Saturday, 25 July 2009

Allan Mayer’s ‘Tasting the Wind...’ Murder, mystery and mayhem!

Allan Mayer's Tasting the Wind takes us into a realm far darker than many a fictional or true life horror story. Neglect, physical, sexual and mental abuse, torture, ridicule and murder. It is not a story set in World War 11 enemy prison camps. No, these are places that have existed since the 13th century, starting with Bethlem Royal Institution, commonly known as Bedlam.

The somewhat hapless, but extremely funny, sensitive and caring Martin Peach is thrown into what is hopefully the tail end of a very dark stain on British history following the breakup of his relationship. Two hundred miles from home, living with a couple of lovable 'oddballs', coping with integrating six institutionalised people with so called 'learning difficulties' into the community and ... tangled up in solving a murder that happened ten years previously.

I got very attached to the new occupants of 'the Bungalow', learning difficulties? It brings to mind one of my Granny's sayings, 'He's not as green as he's cabbage looking.' I don't know if it was Allan Mayer's intention, but he has shown through his writing that it is a very large proportion of the general population that has the learning difficulty.

Allan Mayer's portrayal of life in institutions and helping to forge new lives for his characters, is stunningly accurate and poignant. His skilful injection of humour and compassion coupled with a very clever murder mystery to solve, make this a thoroughly enjoyable and compelling read.

Allan is very generously giving half of his royalties to Derian House Childrens Hospice.

Monday, 20 July 2009

Douglas Jackson’s Caligula... Did he time travel to write this remarkable novel?

Before I begin my review of Caligula, I must start with a quote from Stephen King's On Writing aka my 'bible'.

'Fresh writing on the other hand, teaches the learning writer about style, graceful narration, plot development, the creation of believable characters and truth telling. A novel like The Grapes of Wrath may fill a new writer with despair and jealousy - 'I'll never be able to write anything like that, not if I live to be a thousand.' But such feelings can also serve as a spur, goading the writer to work harder and aim higher. Being swept away - or being flattened, in fact - is part of a very necessary formation. You cannot hope to sweep someone else away by the force of your writing until it has been done to you.'

Well, my friends, it has been done to me by Douglas Jackson's
Caligula. Truly a modern day great. This is not me just spouting 'hot air' or false praise, as his new publishing success of his new 'baby' Claudius, (my next read) which I believe is part of a three book deal offer, will attest
. I wish him all the best with this new venture. Keep a close eye on this author's work if you are a true lover of really great fiction.


As shocking as it is spectacular, Douglas Jackson's
Caligula is so vivid, it is as if has witnessed everything. He writes with such mastery, that, like Rufus, you want to turn away from the horrific spectacles but are compelled to read on. I defy anyone not to be transfixed by this story that takes one through and beyond the full gamut of every human emotion. Such empathy and passion, with powerful sensuous erotic moments, intertwined with so much pathos.

Whether you know of the Rome of old or have not even the slightest interest in history, has no relevance. This book will appeal to anyone who wants a damn good read. It is, in short, a masterpiece.