#BlogTour #BookReview Outcast by Chris Ryan @rararesources @ZaffreBooks

OutcastWelcome to today’s stop on the blog tour for Outcast by Chris Ryan. My thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me to take part in the tour and to Zaffre for my digital review copy via NetGalley.  Do check out the posts by my tour buddies for today, Nat at The Pursuit of Bookiness and Jo at Bookmadjo.


OutcastAbout the Book

After single-handedly intervening in a deadly terrorist attack in Mali, SAS Warrant Officer Jamie ‘Geordie’ Carter is denounced as a lone wolf by jealous superiors.

Now a Regiment outcast, Carter is given a second chance with a deniable mission: locate SAS hero-gone-rogue, David Vann.

Vann had been sent into Afghanistan to train local rebels to fight the Taliban. But he’s since gone silent and expected attacks on key targets have not happened.

Tracking Vann through Afghanistan and Tajikistan, Carter not only discovers the rogue soldier’s involvement in a conspiracy that stretches far beyond the Middle East – but an imminent attack that will have deadly consequences the world over . . .

Format: Hardback (304 pages)     Publisher: Zaffre
Publication date: 12th May 2022 Genre: Thriller

Find Outcast on Goodreads

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Hive | Amazon UK
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My Review

Fasten your seat belts, we’re about to go on one helluva ride!

What do you want from a thriller? Plenty of action scenes? Good guys who just might be bad guys? Bad guys who are really bad? More action scenes? A race against time pursuit? A scenario where all the odds are against the hero making it out alive?  A protagonist who’s seemingly invincible? A main character with an interesting back story? Well, in that case, Outcast is the book for you!

The up-to-the minute plot set in the aftermath of the US’s sudden and disorganised withdrawal from Afghanistan makes it feel incredibly timely and relevant. It’s a situation where an official Western military presence has been replaced by embedded Special Forces agents whose actions are deniable if things go wrong. And they do. Enter Carter…

I loved that the author doesn’t make Carter a mere killing machine. He’s a man who never knew his father, grew up in a council flat with his mother and a stepfather who was a violent drunk. Carter could have gone off the rails – indeed he did for a time- but joining the army and, eventually, the SAS saved him. It gave him a purpose and instilled discipline in him. In a way, the SAS Regiment has become his pseudo family, although he’s still solitary by nature. Of course, Carter is a killer but not one who kills for the sake of it.  His SAS training means he’s in peak physical condition. In the words of a girlfriend (actually an ex-girlfriend, silly girl) he possesses ‘muscles that looked as if they had been sculpted from a block of marble’. (Is it me, or is it hot in here?) His physical fitness is certainly tested in the course of the book which includes perilous border crossings and mad dashes along mountain paths in pursuit of an enemy who becomes more deadly by the minute.

As I’m not a member of the SAS (although, if I was, obviously I couldn’t tell you or, if I did, I’d have to kill you), I can’t judge how accurate the descriptions of weaponry, military hardware and tactics are but they convinced me. Given the author’s military background, you’d expect nothing less.

Outcast is a kick-ass, action-packed thriller that positively oozes authenticity. It’s the epitome of a page-turner and, although it’s very different from my usual diet of historical fiction, I really enjoyed it. I very much hope there will be a future mission for Carter. In the meantime, can he please go and take out Putin?

In three words: Action-packed, exciting, authentic

Try something similar: Betrayal by David Gilman

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Chris RyanAbout the Author

Chris Ryan was born in Newcastle. In 1984 he joined 22 SAS. After completing the year-long Alpine Guides Course, he was the troop guide for B Squadron Mountain Troop. He completed three tours with the anti-terrorist team, serving as an assaulter, sniper and finally Sniper Team Commander.

Chris was part of the SAS eight-man team chosen for the famous Bravo Two Zero mission during the 1991 Gulf War. He was the only member of the unit to escape from Iraq, where three of his colleagues were killed and four captured, for which he was awarded the Military Medal.

Chris wrote about his experiences in his book The One That Got Away, which became an immediate bestseller. Since then he has written over fifty books and presented a number of very successful TV programmes.

Connect with Chris
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#BlogTour #BookReview Little Drummer by Kjell Ola Dahl @RandomTTours

Little Drummer Graphic 1Welcome to today’s stop on the blog tour for Little Drummer by Kjell Ola Dahl, translated by Don Bartlett. My thanks to Anne at Random Things Tours for inviting me to take part in the tour and to Orenda for my digital review copy.

