Review: Man Down by Roger Smith

In Roger Smith’s Man Down (his first set in the US), South African ex-pat couple from hell, John and Tanya Turner (who are like George and Martha from Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, if George and Martha were psychopaths), are the subject of a terrifying home invasion by three masked men. Initially straightforward, the plot twists and turns as fragile alliances are broken and formed between the captors and their captives, and the story flits between past and present, right up until a genuinely horrific climax.

Man Down is the first Smith I’ve read that I can’t quite give an unconditional rave, but only for reasons that I will explain at the end. Smith has always dealt in shades of grey (tending mostly towards the darker end of the gradient), but here he deals only in black. John Turner is an awful specimen of humanity, redeemed only by the fact that his wife and their kidnappers are so much worse and that he has something that might approximate love towards his daughter and girlfriend.

The story begins in dark fashion, smartly set-up in Smith’s classy, clipped prose, then gets darker and darker as the story progresses, until it collapses in on itself to form a grand guignol black hole of horror from which no light can escape. The tale is very well written, the timelines are beautifully handled, and Smith can elicit suspense like few other thriller writers, but the ending is going to be very divisive. It’s the goriest thing that Smith has ever put in a crime thriller, which is saying something, as Smith does nasty violence very well, but this is more of a horror climax. It is genuinely gut-wrenching in the truest sense of that word. Also, the fate of one of the characters (one of the few to elicit any sympathy, barring the Turner’s young daughter and a kidnapped girl) might jar readers’ sensibilities: Smith sets it up that getting close to a man like Turner, in the manner that they do, is only going to end badly. It makes sense, but that doesn’t make it any easier to stomach.

Man Down is a very good tale, but it’s so harsh and dark, without even a glint of the gallows humour sprinkled through Smith’s other tales, that you come away feeling like you should take a shower after finishing the final sentence. Smith’s brilliance keeps you reading, even when the story becomes unbearably dark and gruesome; it’s a tough tale that’s highly recommended for readers with very strong stomachs, but for those with delicate sensibilities you might want to look elsewhere.

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The Hunters is currently free in the UK & the US…

TheHuntersCover.inddGlasgowGrin2013Heads up, folks. In order to capitalise on the long-awaited release of The Glasgow Grin, the direct sequel to The Hunters, the first book is now currently FREE (Yes, you read that correctly), and the sequel is a very, very reasonable 99p/$0.99. Good deal? Well, the Stanton brothers reckon it’s a steal – and if anybody knows what a steal is it’s those two. So, if that isn’t good enough for you, then I really don’t know how I’m supposed to keep you happy!

Download The Hunters for free here: Amazon US | Amazon UK

Buy The Glasgow Grin here: Amazon US | Amazon UK

Did you buy The Hunters from Amazon (UK & US) on Sunday 15th February?

If so, you may have received a faulty ebook file from them. The file the ebook should contain is, obviously, The Hunters, but yesterday due to a technical glitch (aka I’m a fucking clown) the file that you may have received is The Glasgow Grin.

As it was my fault this happened, and I feel rather bad about it, if you get in contact via thegamblersATgmailDOTcom and give me some proof of purchase then I will supply you with a free ebook of your choice in .mobi format.

And apologies again for the technical glitch!

The Glasgow Grin is finally here

GlasgowGrin2013After 3 years of writing and editing, the direct sequel to The Hunters, The Glasgow Grin, is finally here, slashing its way on to Kindle devices and apps everywhere! And for a fortnight only, it’s at 99p/$0.99. So grab it while it’s cheap.

In the aftermath of The Hunters, the Stantons are in hiding. They have a pile of money that doesn’t belong to them, and a lot of dead bodies to show for it. They’ve never had a problem with doling out violence to Middlesbrough’s villains, but now the stakes are different: A mother and her innocent daughter have been savagely mutilated in a revenge attack by a twisted maniac. An attack for which the Stantons are being blamed…

Bob Owden, feared local crimelord and businessman, wants to know exactly what happened at the Hollis Haulage Massacre. As Bob’s investigation progresses, and victims mount up, he comes to realise that the Stanton brothers might just know a thing or two about it. And anyone who comes to the attention of Bob Owden is not likely to have a long and happy future.

In order to survive, the brothers are going on the warpath. Bringing their own brand of street justice to the scum who cross them, while – of course – making sure that they still make a profit at the end of it. They’ll use blackmail and intimidation to flush out the culprits, all the while dodging hitmen, gangsters, and the ever-increasing bounty on their heads. But even they might have bitten off more than they can chew this time…

Set in a world where everybody’s motives are suspect, where the good guys are bad and the bad guys are worse, where every favour can cost the ultimate price; The Glasgow Grin combines intense, fast-paced plotting, ferocious ultra-violence, snappy, foul-mouthed dialogue, and a rogue’s gallery of twisted villains to create a crime thriller so wild that it just might leave you grinning from ear-to-ear.

Get it here: Amazon UK | Amazon US