Gentleman Traitor by Alan Williams

Gentleman_traitor_final_RESIZEDAlan Williams’ ‘Gentleman Traitor’ Book Blurb (followed by review):

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THE WORLD’S MOST NOTORIOUS MASTER-SPY COMES IN FROM THE RUSSIAN COLD?

After years of exile in Russia, Kim Philby has had enough. He wants out. But where can he go? He knows too much to be let loose. Above all, he knows too much about his old accomplices who still operate at the highest levels of the British Establishment, occupying top Whitehall positions. So once he sticks his nose outside his privileged Soviet lair, the old wolf’s as good as dead. MI6, the KGB – above all, MI6 – will ruthlessly hunt him down. But Philby is, after all, one of the most skilful agents of all time. So he risks it.

Vicious power politics in London and Moscow… murder beside the Black Sea… bloody massacres in the heart of Africa – as Philby makes his break, violent death follows him. And British Intelligence is threatened with the exposure of the greatest infamy in its history…

Spy fiction from the same stable as Ian Fleming’s James Bond.

Originally released in 1974, Gentleman Traitor has been re-released in December 2013 by Hashtag Books.

I have to say that Gentleman Traitor was an on/off/on read for me, although I did read this over the busy festive period. The very first chapter gripped me with it’s drama and violence, after what was thought to be a group of terrorists entering a busy hotel in Africa, opening fire and killing every soul there, including youngsters! This was quite horrific and at one point in particular with young girls involved, it was quite emotional and tragic.

I just had to read on and longed to find out who was behind this attack. Were the culprits terrorists with serious political issues or could there be some other explanation to this horror? However, the following chapters focused on journalist, Barry Cayle, who was set to write a book on spy and traitor, Kim Philby, who had been living in exile in Russia for the last few years with a reputation of a man who likes a drink or two. Although the initial chapters were of interest and a great basis and background for the remainder of the story, I was a little disappointed that there was no more mention of the event from the first chapter and that the pace of the book was a little slower than I had expected.

The reader follows Cayle’s journey through most of the first half of the story and we find out about Philby’s desired comeback and the story picks up again at a nice pace as Cayle gets to meet Philby. Alan Williams describes the distances that Philby (and anyone connected to him) needs to make to keep everything under wraps extremely well and clear, making it a nice read to follow at the same time as providing the reader with a more complete picture of Philby’s way of life and everything he has to consider before making a move. There are moments in Gentleman Traitor when you simply just don’t know what is going to happen and when, making it an intense read at parts.

I like Cayle’s enthusiasm and determination to acquaint himself with Philby as much as he can. Cayle knows he is in dangerous waters but he still has this drive to discover as much as he can and to be as close as he can if and when anything should happen. Philby, although a traitor, doesn’t seem to be a character the reader dislikes. He has his problems and, knowing he is a hunted man, he has to go to extremes to avoid capture or even death. These events unfold in tragic and disastrous ways for some others, which is incredibly sad and unfortunate for those involved. However, I found myself wanting him to be able to make it through all of this and be able to live the rest of his life in a more relaxed manner and completely disconnected from the British and Russian Establishments.

I must admit a little more speed would have been welcomed during the first section but I must hand it to Alan Williams that he has written this novel well. With a great deal of politics continuing in the background of the main plot, involving the USSR’s KGB and the British MI5 and MI6 and also the geographical scope covering Europe and Africa mostly, one cannot doubt that Alan had extensive knowledge in this area. (I have later came to realise that Alan was in fact a great journalist himself, corresponding from across the globe, and at times when tensions must have been high, in Vietnam, for example.) It was also quite exciting to discover that Kim Philby was a real-life spy who did live in Russia. A character I am sure Alan Williams met once, briefly in Beirut. If so, this explains the storyline of Cayle and Philby, i.e. Cayle is possibly a fictional character based on Williams himself.

After hoping for a little more action in the first half, I did find the latter chapters somewhat fast moving and exciting in comparison. This half of the book certainly goes into the details of Philby’s ‘escape’ from Russia. From hijacking planes, travelling through Scandinavia, keeping an extremely low profile and maintaining an alias this second half becomes quite tense and gripping at times! Without wanting to spoil the ending, I have to say that I was surprised at the ending but found it interesting and liked it a great deal. For me, it was left open with a chance to write a sequel, however, I do like the idea that the reader can still ask questions and perhaps make up their own ending. This is not to say that on the most part stories weren’t wrapped up, because in many respects they were. The story truly came full circle.

