Fiction with an edge

Friday, 24 August 2012


THE MESSENGER will be available for FREE download - Saturday 25th & Sunday 26th August 2012.
The Messenger is a full on thriller with a mysterious twist. And while military novels are not my usual fare, I got on board with Jack Chandler when he entered the Land of Souls. John E. White skilfully weaves the two worlds together in the way Stephen King does, but without the fantasy tag. Amid tense Harrison Ford style action is the deeper `what does happen to war dead?' Tight, thought-provoking and a great read. You won't think the same about war again.
John's novel has all the ingredients one would expect in an adventure story - a well researched and developed plot, believable characters in reader friendly and accessible prose. It's also pacey containing exciting action scenes within a contemporary and highly relevant political and historical setting.

This is not all however, in a layered narrative, The Messenger fuses the genres of thriller, adventure and the supernatural to excellent effect. This novel is a thoughtful critique of politics, economics and war.
By jaycole
John White's intriguing anti-war thriller 'The Messenger' works on more than one level. As an exciting story with believable characters it carries you along in the way you expect from writers like Lee Child and Matt Hilton. And the military scenes, while not full-on Andy McNab, are pumping with action and well-researched authenticity. But it's the third dimension that makes this book stand out. Lots of people (probably lots of soldiers) who have had near-death experiences will be intrigued by Jack Chandler's visions and doubts. PTSD, paranoia, brain-washing? Or something else? Read it and make up your own mind.
A thrilling read
A great read with a great message skilfully handled. The suggestion of a sixth sense but leaving the reader to interpret that in their own way made it intriguing for me.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

The 'c' word

"Where did that come from?"
"Who could have seen that coming?"
Those sorts of phrases (and there will be others - like how "Life sometimes bites you on the arse when you least expect it") tend to focus the attention. One minute you can be seated reasonably comfortably riding the bus along life's freeway, staring at the problems of others passing by and wondering how they cope, and then Wham! something comes out of the blue, smacks you in the mouth and throws you off the bus. Suddenly you're in the road trying to dodge the traffic while it motors on without you.
It's then that you begin to realise what you had - and what you now don't have - your reasonably comfortable seat has gone!    
You pick yourself up and start running in the hope that you can get back onto the bus, but things get in the way - doctor's appointments - specialists - intrusive fingers - cystoscopes. 
And then, while you're lying on a hospital couch with your trousers and pants around your knees, shirt rolled up, the query "Tumour?" appears in the air almost as a rhetorical question between professionals.
Your gaze which, until now, has been trying to look past the nurse and consultant to the examination room's white ceiling, flicks from one to another, waiting. Nothing is said.
    You are are invited to  get dressed.
    As you wipe some wet, mildly anaesthetic, jelly substance off your genitals with a green paper towel you wonder if you misheard? Should I ask? Maybe it isn't. Maybe it is. You take a breath, 'Are we talking cancer here?' you ask hoping he is going to laugh and say "No, of course not". 
    He nods. 'Yes - you have a cancerous tumour in your bladder.'
    He begins making notes and suggesting courses of action, but your mind's not taking it in. The 'c' word has taken control. You stare into your hands. What are you going to tell your wife - your children - grandchildren?  
    'It's superficial.'
    His words lift your gaze.
    'A small tumour,' he explains. 
    Is that good? Is small good? He doesn't answer your thoughts. You look to the nurse - she's talking to you. Follow her into her office. You get up, thank the consultant. Why do we do that? Thank the person who has just told you that you have cancer?
    It's not his fault. 
    Is it mine? Did I do something wrong? 
    As you walk into the nurse's office you realise you didn't get all the jelly off your balls - you're walking like you've peed yourself. 
    She runs through your future - ticks sections in a book, a book about cancer - superficial bladder cancer. Tells you what to expect. Dye tests - to check your kidneys, urinary track. Radioactive liquid tests, to scan your bones.
    Shit, what if it's gone into my bones? Is that why my shoulder has been painful for weeks? Has going to the physio been a waste of time? She reads my wide-eyed expression and reassures me that all these tests will be completed quickly. And they are.
    Two weeks later a gentle voice on the telephone advises, 'Your operation is programmed for Aug 20th.'

 So readers, I'll catch you after the surgeon's knife has done its work.

Saturday, 11 August 2012

Olympic Mind Games

I wonder how many people will have looked at the billions of pounds spent on the Olympics in London and thought to themselves: 'Just think of the good that money could do for  ... (insert cause of choice)'?
I was one of them. I had reservations about that amount of money being thrown at this event - especially in these times of austerity when so many of the population are having to tighten their belts to the degree it is making their eyes pop out. Then there was the G4S scandal - when the company's contractual undertaking, to supply security staff was, at the final hurdle, found wanting to the degree that the Government had to deploy military personnel to ensure the necessary amount of trained people were available. As for the promised ongoing benefit to tourism over the next few years, that is a target we will not know we have exceeded / achieved / fallen short of - until those years have passed - and, by then, it will be too late to do anything about it. Then we have to wonder what is going to happen to the buildings erected to house the competitors / officials etc., will they be allotted to those who need them or sold off to those who can pay the highest price? 
Having said all that, as a non-participating sports person, (watching rugby on TV aside) I have been engrossed from the opening ceremony. How many other countries understood the 'Britishness' of it remains to be seen, but it was colourful and told a tale of this green and pleasant land - despite Paul McCartney's strained and quaking voice (I have always been a Beatles fan, but wheeling out Paul for every national event is not doing him any favours). Anyway, like I said,  essentially as a non-participating sports person there have been several elements that have had me glued to the athletics, swimming, rowing, sailing, boxing, volleyball - the list is endless! I have even been mesmerised by the equestrian events and BMX racing! In all of these sports I have been struck by something incredibly heartwarming - the humility of the winners. I mention here the case of a totally exhausted and emotionally drained Zak Purchase and Mark Hunter who apologised to the nation for only winning Silver in the Mens' Double Sculls. These guys worked their balls off and yet they felt they had let down the nation - rather puts obscenely overpaid prima donna footballers into perspective doesn't it? I know who I would rather have as a role model for our young people.
Thinking about role models - these sportsmen and women have engendered an enthusiasm, for a huge range  of sports, that the Government must not let lie fallow - especially in these days of obesity - in children in particular. It needs to capitalise on this wave of interest by investing in sports clubs and facilities that are not elitist or out of reach financially of our youngsters or their parents. Maybe those bankers who got us into this fiscal mess and earned obscene bonuses on the back of ordinary folk and small businesses might like to invest that money in our youth. It might go someway toward  redeeming them in the eyes of the rest of us.

The Olympic Games end tomorrow - and if they are to leave any legacy for our young people then it must be one of action by Government (and bankers?).