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Monday, 29 September 2014

Writing - reviews and reading between the lines

This is a 4-star review of my book Blood of the Dragon Trees, posted on Amazon by Michael Parker, a crime/suspense/adventure novelist. It raises some interesting questions, in fact, which I'll comment on at the end.


Visitors to Tenerife will recognise the beauty of the island in Nik Morton's evocative descriptions of what the island has to offer to the tourist, but few, if any, will recognise the darker side so vividly portrayed in this novel.

No doubt the fiction is inspired by Morton's ability as a thriller writer, and not something that he has uncovered by stealth.

It is a fact that immigrants head for the Canary Islands from Africa, but here Morton has added spice to the tragedies that often unfold through people-trafficking.

In Blood of the Dragon Trees, Morton puts his main character, Laura Reid, in mortal danger simply because she has unwittingly placed herself in a new teaching job with a family (possibly) involved in the dark arts of people-smuggling and trading in endangered species. She finds herself drawn to Felipe, the brother of her employer, but Felipe's girlfriend, Lola, turns out to be something other than a girlfriend scorned.

Piling into this conspiracy of thieves and murderers is Andrew Kirby who is attracted to Laura for reasons other than just wanting her to help him in his pursuit of the villains. Along with the local police and the Guardia Civil, Laura and Andrew find themselves hounded by the criminals where their lives are in danger.

Nik Morton takes the story along at a fine pace, and readers of his past novels will not be disappointed in his narrative, his characterisation and careful plotting.
End of review
I'm intrigued (and flattered) by the comment regarding the dark side depicted being from my imagination and not something I have personally experienced. That's what we writers always strive for, yet don't always attain - believability.
I remember in 2006 when I was a winner in the Harry Bowling competition with my first chapters of a crime thriller about a nun who had been a cop (published in 2007, out of print at present). The judges were surprised that it was written by a man (since it was a first person, female POV) and even wondered if I'd been in the police.
Like most writers, I'm sure I make factual mistakes. And not all of them get spotted by an editor - but I can always fall back on the 'excuse' that it's fiction. These days, however, readers tend to want realism to a high degree - that believability. That's down to research; and of course some resources will conflict and it's not always possible to validate them. Double check, if you can. There's a maxim I've used in my book Write a Western in 30 Days - 'if in doubt, leave it out'.  If a fact can't be checked, seriously think about leaving it out. Or make a point of earmarking it as fictional, so if you're queried about it later, you can say, 'I made it up!'
Michael Parker has spent the last 17 years in Spain but is shortly about to return to UK with his wife Pat. I can heartily recommend his books, among them Shadow of the Wolf, Hells' Gate, Roselli's Gold and The Boy From Berlin.
Blood of the Dragon Trees is published by Crooked Cat Publishing and currently has eight 5-star reviews on the UK site.
Purchase the e-book from Amazon UK here
Purchase the e-book from Amazon COM here
Purchase paperback post-free worldwide from here

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