Once I realised that Gentleman Traitor was written in 1974, before I began to read the book,  I did consider how I would find the language of the era and questioned whether or not this would be a difficult story to follow. But, as I mentioned above Williams has written this thriller well. It is easy to follow, informative of some political views of the day and well explained. As I was born a good eight years after the original novel, my knowledge of the political states of the countries involved and the espionage that went along with  it is very little. For instance, I was aware of the KGB in the USSR but only as I was an avid fan of the fictional tv series ‘The Professionals’ CI5 (the re-runs in the late 1990’s). Many of the episodes focused on foreign politics and MI5/6 and the KGB and more. Gentleman Traitor has made me more interested in the politics of the 1970’s, even if just to gain a small background knowledge.

I did carry out a little digging and found this great article on Alan Williams, and also found out some more ‘facts’ on Wiki.

Gentleman Traitor is available in Kindle edition  on Amazon UK for 77p, and on Amazon US for $1.25. (Prices are correct at the time of posting but are subject to change.) You can also find paperback copies of Gentleman Traitor on Amazon too!

Gentleman Traitor was received gratefully by publisher, Hashtag Books, in return for an honest and fair review.

Reviewed by Caroline Barker

Stilts (Tessa Dark Trilogy #1) by Tim O’Rourke

STILTS = ORIGINAL + FUN + FASCINATING

Stilts ResizedOh wow! Stilts has blown my mind!!! Such an original idea combined with the need to survive in this great dystopian adventure and not without the conflicts of character,  along with a sweet romantic element. Needless to say, I absolutely LOVED this story from beginning to end! Yes, Tim O’Rourke has done it again with his fascinating imagination for story and characters as well as his ability to keep the reader constantly surprised!

‘Stilts’ is the first book in a new dystopian trilogy by #1 bestselling author Tim O’Rourke.

While eighteen-year-old, Tessa Dark was serving her prison sentence for murder, the world beyond her cell walls changed forever. The thunder came and destroyed the world she had once known. 

Trapped inside the prison and faced with no future, Tessa’s only glimmer of hope is her friendship with fellow inmate Joe McBride. 

Despite Tessa’s fear, Joe decides to go beyond the prison walls to seek help. But when he fails to return, Tessa is determined to go and search for him. 

To gain her freedom, Tessa must first learn to walk, run, and fight on stilts if she is to survive the new and terrifying world on the other side of the prison walls.

When I looked at the words ‘Chapter One’ and read the first sentence “My elbow crunched into his face” it had me straight away. And that is a great example of Tim’s writing, direct, to the point and providing plenty of curiosity for the reader to want (and have) to read on!

The concept of the stilts is a very original idea. Before reading the book I was a little unsure of how this idea could be used in a believable way but I have to say it does work and it works brilliantly! The stilts are used to help the prisoners to survive. And the main focus of ‘Stilts’ is the need to survive for the sake of mankind. Trapped in a prison, it isn’t too long before supplies run out and in order to leave for more they need some way to try and avoid being attacked by Scorchers. Elements of the story early on reminded me a little of ‘The Walking Dead’ tv series. However, instead of zombies here we have Scorchers who have an easy ability to melt/scorch anything they touch.

The turning point is certainly when Joe leaves the prison in the hope of bringing back help. When he doesn’t return hope seems lost. The reader really experiences the rawness of  Tessa’s determination to be able to find Joe and help for all of the inmates. These are desperate times and Tessa will do anything for a chance to find Joe. During Tessa’s adventure the reader is not hidden from the destruction and horror in which the thunderstorm has created. Many of the scenes involving the Scorchers are edge-of-your-seat, nail-biting, excruciating excitement. All of the action scenes are intense, dramatic and gory at times.

Tessa is a great heroine and, for me, not too unlike Keira Hudson from Tim’s Keira Hudson series. Tessa is a strong, decisive, young woman who, when challenged in some pretty terrifying ordeals, she rises above with her head held high and gives it what she’s got. I love her energy, her practicality and her drive. However, unlike Keira, Tessa has been on the wrong side of the law and trouble has come to her. ‘Stilts’ is told from Tessa’s point of view and reads like a narrative, allowing the reader to always be with Tessa and understand all of her thoughts and feelings.

