Wednesday, 9 September 2009


Today, a duet of reviewlets from me and my Dad.

First, my thoughts on BARBELO'S BLOOD.

Capt. Joseph Barbelo - BARBELO'S BLOOD
Publisher: Galway Print
Published: 2009
(Soon to have a spiffy new cover and be re-published under the author's real name.)

First of all, this book is completely bonkers and defies all reviewing. I could stop there, but I won't, of course. BARBELO'S BLOOD is like a cross between Death Wish and Grumpy Old Men. The subtitle is "The Trusty Terrorist's Illuminati Handbook", and it has all that and more - conspiracies, major philosophical concepts, action-hero thriller stuff and complete and utter madness. Really, I mean it.

This utterly lunatic book is set in Brixton in the 1980s and, stars... eighty-two year old Capt. Joseph Barbelo who, despite his advancing years, takes over a 'firm' and causes havoc - even going so far as to contemplate blackmailing the Bank of England. Lots of very clever stuff, lots of stuff that went over my head, and lots of stuff that made me laugh. Barbelo is a fascinating character, and the supporting characters are excellently drawn - particularly the women, two of whom I absolutely adored. I have no idea how to classify this one - magical realism meets hardboiled meets heavy acid trip, perhaps. A very, very different book that I heartily recommend. But not to my Mum.

And next, my Dad's comments on ABSOLUTION (after he gives you a summary of his reading habits for the last 70-odd years).

Caro Ramsay - ABSOLUTION
Publisher: Michael Joseph Ltd
Published: 2007

My reading habits were formed many years ago. Firstly the Biggles books by Capt. W E Johns, then The Saint books by Leslie Charteris, graduating to the novels by Ernest Hemingway, John Steinbeck, Charles Dickens and many others. I tried to read a whole series by those authors. After reading Caro Ramsay's first book I am looking forward to what follows.

Absolution starts in 1984 with PC Alan McAlpine looking after a girl in hospital. His imagination forms a picture of her, and he falls in love with that picture. The story then jumps forward to 2006, where, as a DCI, Alan McAlpine investigates a series of murders. By this time he is married, but still in love with the picture formed 22 years previously and, unfortunately, becoming an alcoholic. After his wife is attacked the investigation continues, run by his colleagues. The outcome was fairly obvious, with the two halves of the story coming together, however there was an unexpected twist at the end. There is much more to the story, but to put too much would spoil the tale to those who have not read it.

The characterisations appear to be what one would expect from an overworked group of police, the interviewees are not very helpful, and the reasons behind the murders and the murderer are quite believable.


  1. Ah wonderful Biggles! Oops I am showing my age.

  2. Norm - I loved Biggles too - thanks to my Dad!