#BookReview - Soot by Andrew Martin

York, 1799.

In August, an artist is found murdered in his home - stabbed with a pair of scissors. Matthew Harvey's death is much discussed in the city. The scissors are among the tools of his trade - for Harvey is a renowned cutter and painter of shades, or silhouettes, the latest fashion in portraiture. It soon becomes clear that the murderer must be one of the artist's last sitters, and the people depicted in the final six shades made by him become the key suspects. But who are they? And where are they to be found?

Later, in November, a clever but impoverished young gentleman called Fletcher Rigge languishes in the debtor's prison, until a letter arrives containing a bizarre proposition from the son of the murdered man. Rigge is to be released for one month, but in that time, he must find the killer. If he fails, he will be incarcerated again, possibly for life.

And so, with everything at stake, and equipped only with copies of the distinctive silhouettes, Fletcher Rigge be…

Book Review: 1920: America's Great War by Robert Conroy

A second Netgalley November review for you today, this time I'm reviewing 1920: America's Great War by Robert Conroy.



Some of the best books I've read have been set during the First and Second World Wars, Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks, Pat Barker's Regeneration trilogy and The Cruel Sea by Nicholas Monsarrat immediately come to mind. Therefore I was looking forward to this alternative history which imagines Germany won a swift and decisive war in Europe in 1914 then shipped a huge army to Mexico to support a puppet government before staging a bold invasion of America in 1920, with the intention of making Texas and California the permanent property of Imperial Germany.
An interesting premise then, but unfortunately it wasn't a book that really engaged me.
I think the main issues for me were the scale and by necessity the number of people in the book. I like to be drawn in by a character, to empathise with them, care for them and in the case of books set in war time to fear for them and I didn't have that with this book. I felt the action swapped from one scene to another too quickly meaning as a reader I never really felt involved. I would have preferred the book to have concentrated on the characters of Luke, Josh, Kirsten and Elise as I found them the more interesting and engaging protagonists. The book also featured several real life people and whilst I think some made sense I did feel it was rather overdone. Ultimately I expect a book set in wartime to set my pulse racing, to really make me feel for the characters, to mourn those lost and to experience a sense of relief for the survivors. Sadly I didn't get that with this book, I never really doubted the outcome and it personally left me cold.
After finishing it I realised I was reminded of a big budget Hollywood action movie with lots of special effects and drama but less in the way of characterisation. I know there are plenty of people who love films like that and likewise I believe there are many readers who will thoroughly enjoy this book, it just wasn't for me.
Disclosure: I received this book free from the publishers through Netgalley in return for my honest review.

1920: America's Great War is published by Baen Books.


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