Saturday, September 13, 2014

Book Review- Shemlan by Alexander McNabb

When I'm not working or crafting... I love to read books and had been reading the latest installment from local author, Alexander McNabb... so here's my review of Shemlan! Being able to write a whole book demonstrates such creativity and imagination- it's definitely a craft!

Shemlan, being the third installment in, what I like to call, the “Lynch in Lebanon” series, promised to be a “deadly tragedy” according to the book’s cover and did not disappoint! I have weirdly only read the second book in the series “Beirut” and not the first book “Olives”, and I was too impatient to go backwards after the cliffhangers of the second in the series! I will be going back to the start now and waiting in hope for the 4th novel to appear.

I usually steer away from what I assume to be “blokey” books (i.e. anything political or spy-y… oh apart a bit of a flirtation with Clive Cussler’s “Dirk Pitt” novels) but after reading 10 pages of “Beirut” I was hooked by McNabb’s pace of writing, the inherent intrigue and fast moving, twisting, turning plot… so I guess I’ve discovered myself a new genre of books to read as well as a fabulous author I want to read more of.

Set in Lebanon, Syria, the UK and Estonia, McNabb takes us on a journey of nostalgia, double dealing, drug smuggling and political jiggery-pokery with direct links to the past- proving dirty laundry always rises to the top- no matter what steps you take to cover it up. I have actually been to Lebanon many times and McNabb’s attention to detail and accuracy is to be commended. I can actually imagine and remember the places he is writing about and I’ve been googling Estonia since reading the book, especially to find out about the amazing Ice Road.

There’s a long distance, blast from the past, love letters through the post love story to somewhat lighten the mix, which evokes “what if..?” moments in the reader too and leaves you wondering should you ever go backwards and what would the consequences actually be if you did?

Here’s the official blurb for you- I don’t want to give the plot away too much for the fans out there.

“After a lifetime of service around the Middle East, retired diplomat Jason Hartmoor is dying of cancer. He embarks on a last journey back to Lebanon where he studied Arabic as a young man at the Middle East Centre for Arab Studies, the infamous ‘British spy school’ in the village of Shemlan far up in the hills overlooking Beirut.

Jason wants to rediscover the love he lost when the civil war forced him to flee Lebanon. Instead his past catches up with him with such speed and violence, it threatens to kill him before the disease does. The only man who can keep him alive long enough to face that past is Gerald Lynch.”

It’s a sure-fire keep you up at night, just one more page, not watching the telly tonight book that you are going to devour.

I want to know what Lynch is up to right now… and not to hassle an author George R. R. Martin style- but Dear Mr. Alexander McNabb- when is the next book going to be out?

You can buy your copy of Shemlan online from Amazon here>>

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