Throwback Thursday: No Ordinary Killing by Jeff Dawson


Throwback Thursday is a weekly meme created by Renee at It’s Book Talk.  It’s designed as an opportunity to share old favourites as well as books that we’ve finally got around to reading that were published over a year ago.

Today I’m revisiting a book I reviewed in March 2017 – No Ordinary Killing by Jeff Dawson.  Originally published by Endeavour Press in March 2017, it was reissued by Canelo in May 2018 with a new cover.

I really enjoyed No Ordinary Killing, as you will see from my review below.  I wasn’t the only one impressed either.  Sarah Ward, author of A Patient Fury, said: ‘Dawson has produced a strong thriller with something to say… An intriguing mix of John Buchan style adventuring and well researched period detail, full of superstition, mistrust and political intrigue… A very strong debut.’  Regular followers of this blog will know of my passion for John Buchan so any comparison to his adventure novels is high praise indeed in my book.

The Cold North SeaYou’ll also understand my excitement when I saw that Jeff has written a sequel, The Cold North Sea, (due to be published by Canelo on 3rd December) and my delight when I was approved for an advance reader copy on NetGalley.

The Cold North Sea is available to pre-order from Amazon UK.

No Ordinary Killing NewAbout No Ordinary Killing

The Empire has a deadly secret…

1899, South Africa: As the Boer War rages, Captain Ingo Finch of the Royal Army Medical Corps pieces together casualties at the front. Then, recovering in Cape Town, he is woken by local police. A British officer has been murdered, and an RAMC signature is required for the post-mortem.

Shocked by the identity of the victim, the bizarre nature of the crime and what appears a too-convenient resolution, Finch turns detective. He is soon thrust into a perilous maze of espionage and murder.

Along with an Australian nurse, Annie, and an escaped diamond miner, Mbutu, Finch finds he has stumbled on a terrifying secret, one that will shake the Empire to its core…

Format: ebook (401 pp.)    Publisher: Canelo
Published: 28th May 2018     Genre: Historical Fiction, Crime, Mystery

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Find No Ordinary Killing on Goodreads

My Review

This is an impressive debut with a convincing period setting and a strong narrative full of twists and turns as the plot unfolds against the background of the Boer War.  The “no ordinary killing” of the title refers to the death of an army colleague of the protagonist, Captain Ingo Finch.

The story is told both from his point of view and from the point of view of Mbutu Kefaleze, a native runner (and to a lesser extent, Annie Jones, a volunteer nurse).   I found the story line involving Mbutu was particularly well told and engaging.   Although she plays an important part in events in the latter half of the book, I would have liked the character of Annie Jones to have been developed further with the reader given more from her point of view.

The different strands of the story run in parallel with the reader left to guess at the connection between them until the point the author chooses to reveal it.   The mystery is skilfully sustained right to the end of the book with plenty of action, intrigue, red herrings, secrets, murder, lies and “who can you really trust?” moments along the way.

The plot positively zips along helped by the alternating points of view and relatively short chapters usually ending with an element of suspense.  I particularly liked the walk-on part for the creator of a famous detective.    This is a very enjoyable historical mystery with an interesting period setting.

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In three words: Well-researched, action-packed, mystery

Try something similar…The Price of Compassion by A. B. Michaels (read my review here)

Jeff Dawson CaneloAbout the Author

Jeff Dawson is a journalist, author and screenwriter. He has been the US Editor of Empire magazine and a long-time feature writer for The Sunday Times’ Culture section. His non-fiction books include an approved biography of Quentin Tarantino; the football history Back Home (“Truly outstanding” — The Times), and WW2 shipwreck tale, Dead Reckoning, nominated for the Mountbatten Maritime Prize. No Ordinary Killing is his first novel. (Photo credit: Canelo author page)

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