A Thousand Bayonets by Joel Mark Harris
Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Adult
Publication: August 18th 2011 by iUniverse.com
Upon returning from Afghanistan, journalist John Webster discovers a gang war in his backyard. Now he must find a way to survive in this Canadian warzone-or die in the crossfire.
John Webster has seen the terrible things human beings can do. He’s an experienced investigative journalist, recently returned from the war in Afghanistan. John saw hell over there; he looked death straight in the face. He is glad to be back to the normalcy of his Canadian home-that is, until he realizes there is a war brewing in his own backyard, and “peace” is a word no longer spoken.
John gets caught up in the battle between two of the most powerful and murderous criminal gangs in the city. Using what he learned on the foreign battlefields, he stays alive, despite the price on his head. The only way to save his own life is to find the man responsible for the brutal neighborhood bloodshed. When the police slap a subpoena on him, though, John finds his only solace on the streets.
Suddenly, John is back in a warzone, fighting for his life. Will he be able to stop the bloodthirsty crime lords? The flashbacks to Afghanistan threaten to pull John into darkness. Soon, the past and present collide, and he can’t tell which way is up or down. The need for redemption may be stronger than the need for survival as John Webster finds himself on his most dangerous assignment yet.
This book was a pleasant surprise. From the first moment I was immersed in the suspense, action and heart-clenching pace of this novel really excelled. I have to admit I was a little wary when I got asked to review this novel because I thought “Is this going to be my thing?” and it might not be my usual genre, but it was brilliant! Unpredictable and engaging; I literally couldn’t put this book down even on my holiday. Not really a cheery holiday read, but certainly a realistic and emotive book.
John Webster was a very strange character. I never fully got to grips with him as a character and his personality. He seemed rather withdrawn from society and whilst I didn’t connect with him entirely I think it wasn’t needed for this type of story. From the outside you could take him in and really find frustration with his situation and character and get carried along with the direction of the story without the need for the connection. His character was flawed and he was frustrating and you wanted to knock his head against a brick wall, but that kept the suspense and anticipation throughout the novel that made ‘A Thousand Bayonets’ thrilling.
We had some really nice descriptions that weren’t over the top and they really helped to build the background and create some nice visuals for reading. I liked this one in particular because of it’s references to books.
“He had a wall-to-wall bookcase behind his desk. The bookcase was filled with classics written by Dickens, Tolstoy, and Dostoevsky, and textbooks he used to teach his Friday morning class at the University of British Columbia.”
There was even a little bit of romance in this book which was bizarre and I didn’t know entirely which direction I was going with it because there was so many different routes, but I think that makes the reality of this novel so stark because it wasn’t perfect and it was riddled with imperfections. I mean, Webster had a shot at two women and his ex-wife was muddled into things with constant appearances and I’m not really sure how I felt about her. The romance was unconventional and ultimately it just highlighted a futility to John’s life because of how it didn’t seem to work and it never truly evolved, but it played an interesting aspect to the novel.
Sometimes I think reading is great for escapism, but sometimes to contrast this delving into the darkest pits of reality and really uncovering something that potentially exists and we are ignorant to is so horrific that it’s thrilling is something this novel gives you.
Webster focuses a lot on his past and he’s certainly messed up individual from his time as a journalist in Afghanistan. Harris really does a brilliant job of showing the horror and psychological impact of it all and its not nice to read, but it’s engrossing in a horrible kind of way.
“Suddenly the boy burst into flames. He dropped to his knees, writhing in pain, unable to extinguish the fire. And John was still unable to move, unable to help the boy. The only thing he could do was watch as the boy burned to death.”
I think my only issue was at the start when I didn’t know John Weber very well was converting from Weber to John to describe him as the protagonist and this confused me because I thought they were two different people and the consistency of one title could have been done with to start with, especially when I didn’t realise his full name.
‘A Thousand Bayonets’ for me is hard to summarise because on the most basic level it’s a brutal novel about the destructive nature of mankind and how cruel people can be when sinking to gain personally and manipulation and deceit that occurs in the world. Ultimately it becomes an intricately told novel with different threads weaving through it about characters motives, police corruption, relationships, family and the mystery and suspense that are built from this is definitely superb. A cracking novel.
So you don’t miss your chance to read this novel, enter HERE to win a chance of getting 1 of 10 signed copies of ‘A Thousand Bayonets’ from the author and open internationally because I promise you it won’t let you down! I’m hosting this giveaway along with Matt from Genius Book Reviews who introduced me to Joel, so I have to give him a big shout out and suggest you hop over to check out his world of fantastic, fantasy reviews!
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