy blogger).

Publisher: Polygon
Published: 2009

This book should come with a government health warning. Do not read if you are a hypochondriac or are of a nervous disposition. For someone who can count the number of times he has visited the doctor on one hand, and still have enough fingers left to give a victory sign, the first few chapters were way above my head. When the investigation started I felt the book got going, however, and I could see that the medical terms and background were necessary for the development of the story.

WHITE DEATH tells the story of Dr Steven Dunbar - an ex-special forces soldier and Sci-Med investigator - following through an investigation into the reasons why a group of schoolchildren were vaccinated with a modified drug, and the subsequent deaths of two of the people involved with them. The story was chilling and believable, and kept me enthralled to the end which was in part surprise, and in part predictable. I will certainly look out for more of Ken McClure's novels.

Reviewed by: Donna's Dad.

Karen Campbell - THE TWILIGHT TIME
Publisher: Hodder and Stoughton
Published: 2008

Karen Campbell is an ex-police officer, and that definitely shows in THE TWILIGHT TIME, her first novel. When Sergeant Anna Cameron arrives at Glasgow's Stewart Street police station to take charge of the Flexi Unit she shows a very confident front - composed, successful, and more than a little frosty. Her personal life, however, is anything but composed and successful. She's having an affair with a married senior officer, she has few friends, and she discovers that a member of her new squad is an ex-lover who dumped her unceremoniously back in police training college. It's a small squad, and the team are assigned to deal with street offences, car crime, shoplifting, and policing the prostitutes along The Drag - a stretch of Glasgow a few blocks long. Prostitutes are being viciously attacked and Anna's team is tasked with solving the crimes - a task made much more difficult by the often suspicious and sometimes downright unhelpful nature of the victims. And, in a lot of ways, the prostitutes are right to be suspicious of the police. Several are insensitive, boorish and uncaring. And not only to the prostitutes. In addition, Anna gets involved in the case of an elderly Polish man who is the target of racial abuse. He gets under her skin and the reader is shown the softer, more caring side to her character.

One of the strengths of the book for me is Anna's relationships - with her ex-lover, her police colleagues, the working girls and the elderly Polish man. The reader is shown several facets of Anna - not all of which sit comfortably together. She's a really interesting character - sometimes frustrating, sometimes cold, often very likeable, but above all, never dull. All the characters are very well drawn and some of them are surprisingly touching, without being cloying and melodramatic. In places the book is very dark and not for the squeamis..There are some warts-and-all examples of police procedure and after one such example I gained a new respect for the boys and girls in blue and decided that I never wanted to shake hands with one, let alone be one! Along with the darkness there are also some great touches of black humour which mean that it's not a depressing read.

The setting is one of the best depictions of Glasgow I've read, and it's shown as the schizophrenic, gritty, in-your-face, characterful city it is. On top of all that, there's a gripping plot that is full of twists and turns. But this is not a bog standard police procedural. It's an insight into real peoples' lives - police, victims and criminals - who all come across in shades of grey.

Reviewed by: Your humble blogger.


  1. That's a good idea. With two more in the post why not?

  2. What's a good idea, pater? Me paying you? There are 2 free books on the way that I went to Borders and bought with my hard earned cash - what more do you want? :o) And sign your posts - I'm just guessing that was you!
    Your favourite daughter.

  3. Wy? i like being anonymous

  4. Good grief. How did I turn out so NORMAL?