My grateful thanks to Emily at The Dome Press for my advance review copy and for inviting me to join the blog tour to celebrate the publication of Adrian Magson’s latest book, Smart Moves. I have a two-for-one deal for you today – a guest post from Adrian all about why he decided to write a standalone book, and my review of Smart Moves.
If you want to make your own ‘smart move’ – and why wouldn’t you? – you can find purchase links below.
About the Book
International troubleshooter Jake Foreman loses his job, house and wife all in one day. And when an impulsive move lands him in even deeper water – the kind that could lose him his life – he decides it’s time to make some smart decisions.
The trouble is, knowing the right moves and making them is a whole different game. And Jake, who has been happily rubbing along things he always suspected were just a shade away from being dodgy, finds it all too easy to go with the flow.
Now he’s got to start learning new tricks. If he doesn’t, he could end up dead.
Format: Paperback, ebook (288 pp.) Publisher: The Dome Press
Published: 16th August 2018 Genre: Thriller, adventure, crime
Publisher (buy direct for 30% off & free postage) | Amazon.co.uk ǀ Amazon.com ǀ Hive.co.uk (supporting UK bookshops)
*links provided for convenience, not as part of any affiliate programme
Find Smart Moves on Goodreads
Guest Post by Adrian Magson: Why A Standalone?
After 22 books and being asked, ‘Is this a series?’, I finally got the urge to say, ‘No – it’s a standalone. And it’s going to be light-hearted.’
At the time I had five series behind me, with lead characters like Riley Gavin, a tough female crime reporter; Harry Tate, a former MI5 officer; Marc Portman, a spy’s best friend in tight situations; Ruth Gonzales, a private security company investigator; and Inspector Lucas Rocco, a French detective in 1960s rural Picardie. Every one serious in tone, albeit with hints of humour here and there. But light-hearted? No.
Was I biting off more than I could chew?
Writing a series was what I liked doing; after each book I could switch to one of the other series or write the next in line. It was familiar writing territory. It didn’t necessarily make the physical task any easier, but I knew what I was dealing with. All I had to do was switch character hats.
But a standalone? Write a story where there wasn’t going to be a sequel? Moreover, could I write one which was more humorous than my other books?
What the heck, of course I could. It’s what I do. And Smart Moves was what I had in mind.
Most of my main characters are in tough professions – fighting crime or in the spying game – where knowing what they’re doing is essential for survival. Cops and reporters have to tread a fine path between good and bad, while spies and their helpers can’t relax for a moment because there’s always someone watching, and danger is never far away.
But how about a character who wasn’t so controlled, whose job as an international corporate trouble-shooter, rather than the gun-carrying kind, had allowed things to slip out of his grasp, until he suddenly had nothing – no wife, no house, no job… and not much of a glimmer about how it had happened?
Jake Foreman isn’t inept or uncaring; he’s just become so focussed on work that essential things like life, love and smelling the coffee have eased into the background, leaving him adrift.
I thoroughly enjoyed writing Jake’s story. No need to think about a follow-on; tying up ends loosely or otherwise; and having a laugh along the way, instead of keeping it serious.
I hope readers like the change. If they do, who knows, I might try another one someday.
© Adrian Magson
The title of the book, Smart Moves, is ironic, intentionally so, as initially Jake seems to make nothing but unsmart moves that put him in the bad books of some pretty nasty characters. His self-confessed ‘three wise monkeys’ approach of asking no questions has, up until now, seen him successfully through a career as a troubleshooter in some distinctly unsavoury situations. But is it quite so wise in the position in which he finds himself now?
When he finds himself thrown out of his house by his wife, he turns to brother, Marcus, and old friend, Hugo. Unfortunately, their best-intentioned advice and introductions only land Jake in more hot water. And soon it’s getting hotter by the minute. Luckily, he finally encounters someone made of ‘sterner stuff’, someone able – and willing – to help him out. Together, it turns out they might make a great partnership.
Smart Moves is a lot of fun, largely because Jake is a thoroughly likeable and engaging character with a nice line in self-deprecating humour. In fact, sardonic humour is a key feature of the book. A couple of my favourites:
[Jake, encountering his nosy neighbour, Mrs Tree, outside his now empty house] ‘Seeing her reminded me of driving across a patch of the Namib desert and spotting vultures circling over the remains of a dead zebra. I knew how the zebra must have felt.’
[Jake, on his wife, Susan] ‘One thing I’d learned very early in our relationship was that Susan didn’t do rough. Her idea of an adventure holiday was having to switch on the air con herself.’
The author is clearly a skilled writer because he keeps the story moving along nicely, increasing the pace in the final third of the book to keep the reader turning the pages. He also has a deft touch when it comes to great opening and closing lines of chapters.
Smart Moves has all the characteristics of a great crime caper movie: likeable hero, witty dialogue, well-paced story, a few narrow escapes from the bad guys, a bit of fisticuffs and the occasional romantic encounter for our leading man. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Given the ending of the book and, despite the declarations to the contrary by Adrian in his guest post above, he has cleverly left things sufficiently open so there could be another outing for Jake Foreman if he so desired… I think there may be many readers of Smart Moves who will positively demand it.
I received a review copy courtesy of publishers, The Dome Press, in return for an honest and unbiased review.
In three words: Pacy, witty, adventure
Try something similar…Poor Boy Road by James L. Weaver (read my review here)
About the Author
Adrian Magson – ‘a classic crime star in the making’ (Daily Mail) – is the author of 22 crime and spy thrillers, a ghost novel and Write On! – a writers’ help book. His latest novels are Rocco and the Nightingale (Oct 2017), the fifth in the Inspector Lucas Rocco series set in 1960s France, and Smart Moves (Aug 2018), a standalone novel. Both are published by The Dome Press. When not writing books, he’s a reviewer for Shots Magazine and writes the ‘Beginners’ and ‘New Author’ pages for Writing Magazine (UK).
Adrian lives in the Forest of Dean and rumours that he is building a nuclear bunker are unfounded. It’s a bird’s table.
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