Do check out the post by my tour buddy for today, Monika at Monika Reads.


About the Book

When a woman is found dead in her car in a Norwegian parking garage, everyone suspects an overdose… until a forensics report indicates that she was murdered. Oslo Detectives Frølich and Gunnarstranda discover that the victim’s Kenyan scientist boyfriend has disappeared, and their investigations soon lead them into the shady world of international pharmaceutical deals.

While Gunnarstranda closes in on the killers in Norway, Frølich and Lise, his new journalist ally, travel to Africa, where they make a series of shocking discoveries about exploitation and corruption in the distribution of foreign aid and essential HIV medications.

When tragedy unexpectedly strikes, all three investigators face incalculable danger, spanning two continents. And not everyone will make it out alive…

Format: Paperback (276 pages)    Publisher: Orenda
Publication date: 26th May 2022 Genre: Crime

Find Little Drummer on Goodreads

Purchase links
Bookshop.org
Disclosure: If you buy a book via the above link, I may earn a commission from Bookshop.org, whose fees support independent bookshops

Hive | Amazon UK
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My Review

My first introduction to Oslo detectives Gunnarstranda and Frølich was in Faithless which I read back in 2017. (I also read the author’s historical crime novel, The Assistant, last year.) Although Little Drummer is the fourth book of the author’s Gunnarstranda and Frølich series to be published in English, it was first published in 2003 – hence the reference to passengers on an airplane watching films on overhead screens! It therefore pre-dates events in Faithless and the other two books in the series published by Orenda – Sister and The Ice Swimmer. (Do try to keep up.)  Although you would miss out on learning more about the backstories of Gunnarstranda and Frølich by not having read previous books (personally I remain unsure about the nature of Gunnarstranda’s relationship with Tove), I certainly think Little Drummer can be enjoyed as a standalone crime novel.

Initially an investigation into an apparent suicide that turns out to be murder, and a separate missing persons enquiry, it’s not long before Little Drummer is transformed from police procedural to international thriller as the action moves from Oslo to Kenya. Whilst pursuing separate lines of inquiry Gunnarstranda and Frølich gradually unearth a web of financial corruption involving insider dealing, the use of shell companies and speculation on risky ventures. When individuals are playing for such high stakes, those who might threaten their enterprise are expendable.

Gunnarstranda and Frølich slowly gather together the pieces of what becomes a frustratingly complex jigsaw. As Gunnarstranda remarks, ‘Following clues after a murder is like gathering the fragments of a dream. It’s all about finding pieces of some surrealistic act and trying to make them fit into a comprehensible picture’. It’s a puzzle which sees them forced to co-operate with others whose motives are not always clear. Frølich in particular finds himself in unfamiliar territory – and unexpected company – when he flies to Kenya to follow leads about the missing scientist.

What I really enjoy about the books is the partnership between Gunnarstranda and Frølich, both on a personal and professional level. Frølich, whilst pondering on his history of failed relationships, always keeps an eye out for his boss, trying to persuade Gunnarstranda to modify his unhealthy habits (even hiding his tobacco at one point). Little Drummer finds Gunnarstranda in particularly melancholy mood, pondering on his own mortality as his lifestyle shows signs of taking its toll. As he admits, he’s ‘a neurotic, work-obsessed, socially dysfunctional man with poor self-knowledge’, not to mention a chain smoker and a whisky drinker.

Although Gunnarstranda and Frølich’s investigation goes to some dark places, exposing some of the inequalities that exist in the world, there are also moments of humour. For example, when Frølich observes a guest at his hotel who is so drunk he passes out with his face in a plate of spaghetti or, my absolute favourite, the incessant, inane chatter of Frølich’s mother and her friend Edna when he gives them a lift in his car.

With its combination of intricate plot and exciting moments of drama, Little Drummer is a skilfully-crafted crime thriller that will keep you turning the pages.

In three words: Tense, dark, compelling

Try something similar: The Dark Flood by Deon Meyer

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DahlKjellOlaAbout the Author

One of the fathers of the Nordic Noir genre, Kjell Ola Dahl was born in 1958 in Gjøvik. He made his debut in 1993, and has since published thirteen novels, the most prominent of which is a series of police procedurals cum psychological thrillers featuring investigators Gunnarstranda and Frølich. In 2000 he won the Riverton Prize for The Last Fix and he won both the prestigious Brage and Riverton Prizes for The Courier in 2015. His work has been published in 14 countries, and he lives in Oslo.

Connect with Kjell
Twitter | Goodreads

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