But For The Grace of God by Paul Grzegorzek

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My Rating: 5/5

Synopsis: Life is about choices, those already made and those yet to come. 

For John Cooper, more than most, this is especially true. Lost, hopeless and alone, he drifts through the Brighton underworld, a slave to his heroin habit and all but forgetting the man he used to be as he succumbs, dose by dose, to the drug that is both sustaining and killing him. 

The only people of import in his life are Mandy, a 16 year old prostitute who he cares for like a daughter, and Phil, mid-thirties and suffering from autism, a fact that many of the local drug dealers use to their advantage as they get him to ferry drugs all over the city. 

When Phil dies of a suspected overdose, however, John’s long-buried instincts begin to rise to the surface. Knowing that his friend would never use drugs, he begins to investigate what he knows is a murder when the police fail to show any interest. 

Unwittingly, John plunges himself and everyone around him into a murky world of drugs, violence and betrayal, all the while struggling against the addiction that consumes him.

My Review: From the very beginning of this book I was gripped. John is, although an addict, an immensely likeably bloke. It seems like the only people in John’s life are a 16 year old prostitute Mandy and an autistic guy named Phil. Life is the norm’ for John as he goes about his days waiting for the next fix. When Phil is found dead John instantly knows he has been the victim of a murder and not suicide like the police seem to be convinced by. At this early stage in the book we see John suddenly show a side to him from his previous years, as a copper!

As the story heats up Joh struggles to get anybody to take him seriously, but his persistence means other people in his life pay the price. The knock on effect for John is one that will have him putting his own life at risk to tell the truth. Between that and watching him try desperately to kick the habit, you can’t help but root for him! I really liked some of the other characters that appear such as Hannah and Gareth Bell. The story itself was brilliant and I read this (for the second time) in just over a day. There is plenty of action, as well as some dark and very serious moments. The book had my emotions ping-ponging all over the shop. I can honestly say I enjoyed it as much the second time around (if not more). 

There is one thing that baffles me though about this author. Before anybody asks the question, no I am not related to him and no I do not get paid for my opinion! Why on earth after 4 amazing books has this guy not been picked up and handed a publishing deal on a plate? I am certainly not an expert on the matter but I know what I like and I read a hell of a lot of books each year. I think Publishers are majorly missing out with this guy and feel compelled to ask the question why???? Having checked the reviews from all 4 books on Amazon it seems like nearly 80% of his reviews rate his books at 4 or 5 stars. Sometimes the book world baffles me. All I can say is if you want a gripping and enthralling read for less than the cost of a pint, this bad boy is the one!

Flare by Paul Grzegorzek

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My Rating: 5/5

Synopsis: Malcolm King is a journalist living in trendy Hove on the south coast of England. His days are taken up with video meetings and research on the internet while he writes articles for magazines around the world. 

When a solar flare of unprecedented magnitude hits the Earth, effectively hurling us back to the stone age in a matter of hours, Malc is thrust into a terrifying new world as he travels the length of the country to find his young daughter. 

Society, a fragile construct at best, shatters as the survivors fight each other for food and water, neighbour killing neighbour as fires rage through the cities, destroying much of what’s left. 

Faced with difficult choices at every turn, Malc draws his strength from those around him; Emily, a tough, no-nonsense soldier with a soft spot for lost causes and Jerry, a disgraced astrophysicist who may be the only person left who understands what’s happening with the sun. 

With their help, he must struggle to answer the ultimate question. 

What won’t he do to get his daughter back? 

My Review: Okay I have to start by being completely honest. When I read the synopsis I made a very hasty judgement. I decided that seeing as I didn’t really read this sort of thing, I wouldn’t enjoy it. I mean, yes, I have managed to sit through a couple of what I like to call Disaster Movies; and yes they were okay. That’s just it though, they were okay. So the thought of reading the equivalent didn’t fill me with joy. However, after reading the first few chapters I realised that the book was not only bloody good, I realised there wasn’t a hope in hell of me actually putting the damn thing down?

Malcolm King (known as Malc) is a journalist who in the first few chapters receives a phone call from his friend Jerry. Jerry is an astrophysicist and he is convinced that something bad is going to happen involving a solar flare. Malc refuses to believe it at first and within a matter of hours, he realises that he should have listened. Before he knows it, Malc is living ion a world where everything he knows is gone. The one problem he has is that he is currently living in the South of England and his young daughter is living in Manchester. He decided then and there that no matter what it takes, he will reach her.

Well in a nutshell as soon as Malc starts his travels the book ratchets up a gear and the reader gets to see just what might happen in the event of a catastrophic event? I know it sounds melodramatic, but at some point you must have wondered what would happen if everything electronic just stopped working; I know I have! The great thing about this book is that although the subject matter may seem extreme, there is always an element of what-ifs in it. The other characters that come into this book also made it that little bit more exciting.