Joe is adorable. Although very much a character to keep himself to himself, especially after past experiences, he almost has no option but to try and fit in after realising there are only those within the prison walls that have been unaffected by the change of the world. It isn’t too long before he finds a friend in Tessa and as their relationship blossoms so do the romantic gestures and dialogue. The writing is truly beautiful, so sweet and heartwarming. It certainly pulls on the heartstrings and the reader could lose a tear or two!

An example of a romantic moment between Tessa and Joe is when Tessa realised Joe had been keeping a CD player in secret:-

‘“Why didn’t you show it to me sooner?” I asked, my face just inches from his.

“Because I preferred to listen to you hum,” he smiled, leaning in and kissing me gently on the cheek.

Closing my eyes, I kissed him back. We danced together cheek to cheek in the workshop while the music played softly all around us.’

One of my favourite areas of Tim’s writing is the describing of the scenery. Tim always makes it so intensifying and exciting, allowing the reader to understand where the characters are and how they deal with their surroundings and the weather. However, whilst some authors can be a little too descriptive Tim writes in such a way that it is incorporated with the characters and their actions, whilst allowing the reader to imagine it for themselves. In ‘Stilts’ the world as we know it becomes cracked, smoking, and even the sky is a constant shade of red. It is absolutely fascinating stuff!

Already ‘Stilts‘, being the first of a trilogy,  is making me a little sad to think that after the next two books it will be over. I didn’t want to stop reading about these characters. The only dislike I had was having to finish it. I’ll certainly be looking forward to the sequel, due for release in 2014!

A copy of ‘Stilts’ was provided by the author for the purpose of an honest and fair review.

‘Stilts’ is published by Hashtag Books and was released on the launch of the publishers, 1st December 2013, along with Alan Williams ‘Gentleman Traitor’ (soon to be reviewed) and Will Davis’ ‘Demonica’. Please check out our review of ‘Demonica‘ and enter your name for a chance to win an e-copy of the book!!!

‘Stilts’ is available at Amazon UK and Amazon US.

 Reviewed by Caroline Barker

Tim’s books are suitable for for young adults and over. To read our reviews of many of his other novels please click on the titles below:-

Vampire Shift (Keira Hudson Series 1, Book 1)

Vampire Wake (Keira Hudson Series 1, Book 2)

Vampire Hunt (Keira Hudson Series 1, Book 3)

Vampire Breed (Keira Hudson Series 1, Book 4)

Wolf House (Potter’s Story) (Kiera Hudson Series 1 Book 4.5) – novella

Vampire Hollows (Keira Hudson Series 1, Book 5)

Dead Flesh (Keira Hudson Series 2, Book 1)

Dead Night – Potter’s Secrets (Keira Hudson Series 2, Book 1.5) – novella

Dead Angels (Keira Hudson Series 2, Book 2)

Dead Statues (Keira Hudson Series 2, Book 3)

Dead Seth (Keira Hudson Series 2, Book 4)

Dead Wolf (Keira Hudson Series 2, Book 5)

Dead Water (Keira Hudson Series 2, Book 6)

Moonlight (The Moon Trilogy #1)

Moonbeam (The Moon Trilogy #2)

Vampire Seeker (Samantha Carter #1)

Witch (Sydney Hart #1)

Vampire Shift – The Graphic Novel (Volume One) (Keira Hudson Series One) –  illustrated by Craig Twyman

Unscathed (written with C.J. Pinard)

The launch of publishing house – Hashtag Books!!!! Plus 2 e-copy GIVEAWAYS of Demonica!

Hi guys, I am so pleased to announce that Hashtag Books are launching today, 1st December 2013. Hashtag Books is a new publishing company established by author Tim O’Rourke, Lynda O’Rourke and Peter Buckman (who sold the movie rights for ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ amongst many other accolades spanning 50 years in the TV, Movie and publishing industry).

To kickstart their launch today they have three fantastic novels to release:-

Stilts (Tessa Dark Trilogy, #1) by Tim O’Rourke

(Please click on the title for our review)

‘Stilts’ – the first book in a new dystopian trilogy by #1 bestselling author Tim O’Rourke.

Stilts ResizedWhile eighteen-year-old, Tessa Dark was serving her prison sentence for murder, the world beyond her cell walls changed forever. The thunder came and destroyed the world she had once known. 

