An email arrived in my inbox from a retired British army officer. He wished to share his thoughts with me about Sandman (book 4 in the DI Marsh series). I read his email with a flutter in my stomach: a mixture of excitement and trepidation. After all, this was an expert in the field of warfare, and he was referring to my book!
“I am not able to offer an erudite, literate assessment of Sandman however on a visceral level the book is, well, it just … ‘works’. It is entertaining, absorbing, addictive and well structured or, in other words a jolly good read. I enjoyed your book, my wife enjoyed your book and now my daughter is reading – and enjoying – your book.
Your grasp of the realities is sublime. The heaviness of a German Toy. The sullen, slack, dead weight of a body. Anger and adrenaline. Detachment and retreat from emotions.
You have quite captured the bleak landscape of killing. You have understood the realities of war, radicalisation, anger and the practicalities of survival in a foreign land.
Medals. Your Sergeant Butler won the Military Cross in the Falklands. […] at the time there was class distinction in all walks of life, even gallantry. Richard Butler would not have been eligible for an MC in 1982, his award would have been the Military Medal.
Magnum. The Magnum .44 is an awful gun. It is extremely heavy with a vicious recoil, making accurate shooting very difficult indeed. It is also very expensive and the ammunition is hard to obtain. It is however a superb weapon if one is very close to a target and one has strong wrists… !!
The Magnum? Good and bad – the parsons… A veritable conundrum. Dirty Harry, .44 Magnum cartridge and the power of a shotgun. But expensive, rare and hard to use. The S&W 29 is a blood heavy gun…
If your terrorist wanted a firearm, then something from the bloc would be far easier and cheaper. Makarov. CZ75. Second hand P38? Cheap, anonymous and easily found.
Or American – 1911, Colt. German – Walther.
The ending of your book, hard and fair. Have you left room for another chapter? Is the tale not yet complete? Or is there a new story to tell?”
I am so chuffed with this feedback that I could scream the roof off the house! It’s constructive and honest, and at the same time, it is positive! A jolly good read! he said.
It is often said, but not often enough, that book reviews are the writer’s life support. We feed on them. They help us build meaningful relationships with readers. Praise sends us orgasmic with pride. Brutal criticism has its value too, as long as it is constructive and not designed to hurt. Criticism is like bitter-tasting medicine – we don’t like it much, but once we digested it, we find that it helps us get better at our craft. So, dearest reader, never hesitate to share your reviews, no matter how short. Writers crave them. When they finally arrive we feast on them, get drunk on them, and crave more.
*I omitted personal detail – if the gentleman wanted to make them public himself he would have posted his thoughts somewhere on Amazon or Goodreads, though perhaps he is unfamiliar with those platforms.