 Mac meets Emily and her family, and soon realises that if anyone can help him Emily is it. She is a tough nut soldier and her attitude is what makes their journey even more exciting. At literally every turn there is another threat that has to be dealt with differently. If I’m honest there is a part of this book that kind of gave me the creeps, because I can imagine this country and the people living here becoming everything this book describes (the recent riots proved that!). I raced through the book in one day and by the time I got to the end I was desperate to know what happened next. I was so shocked that I loved it so much, not because of the author (his previous Crime novels are great), but the synopsis just didn’t sound like my cup of tea. Thankfully, I didn’t think about it and ended up reading an absolutely brilliant book. I can only hope that Paul gets his arse in gear and hurries up with the sequel! Even if you don’t think you like the sound of it, give it a go; I think you’ll enjoy it (and for £2 on Kindle it’s a bargain too!!

When Good Men Do Nothing by Paul Grzegorzek

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My Rating: 5/5

Paul Grzegorzek self-published his first book The Follow which I recently read and absolutely loved. It was a brilliant debut and I was really looking forward to getting stuck into book 2. In this book we meet Detective Sergeant Rob Steele who is the only bloke in Sussex who is a specialist in Firearms Positioning. He’s called into an investigation where a body is found and it looks like a professional job. The first few chapters waste no time in throwing you straight into the deep end of the crime scene and we meet his two colleagues on the case with him, Karl and Nat.

Pretty soon the standard murder investigation jumps up a notch when MI6 get involved. An MI6 agent Merrington becomes part of the team and the standard murder case starts to become a lot more serious when they try to hunt down terrorists. With Paul’s first book I really liked the lead main character Gareth Bell and was disappointed that I wouldn’t see him again in this book. Well, that was until I started reading about Rob Steele. He’s a brilliant character and although the book is really fast paced and the storyline brilliant, the lead character is what made it for me. Although the book has a serious theme and there are many tense moments where you start to edge towards the end of your seat (well I do anyway), Rob Steele has these genius flashes of dark humour which pop up throughout the book. There is a particular part in the book where Rob Steel has a bit of a wind up with his colleague Nat where he mentions the Peter James ‘Dead’ books. If you have read Peter James and this series in particular it will make you laugh, I thought it was legendary!

The second half of the book I had to do in one sitting as I couldn’t bear to wait and see what happened. Plenty of action, last minute plot twists and enough danger to shake a stick at. How Paul Grzegorzek has not been snapped up by a Publisher is beyond me. This is his second book and it’s and absolute blinder. His books are like a cross between a Peter James and a Simon Kernick, if you get where I’m going with that description. The fact that this book is available on Amazon Kindle for less than £2/$3 means it would be a crime not to buy yourself a copy. Once again I was blown away by how good this book was. I can only hope that next time I read one of his books it’s because his publisher has sent me an early review copy. A highly recommended read!

The Follow by Paul Grzegorzek (Gareth Bell #1)

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My Rating: 5/5

This latest book was a self-published book by Paul G (the surname is too long to keep typing!) and had been in my `to read’ list for months and months. I finally got around to it recently and at only a few chapters in I was regretting not having read it sooner. The first thing that struck me is how similar it was to Peter James books. Not in a bad way, but that great feeling you get when you start a James book knowing it’s going to be good!

Gareth Bell is a copper in Brighton and is working with the Drug Squad. The job is run of the mill for him until his partner gets stabbed by the psychopathic dealer Quentin Davey. The case then becomes personal for him. Added to the fact his partner was stabbed, Davey walks away from court without so much as a slap on the wrist. Gareth decides then and there to take matters into his own hands.

Gareth is an incredibly likeable character, and although he’s a copper he’s pretty ‘normal’. Don’t get me wrong he can handle himself but he’s not a walking talking killing machine like many other characters you can read about! It made a refreshing change to see a character that is a bog standard copper doing what I think many coppers would love to do, but wouldn’t risk their career for!

The story itself had me hooked in and the writing style was easy to get sucked into and I found myself irritated that not only had I not read it sooner, but that he doesn’t yet have a second book out (very disappointed)! The one thing that was maybe a little different with this book to others is the sheer detail at what police have to endure. You can tell that Paul speaks from experience and it makes the reading experience that little bit better. It was almost like I did a bit of work experience with Brighton police.

This book is an absolute bargain at just over a nicker and a half (£1.50 for those that will no doubt ask) on Amazon for the Kindle. If you are a Peter James fan you will love this book. My only disappointment is that a Publisher has not snapped him up and demanded he write a follow up immediately if not sooner. First class debut!