Review: Stealing People by Robert Wilson

9781409148203Charlie Boxer returns in one of Robert Wilson’s best novels to date.

Two years after the events of You Will Never Find Me Charlie Boxer’s life is nearing some normalcy. Normal for a kidnap consultant whose services offer a little bit extra revenge on the side. His relationships with his ex-wife Mercy and daughter Amy are back on track and his relationship with Isabel is blossoming. However things are about to get very complicated, very fast.

The children of six billionaires have all been kidnapped within the space of 24 hours across London by a highly organized group. No ransom is asked for, only money to cover “expenses”. Mercy leads the investigation into the kidnappings but also finds that she has been personally compromised by the kidnappers and the only person she can turn to for help is Charlie.  As Mercy and Charlie come at events from their different sides of the fence they soon realize there is more at stake that just the hostages especially with certain intelligence agencies seemingly pulling all the strings.

There are so many fantastic elements to this story. Big business, politics, war and how they are each  inseparable from the other.  Robert Wilson brings all his talent as a supreme thriller writer to bear in the tightly-plotted, fast paced, addictive page-turner. After setting the first two Charlie Boxer novels back-to-back we get to see more of Charlie’s character develop. Wilson gives us an emotional side that is much more complex that the one we think from the first two books in the series. At the same time Wilson keeps us guessing all the way to climatic end and then some.

Charlie Boxer is fast becoming one of my favourite characters and one of my favourite crime series. I couldn’t put this down and I can’t wait to see where the series goes next.

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Review – An Untamed State by Roxane Gay

9781472120151One of the most uncompromising, unflinching, page-turning books I have read in a long time. It is a harrowing story that forces you to confront and challenge many important issues; gender, poverty, race and class to list but a few.

Mireille is visiting her Haitian parents in Port-au-Prince with her American husband and baby son when their car is stopped and Mireille is kidnapped. Her kidnappers demand a ransom from her wealthy father who refuses to pay. What follows is thirteen days of horror and deprivation.

The novel is told in two distinct parts; before and after. During Mireille’s horrific ordeal we get flashbacks to her life before; her childhood growing up in America, the wealth her family enjoy and the story of how she met and fell in love with her husband. Interspersed with the flashbacks is Mirelle’s father and husband’s story as they come into conflict over what should be done to get Mireille back. And all the time Mireille must endure the torment of her captors.

Roxane Gay does not take a backward step throughout the novel. You are forced to confront, firstly what her captors do to her and what this means for Mireille afterwards. Mireille must change herself to survive, she must bury her humanity to somehow protect it. She is broken mentally and physically and must somehow find a way to put herself back together, if that is even possible, a recover what humanity she has left. Gay’s portrayal of the post traumatic stress Mireille suffers is as honest, raw and emotional as the trauma she experiences.

While what happens to Mireille is confronting Roxane Gay uses this to open your eyes to other aspects we should also confront. She challenges us as a reader to explore the way we think about gender, race and class. Gender is at the heart of the violence that is done to Mirielle but the cause is wealth and poverty with everyone’s perceptions clouded by race.

This a novel that will shock you, surprise you and make you rethink your view of the world and the people in it. It is exactly what all great fiction should do and does so with style, honesty and empathy. It will strike a nerve, it will make you angry and break your heart and is a novel you will never forget, and nor should you.

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Review – You Will Never Find Me by Robert Wilson

9781409143161Robert Wilson is a master thriller writer and he proves it again with his new novel. You Will Never Find Me picks up right where Capital Punishment ended which is a challenge in itself. Wilson give himself no time to ease into the story, reintroduce characters or build tension and still pulls off an exceptional page-turner.

At the end of Capital Punishment kidnap consultant Charlie Boxer and DI Mercy Danquah return home to find that their daughter has left home. She has completely erased herself from their lives taking not just her possessions but every photo and any trace of herself. All she has left is a note which finishes “you will never find me”.

Things have not been good between Mercy and her daughter and Charlie’s job means he has hardly been there for his daughter for the past ten years. But both their jobs mean that they aren’t going to let Amy just go. The trail leads them to Madrid but it maybe already too late.. Meanwhile Mercy’s job gives her no time or space to take stock and she is quickly thrown into a kidnapping of a Russian businessman’s son which may have connections to Russia’s secret intelligence agency, the FSB.

Wilson juggles the two story-lines with expert ease never once dimming the pace or the tension of the story. Charlie Boxer is one of Wilson’s most complex characters and we are still only just scratching the surface of his persona which I hope means there are more books featuring him to come.

If you haven’t read Robert Wilson before the Charlie Boxer series is a great place to start and I can guarantee you will be diving into his previous work straight after.

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Review – Capital Punishment by Robert Wilson

9781409139027I am a huge Robert Wilson fan. From the dark and sweltering Bruce Medway series set in West Africa to the dark and bloody Javier Falcón series set in Seville, Wilson’s thrillers have always been a perfect blend of atmosphere, tension and dark secrets from the past. So for his new thriller he enters new territory; London.

Setting his book in a seemingly non-exotic location at first appears to signal a new direction for Robert Wilson but that allusion is quickly put to bed. Wilson immediately turns the tension meter to 11 as we dive straight into an intricate kidnap plot. London may not be an exotic location but it is the world’s hub and Wilson takes us to Lisbon, Mumbai and Pakistan as he constantly ramps up the stakes and keeps everyone guessing.

Frank de Cruz is an ex-Bollywood star turned successful and ruthless businessman. His list of enemies is long so when his daughter Alysia is kidnapped in London the motive is unclear and the list of potential suspects stretches far and wide. The police aren’t to be involved so Frank brings in a specialist kidnap “consultant”, Charles Boxer. But it soon becomes clear than this isn’t about money. This is about power, influence and secrets and the kidnappers will do anything to extract them as well as keep them.

Wilson blends psychological intensity, constant action with a brilliantly intricate plot that will leave you gasping after the final page.

Read an extract from the book

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