Trapped inside the prison and faced with no future, Tessa’s only glimmer of hope is her friendship with fellow inmate Joe McBride. 

Despite Tessa’s fear, Joe decides to go beyond the prison walls to seek help. But when he fails to return, Tessa is determined to go and search for him. 

To gain her freedom, Tessa must first learn to walk, run, and fight on stilts if she is to survive the new and terrifying world on the other side of the prison walls.

Stilts can be found on Amazon US and Amazon UK.

Demonica by Will Davis

(Please click on the title for our review to enter our GIVEAWAY! We have 2 e-copies to giveaway – simply add your name in the comments below to enter. The winners will be randomly selected on FRIDAY 13TH DECEMBER 2013.)

Demonica_Cover_(Resized)

When spoilt eighteen year old Miranda suffers a terrible accident she survives, but her face is hideously scarred.

Unable to bear what has happened to her, she locks herself away. Her only companions are Veronica, her cruel and beautiful mother, and Nelly, the sympathetic housekeeper.

As time passes Veronica inflicts cruelty after cruelty on her disfigured daughter. Lonely and filled with despair, Miranda is astonished when Bernard, Veronica’s handsome younger boyfriend, takes an interest in her circumstances.

For Bernard believes there is an operation that can restore Miranda’s face. But it will involve committing an unspeakable crime. A decision that will haunt her for the rest of her life…

In the tradition of Angela Carter and Daphne du Maurier, Demonica is a terrifying modern fairy tale.

Demonica is now available on Amazon US and Amazon UK.

Gentleman_traitor_final_RESIZEDGentleman Traitor by Alan Williams

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THE WORLD’S MOST NOTORIOUS MASTER-SPY COMES IN FROM THE RUSSIAN COLD?

After years of exile in Russia, Kim Philby has had enough. He wants out. But where can he go? He knows too much to be let loose. Above all, he knows too much about his old accomplices who still operate at the highest levels of the British Establishment, occupying top Whitehall positions. So once he sticks his nose outside his privileged Soviet lair, the old wolf’s as good as dead. MI6, the KGB – above all, MI6 – will ruthlessly hunt him down. But Philby is, after all, one of the most skilful agents of all time. So he risks it.

Vicious power politics in London and Moscow… murder beside the Black Sea… bloody massacres in the heart of Africa – as Philby makes his break, violent death follows him. And British Intelligence is threatened with the exposure of the greatest infamy in its history…

Spy fiction from the same stable as Ian Fleming’s James Bond.

You can find my reviews of DEMONICA (WILL DAVIS) and STILTS (Tim O’Rourke) live on our blog and Gentleman Traitor (Alan Williams) will follow soon!

Don’t forget to enter our Demonica GIVEAWAY!

We wish Hashtag Books every success!!!

Caroline 🙂

Coming soon: DEMONICA by Will Davis

Demonica_Cover_(Resized)Due for release in two weeks time, 1st December 2013, author Will Davis will be releasing his new novel, a horrifying modern-day fairytale , ‘Demonica‘!

Demonica will be published by Hashtag Books. Hashtag Books is a new publishing company established by author Tim O’Rourke, Lynda O’Rourke and Peter Buckman (who sold the movie rights for ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ amongst many other accolades spanning 50 years in the TV, Movie and publishing industry).

Tim O’Rourke: “This is one great read that will stay with you long after you’ve finished the book!”

I will certainly be reviewing this one very, very soon. In the meantime, check out the blurb below and add to your to-read lists:-

When spoilt eighteen year old Miranda suffers a terrible accident she survives, but her face is hideously scarred.

Unable to bear what has happened to her, she locks herself away. Her only companions are Veronica, her cruel and beautiful mother, and Nelly, the sympathetic housekeeper.

As time passes Veronica inflicts cruelty after cruelty on her disfigured daughter. Lonely and filled with despair, Miranda is astonished when Bernard, Veronica’s handsome younger boyfriend, takes an interest in her circumstances.

For Bernard believes there is an operation that can restore Miranda’s face. But it will involve committing an unspeakable crime. A decision that will haunt her for the rest of her life…

In the tradition of Angela Carter and Daphne du Maurier, Demonica is a terrifying modern fairy tale.

Will Davis is already published by Bloomsbury and a prize winning author for his debut novel ‘My Side of The Story’.

Happy reading, guys!

Caroline 🙂