The War Next Door

9 Jan

People say you should write what you know–so if you live in a suburb of Manchester, England, that’s where you set your world-changing spy story! But how do you turn suburban Britain into a international crime thriller?

Full disclosure–I was asked to review this novel by the author himself, and considering this is the third time I’ve done this, I’m… a little cautious about book reviews. As an indie author myself, I want to support my fellow writers, but I want to be honest, but polite. The first two books I read were absolutely awful–so I didn’t post those reviews here–but since this is appearing here, Salford World War doesn’t fall into that category. This is a solid book.

Okay, that isn’t glowing praise, but part of my problem with this book is that spy/mystery novels aren’t really my genre either. I don’t like puzzles, or figuring out whodunit, but I’ll enjoy watching the detective figure it out.

This book is fun–a young female spy who is stationed in Salford (instead of Manchester–why?) and is responsible for protecting a Chinese minister who’s visiting the town. However, not everything is as it seems. The Chinese immigrant community has one agenda, the Chinese government another, and her own agency (MI-5? It’s never said) seems out to get her. And what about her love for her fellow agent, who now can’t seem to give her the time of day? Has he gone rogue?

The characters are interesting, but there are a lot of them, and there is the implication that this character has met many of them before. Which leads to me a strike against me–this is obviously the third or four book in a series. Unfortunately, if you go to Mr. Scantlebury’s website, you have no idea what order the books are supposed to be in. I really wish I didn’t have to keep guessing what the previous job was that she was on with this guy, or what her relationship with the love interest was before this, or what she was doing when dating the guy before he was killed. If it was just to add flavor, fine, but it seemed an integral part of why I should care about this character.

However, I said there were a lot of characters, and even though they are interesting, they mostly show up for a scene, do their thing, and are never seen again. This is very frustrating–it goes along with why I don’t read short stories. If I’m going to invest my time in a novel, I want to care about what happens to the characters. The only two characters who are consistent are our heroine and the love interest… and even the love interest keeps flitting in and out, which seems rather rude.

I’m realizing that this review is running way over, so I’ll need to continue it tomorrow. Also, check out Mr. Scantlebury’s book for yourself–let me know what you think!

However, let me ask you–have you run into a book that you fundamentally like, but the flaws make it difficult to love? Let me know in the comments below!

2 Responses to “The War Next Door”

  1. Silk Cords January 10, 2021 at 3:11 pm #

    Sounds promising indeed. I’d agree that not knowing the series’ order is indeed a strike against it though.

    Also not sure what the cover art APPARENTLY depicting the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand has to do with the story, but I’m sure it ties in beyond the title. 🙂

    • albigensia January 11, 2021 at 6:14 am #

      The entire plot is the assassination attempt, not of Franz, but someone else important. Trust me, the author makes the connection abundantly clear. 🙄

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