Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Col Bury's Crime Fiction Choice...

This time, as my Guests' Crime Fiction Choices are more than adequately covering the many excellent short stories out there, I thought I'd recommend a stonker of a novel I recently enjoyed in just three sittings. Hence, the longer than usual write up...

Col Bury's Crime Fiction Choice #18 - MAXWELL'S SILVER HAMMER by Andy Rivers

To be honest, when I saw the title I wasn't overly enthused. Then I realised it was a song by The Beatles, which pricked my curiosity. I'm so glad it did, as I learned a lot from this book about characterisation.

Maxwell's Silver Hammer is a unique take on life in a tough northern city, in this case Newcastle, and is like no other novel I've read. It reminded me of 'CRASH', the Oscar-winning 2004 film, where several characters' stories were so effectively interwoven. Between sittings, I wanted to ditch everything and find out how the characters were doing.

Being a 'plot-driven' kind of writer myself (but that may change after reading this book), I was somewhat taken aback by Andy's no nonsense writing style and at how he, brashly, used the characters to drive the book forward. It was really intriguing to see how it all panned out, because the author, somehow, got me empathising and caring about the characters early on.

Another thing that struck me was, initially, flicking from one person to another - sixteen in total - I wondered if Andy had made a monumental mistake, because I'd always thought it best to have a protagonist, an antagonist and a few peripheral players. However, I'm pleased to say that Andy's prowess shined through and he came up trumps.

The plot is, paradoxically, both simple and complex. Simple in that, the basic storyline surrounds reformed tough guy, Billy Reeves, and his lifelong rivalry with Newcastle's top man, Vince Merry. When those closest to Billy are under threat, the beast within him is unleashed. Yet the complexity involves the skillful linking-in of all the characters, and you soon realise why each and everyone of them were relevant to the overall story.

With a fast pace, gritty edge, extremely strong sense of place and laugh out loud humour, and an ending that finally made me realise why the title was chosen in a 'goosebump moment', I implore you to buy this cracking book here.

I tip my hat to Mr Rivers.

Andy Rivers has been a Butlins barman, pretend chippieon a Spanish construction site, coach holiday rep, mobile sandwich salesman and outdoor traffic cone washer to name but a few of his eclectic 'career' choices. Originally from the East End of Newcastle he now lives in Oxfordshire where, as well as following Newcastle United around the country, he passes the time by indulging in his passion for ‘Professional Geordie-ism’ and lager. This is his first novel but he is also the author of ‘I’m Rivelino’, also published by Byker Books, a hilarious account of the thirty odd years of hurt he has suffered at the hands of the Magpies. With the royalties from this book he plans on buying a Ferrari and having a proper mid-life crisis.


Sean Patrick Reardon said...

This is the kind of writing and story style I really love. Cannot wait to check it out. Excellent review Col.

Col Bury said...

Cheers, Sean. Bit longer than my usual, but had to really - it's a stonker!!!

Sean Patrick Reardon said...

Col- Do you know if you can you buy books from Amazon UK if you live in US? Wish it was available as an ebook, would be easier ;)

Col Bury said...

As far as I know they ship worldwide. Just go through the order form and check out the details 'n' it'll become clearer. You'll love this one, mate.

David Barber said...

Great review, Col. Sounds a little cracker. I'll be looking out for it.

(P.s. Just finished a fantastic book. I'm going to attempt my first book review. Not my normal read but a must for all crime/thriller/noir writers. I'll be posting it very soon)

Sean Patrick Reardon said...

Thanks, Checking it out now, can't wait!

Paul D. Brazill said...

Yep, it's a beaut. I love multi POV writing.It's a deffo for you, Sean.

Ian Ayris said...

Read it in two days. Wasn't sure about the multiple POV thing to begin with, but it's handled so well and so effectively, it didn't take long to get into it.

I did a review of the book on my blog awhile here :


if anyone fancies something to add to Col's excellent piece.

Top stuff, Col. Great choice.

Col Bury said...

Cheers, chaps.

You're a tease, I'm intrigued.

Knew this one would be your cuppa tea!

Just read your take - top stuff.

Anonymous said...

This sounds fascinating. You are becoming quite the reviewer.

Col Bury said...

Thanks, Jeanette.

Anthony Cowin said...

Great review Col. The multi POV is a difficult task to not only write but read. When somebody pulls it off I'm always amazed.

I like the title too, being a huge Beatles fan I'm kinda contracted to say that though. I always thought the lyrics to that song would make a nasty short story, so using the title brings an inbuilt darkness to anything else it is used for.

I'll keep a look out for the book. Thanks, Tony.

Col Bury said...

Cheers, Toe.
You won't be disappointed.