Welcome to today’s stop on the blog tour for Don’t Get Involved by F J Curlew. My thanks to the author for inviting me to take part in the tour and for my review copy.
About the Book
A missing shipment of cocaine. Three street-kids fighting for their lives. A mafia hit-man intent on killing them. A naive expat who gets in their way.
Who would you bet on?
Ukraine, 2001. A time of lawlessness and corruption. Three street-kids stumble upon a holdall full of cocaine belonging to the Mafia. Mafia hitman, Leonid, is given the job of retrieving the cocaine and disposing of the street-kids. To do so he is forced to step back into his old life and he doesn’t like it. The children run on their wits. Leonid hunts them down.
Nadia, a young woman with her own dark past, arrives in Ukraine looking for a fresh start. She wasn’t expecting this! “She had no idea of what, or who, she was supposed to be running from. Right now everything was a threat. Definitely militsiya, but who else? Everyone. Right now it felt like everyone.”
Format: ebook (255 pp.) Publisher:
Publication date: 7th October 2019 Genre: Thriller
Find Don’t Get Involved on Goodreads
Having read and reviewed the author’s previous book, Dan Knew, I was pleased to receive her invitation to read her latest book, Don’t Get Involved, and take part in the blog tour.
The events in Don’t Get Involved unfold over the course of a year with the book frequently switching points of view and timeline, the latter in sections entitled ‘Winter’, ‘Summer’ and ‘Autumn’. I’ll confess it took me a while to get to grips with the narrative structure and work out the order in which events were occurring.
The street-kids – Dima, and brother and sister, Sasha and Alyona – eke out a hand to mouth existence on the edge of Ukrainian society, living in dilapidated buildings and being drawn into illicit activities that bring them into contact with unsavoury individuals. Just how unsavoury becomes increasingly apparent as the book progresses. The streetwise Dima is the de facto leader of the trio. Sasha is very protective of his sister, Alyona, who possesses a sixth sense for danger and has a curious affinity with animals. Alyona’s instincts will prove pivotal in events towards the end of the book.
The reader gradually learns about the traumatic events in Nadia’s life that have caused her to seek a new start in Kiev. There she meets Artem and we see their relationship gradually develop. One very moving episode – a detour from the main storyline – is when Artem takes Nadia to visit his grandfather, Bogdan. The story Bogdan tells is a harrowing insight into Ukraine’s troubled history during Stalin’s rule. I did think it would make superb material for a book in its own right.
The author has a distinctive writing style characterised by the use of short sentences, often only a few words long. This certainly helps to create a sense of urgency and tension in some of the action scenes and to emphasise the confused thought processes of key characters.
The book provides a fascinating insight into Ukraine – its culture, food, music – and the city of Kiev in particular with its streets full of cafes, bars and street kiosks. I do think a glossary would be a useful addition to the book.
Don’t Get Involved combines elements of a thriller with an insight into the history and culture of Ukraine…and a dash of magical realism. You can find out more about the inspiration for the book in the author’s guest post hosted by Mairead at Swirl and Thread earlier in the blog tour.
I received an advance review copy courtesy of the author.
In three words: Intriguing, dramatic, atmospheric
Try something similar: The Good Father by S. R. Wilsher (read my review here)
About the Author
Fiona spent fifteen years working as an international school teacher, predominantly in Eastern Europe. Much of her inspiration comes from her travels. Her writing has been described as, “Human experience impacted upon by political situation, interwoven with a love of nature.”
She now lives on the East Coast of Scotland with Brockie the Springer and Fingal the rescued Portuguese street-cat. Her days are divided between dog-walking in beautiful places and working on her stories. Not a bad life! Don’t Get Involved is her third book.