Monthly Archives: October 2015
Depraved Heart by Patricia Cornwell
Review Date: 31 October 2015
Author: Patricia Cornwell
Release Date: 22 October 2015
Publishers: Harper Collins
ISBN –10: 0007552467
ISBN – 13: 978-0007552467
Available in Hardback, Kindle and audio
The Last Word Review
Dr Kay Scarpetta is back. Prepare for twists and prepare for the ultimate thriller
The Official Depraved Heart blog tour 2015
Depraved Heart is Patricia Cornwell’s twenty-third book that features the medical examiner Dr Kay Scarpetta. I must admit although I am a huge fan of Patricia Cornwell it has been a while since I have had the chance to read one of her superb thrillers.
Firstly I had one slight problem with Depraved Heart, it is a follow up to Flesh and Blood which was first released in November 2014. I had not read this so I was at a slight disadvantage as the story opened with Dr Scarpetta still recovering after being shot by a spear while underwater.
The one thing about Cornwell’s thrillers is that the timeframe is all very compact for some crime writers that may not work but Cornwell seems to have mastered the art of writing a fast paced enthralling thriller that happens within a short timeframe in Depraved Heart this is no exception.
Scarpetta is working on a case involving the death of Chanel Gilbert, Chanel is the daughter of a famous Hollywood producer Amanda Gilbert. What would seem like an accident involving Chanel falling from while changing a light bulb at her mother’s house. Dr Scarpetta thinks otherwise and suspects sinister motives and that this was no accident.
Depraved Heart is not just a crime thriller it is a psychological thriller as you progress through the story it becomes clear that Scarpetta starts to lose trust with many around her. When you are trying to solve a mystery and you suspect people around you it becomes a completely different scenario and it is fascinating to see how she interacts with others while solving the crime. One character in Depraved Heart that I was not sure about was Scarpetta’s niece Lucy, this part of the story is interesting as some will find her difficult and others will find it an interesting plot twister along with another leading character Carrie Grethen who is let’s be honest here no fan of Dr Scarpetta and this alone just adds to the impending tension that gathers apace through the book, the one thing that is guaranteed with Cornwell’s books is the ending, this one is no exception and it left me wanting more.
It has been truly fascinating to catch up with Dr Kay Scarpetta after so long and seeing how she has developed makes me want to go back and read all the ones I have missed over the years. Loyal fans will love Depraved Heart and I look forward to the next chapter in the Kay Scarpetta thrillers.
Thank you to Hayley Camis and Harper Collins for a review copy of Depraved Heart and for the opportunity to be part of the official blog tour. Sadly today is the last day my thanks to everyone who has taken part on the blog tour and for Hayley Camis who has worked so hard in arranging all the finer detail.
There is an opportunity to meet Patricia Cornwell at to forthcoming events to coincide with the release of Depraved Heart. Meet the No1 best-selling author who has sold over 100 million books in the series.
Meet the Author
Patricia Cornwell is the 2008 winner of the Galaxy British Book Awards’ Books Direct Crime Thriller of the Year – the first American ever to win this prestigious award. Postmortem was the only novel to win five major crime awards in a single year and Cruel and Unusual won the coveted Gold Dagger Award in 1993.
Institutionalised by Kevine Walcott
Guest Blog on The Last Word Book Review
I am delighted to welcome Kevine Walcott to The Last Word Book Review with a guest blog presenting her new memoir that will shock anyone who reads it.
Institutionalised: When Government Abuse with Mental Illness.
What if you wake up one day and find yourself at the centre of online troll (abuse), and only months and years later to be told you are mentally ill when talking about your experience? What happens when the only witness of what goes on in your home is you and your perpetrator? When the police, intelligence services and doctors are in bed together there is no end to your suffering. Being told it is all inside your head and having no place to run and no one to turn to for help. These scenarios may sound like a nightmare, but for victims of government harassment these experiences are real. One in four of the population will suffer from a mental health condition at least once in their life, but to have mental illness being used as a punitive psychiatric policy is too much to stomach.
