Book Review: The Good Father by S. R. Wilsher

TheGoodFatherAbout the Book

In 1994, nine year old Effie and her twelve year old brother Ajan, endure the horrors of life in the besieged city of Sarajevo after the loss of their parents. Desperate to help preserve their city, Ajan becomes involved with a criminal gang among the makeshift defenders. When Effie is forced to flee alone, she must survive long enough to reach those outside of the city who have come to help. But the influence of those pursuing her is such that not even the soldiers of the UN might be able to save her. Any hope of a future for Effie eventually lies with only one man, Captain Nathan Lane.

It is 2017, and an attempt is made on the life of Foreign Secretary, Caroline Hardy. As the Security Services hunt for her attacker, the reality she is only a bit part player in the affair doesn’t occur to anyone. Not until her daughter, Mia goes missing and is implicated in the disappearance of a well-connected lawyer. As the focus switches to Mia, a secret that Caroline has kept hidden for a long time threatens them both, until there becomes only one place she can turn, to the man who shares her secret.

Format: ebook (434 pp.)                   Publisher:
Published: 27th April 2017               Genre: Contemporary Fiction, Thriller

Purchase Links*
Amazon.co.uk  ǀ  Amazon.com
*links provided for convenience, not as part of any affiliate programme

Find The Good Father on Goodreads


My Review

Recent events in Syria have brought to the fore the legitimacy and efficacy of countries intervening in conflicts in another sovereign state, even if only for humanitarian reasons.    This came to mind as I was reading the opening scenes of the book set in the Bosnian conflict in the 1990s, during which terrible atrocities were committed.  The author convincingly portrays the devastation wrought by the bombing of Sarajevo and the effect on the population: the constant risk from snipers, homes reduced to rubble, public services including hospitals destroyed, and those inhabitants who remain struggling to find enough food and shelter to keep themselves alive.

‘Each season throws up its impossible challenges.  People die from cold in the winter.  While in summer they die from complacency. Food and water and shelter are issues every day irrespective of where the sun sits in the sky.  The snipers and the artillery are indifferent to the time of year.  Death enjoys every day.’  

In particular, the story focuses on the children affected by the conflict, many of them orphans left to fend for themselves or join feral gangs, open to exploitation.  If they survive it’s because they have learned to steal, trust no-one and fight for their lives if necessary.  It’s a chilling picture of stolen youth brought vividly to life through the characters of Effie and her brother, Ajan.

The action moves ahead twenty-three years and, in what initially seems to be a separate storyline, an assassination attempt is made on British Foreign Secretary, Caroline Hardy.  Both she and her daughter, Mia, who was in the car at the time it was forced off the road, escape with their lives although Mia is injured.  When a further incident occurs, Caroline begins to wonder if she was actually the intended target or if the answer lies in secrets from the past.  Some people, it seems, have long memories and, as the saying goes, revenge is a dish best served cold.

Caroline enlists the investigative assistance of Nathan Lane, a former army officer, who shares her secret.   It’s not long before Nathan realises the case is more complex than it first appeared and the would-be assassin is not the only person motivated by revenge for past events.  As well as following Nathan’s investigation, the reader is given an insight into Mia’s life in the weeks leading up to the assassination attempt.  The book builds to an action-packed conclusion by which time I was convinced that if I’m ever in trouble, I want a Nathan Lane in my life. (And not only if I’m in trouble, I confess.)

I feel bad it’s taken me so long to get round to reading The Good Father, not only because the author has been patiently awaiting my review but because I’ve deprived myself of a really entertaining thriller.  The Good Father also scores points for having the first mention of Brexit and its implications I’ve come across in a book. You can read the interview I conducted last year with S. R. Wilsher about the book and his writing journey here

Thank you to the author for my review copy in return for an honest and unbiased review. 

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In three words: Compelling, action-packed, suspenseful

Try something similar…The Last Train by Michael Pronko (click here for my review)


SRWilsherAbout the Author

S. R. Wilsher writes: “I began writing when I was twenty, even though I was uncertain that I had a book in me. And I was so afraid of being a failed writer that, for a very long time, nobody knew I wrote. I’ve dealt with that fear of failing by always continuing to write. I figure that if I keep going I’ve not failed yet.

I resisted self-publishing for years, having grown up in an era where the only alternative to traditional publishing was vanity publishing. But, eventually, I decided to stop hiding inside a bubble of rewriting based only on second-guessing rejection letters, and accepted that the traditional route was closed to me. The thirty years of rejections might have been trying to tell me something, but they rarely spelled out whether I should write or not. I hoped self-publishing would supply that answer. That’s why I’m always grateful for reviews, as they encourage me to keep trying.

However, I continue to write for no other reason than I enjoy it deeply. I like the challenge of making a story work. I get a thrill from tinkering with the structure, of creating characters that I care about, and of manipulating a plot that unravels unpredictably yet, hopefully, logically. I like to write myself into a corner and then see how I can escape. To me, writing is a puzzle I like to spend my time trying to solve. Publication is the deep sigh of setting the completed puzzle aside. The marketing bit beyond that is something else entirely!”

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3 thoughts on “Book Review: The Good Father by S. R. Wilsher

    1. Possibly, although I’m not sure how attractive that will be to readers! To be fair, there’s only a passing reference in this book but it does relate to a small element of the plot. Perhaps, rather than specific references, it may be authors explore issues thrown up by Brexit – the UK’s place in the world, attitudes to people from other countries, and so on.

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