by Lang Reid
Greed (ISBN 978-1-481-06833-8, self-published, 2013), is a first novel for
Aussie expatriate Michael Conlon, which came to me directly from the author.
For that alone, he scored brownie points with me. Firstly for completing a
book, and secondly being straightforward in approaching Mail and offering
his book for review. In some ways it is like lying on the sacrificial altar
and hoping the high priest gives you mercy, or a merciful ending!
One of the big problems with self-publishing as I see it, is lack of
critical proof reading. For example, the Italian car is an Alfa, not an
Alpha and it is spelled both ways. Another, “Mr. Snowden was a tall, kind,
small framed Englishman,” is confusing for the reader. Tall or small? All
these can be caught and corrected by a good sub-editor. Not that Conlan’s
book is littered with literals or downright mistakes, but for me, as a
reviewer, it is annoying to come across them.
Author Conlon has written a thriller, with plenty of steamy sex thrown in
probably to keep the reader interested. The setting is in the garment
industry, after the central character, Amanda Simmonds graduates from
university, but not before she manages to place one of her professors in a
Ms. Amanda, who comes from a very rich and well connected family becomes
manipulative and expects everyone to kowtow to her and her position in life,
both personally and in business.
Ms. Amanda, with an obsession for wealth and power is not reluctant to move
her business from an honest clothing company, to one which is not averse to
selling fake branded garments. These garments are made in one of the
sweatshops of Asia, in this case, in northern Thailand.
The usual excuses are trotted out for the reader - the fact that the
sweatshop offers regular employment and wages for financially oppressed
villagers, so the rich industrialists can justify the continuation of the
sweatshop conditions, while they put the financial rewards into Swiss bank
Author Conlan worked in financial management positions during his working
life before retiring to Thailand, and his description of how this type of
business dealing can be so financially rewarding and how profits can be
hidden obviously comes from personal experience.
Ms. Amanda is very aware of herself and having used up her husband’s
usefulness, discards him for two Americans who act as her agents for the
garment manufacturing business, and enjoys a ménage a trois. However, her
husband has also begun an affair with a Thai woman in the Bangkok branch of
his company in Thailand.
About three quarters of the way through the book, I was wondering just where
the tale was taking me - everything seemed to be working out for all the
principal characters both financially and their personal relationships.
The turning point comes with a double murder in Bangkok of people
And to further tighten the screws, the Australian side of her life begins to
unravel when more details of the professor’s life come to light.
A racy first book available through Amazon and as an e-book.
Pop Darrell’s Last Case
of the more prolific expat writers is Dean Barrett with numerous books
covering several genre, including fiction and non-fiction, poetry and
children’s books. Whilst he may be a China specialist, dating back to when
he was in the US Military, he has not let himself be restricted by that,
though China influences are often experienced.
Pop Darrell’s Last Case (ISBN 978-0-9788888-4-8, Village East Books,
2014) is Barrett’s latest book, featuring Pop Darrell, a tough ex-cop who
becomes involved in a mystery which was not of his making.
The opening chapter does have a China influence with the tale of two grave
robbers, one of whom does not return home.
The next few chapters introduces separate themes, which do eventually relate
to each other later in the book, the third chapter being Pop Darrell, the
grizzled ex-cop and central figure in this book.
Barrett makes good use of the short chapter style of narrative, which keeps
the action going and keeps the reader turning pages.
The action is placed in the present time with Google, Twitter and even Candy
Crush - and no, I do not wish to play! There is even mention of the
fallen-from-grace Chinese politician Bo Xi-lai, to really place the action
in time and space.
It is not all heavy data, as there is also a thread of humor which runs
through the book, with, for example, the description of a tug of war between
a dog and a C cup brassiere producing giggles if not outright guffaws for
any reader with a visual imagination.
The plot is that of a detective thriller, but author Barrett has also
introduced some supernatural elements just to provide some more mystery and
confusion in the mind of the reader. This is then much more to this novel
than your average detective drama.
Dean Barrett has the ability to describe his characters in a thoroughly
lifelike way. “Thin, wiry, nervous, jumpy, greasy mop of hair, sleeveless
black jersey over slightly bloodied, long-sleeved white T-shirt, baggy
wide-legged jeans, sleek black-and-red Air Jordan high-tops.” You cannot
help but see this young lad in all his grunge glory!
But along with the street cred, Pop Darrell’s Last Case also brings the
reader to high class S&M and B&D, feng-shui, martial arts weapons and other
Bring on human trafficking and the drug trade in China white heroin. This
book has it all, both real and imagined and conjured up.
The final chapters come one after another, after another, and after another,
as men are split open with ancient swords and the great final battle for
world supremacy is fought out in the storeroom of a Chinese restaurant.
Fiction mystery, or does it have a basis in fact. You, the reader decide.
B. 450 in Asia Books and Bookazine, or Amazon Kindle, makes it a cheap way
to enjoy a weekend. I have found in the past that Barrett weaves a great
yarn, and this book is up there with the best of them. A very professional
work as one would expect from a Board Member of Mystery Writers of America.