I was once a globe-trotting business owner; confident, happy and seemingly untouchable. However, after becoming the victim of YouTube cyber-attacks, I found herself institutionalised at an NHS facility and under the control of the country’s medieval mental health laws.
In ‘Institutionalised’, I bares all. Most shocking is that the cyber-attacks were not initiated by teenage trolls or a disgruntled former lover; but agents working for the UK Government. Prepare to learn about a shocking new form of modern oppression, because I has one searing story to tell.
My shocking and frightening new memoir describes her online victimisation at the hands of UK Government operatives, leading to her being institutionalised under the British government’s punitive psychiatric strategy. Fusing a memoir activism, I pulls no punches when exposing the illegal relationship between intelligence services and the NHS, while calling on readers to spread the world and end this new digital form of Governmental oppression.
This book is a personal account of one woman’s experience with the British government, its police and intelligence services, and mental health services after experiencing cyber attacks on YouTube by government agents. The book exposes government operatives online and within the National Health Services (NHS), and how mental illness is used as a punitive psychiatric tool to cover-up abuses by government.
It also provides some insight into the way government agents are allowed to pursue religious interest among other interest online and burry alternative views, and the role mental health services plays in these unfortunate activities. This book is not meant to be spy novel, the characters, scenes and account are real and frightening.
“It is vital that the NHS separates and distances itself from Police and Intelligence Services. Right now, they are virtually in bed with each other”. “Health professionals cannot make correct diagnoses while Government agents are part of the process and abusing their powers for the sake of control.”
“As a result, I became involved in the judiciary in ways I could never have imagined, and that entire process was also moulded around the Government’s mandate to control. If any case appears to be exposing Government abuse or their illegal activities, the Court will throw it out. It’s unbelievable, but true.”
People with a story to tell may also came under fire simply for putting pen to paper but these stories of truth must be told.
“They threatened to institutionalise me again just for wanting to tell my story. I now live my life treading on egg shells; a far cry from the beacon of confidence and independence that I was before. My advice to everyone is to watch your movements, be careful what you seek out online and – above all – trust nobody.”
About the Author:
Kevine Walcott is a property professional with a masters degree from University College London. She had found herself at the centre of an online hate campaign after accessing videos on ancient Egyptian religion on YouTube. She had discovered that some of her harassers were government agents. She had fought with her harassers who took their campaign offline and onto the streets and into her home. She had documented her experience in this thrilling memoir where the accounts are frightening. She told how her experience left her institutionalised by those using mental health as a disguising veneer to cover up abuses by law enforcement and the intelligence services and the role religion and history places in these unfortunate events.
The World is (Not) a Dead Cold Place by Nathan O’Hagan
Review Date: 21 October 2015
Author: Nathan O’Hagan
Release Date: 21 August 2015
Publishers: Armley Press
ISBN –10: 0955469996
ISBN – 13: 0955469992
Available in Paperback & Kindle
The Last Word Review
This is a book you will not forget in a hurry, you will laugh and cry to Gary Lennon
Firstly I have to make a disclaimer, this is a story based in Birkenhead, Merseyside, a place I know very well as I was born just a few miles away. So I had to jump at the chance to review a book finally from my home.
I have the chance to read and write reviews for some truly outstanding books, sadly there are some that never get to this point, I am delighted to recommend The World is (not) a Dead Cold Place by Nathan O’Hagan. Is it possible to laugh and cry and at the same time feel a somewhat homesick. Yes this was me.
Gary Lennon is a man that has become disaffected with the World we all know and suffers from OCD as well as other psychological conditions. Gary shuns contact and has shut himself away with no job living off benefits so there is no real contact with the outside world. Basically he has cut himself adrift from society in general.
We get the opportunity to enter Gary’s world and follow in his footsteps as he ‘very briefly’ ventures into the outside world and the occasional brush a fellow citizen. For Gary it is bad enough going outside but it gets worse he has to have meetings with Brian his therapist. So by now you should be getting the picture of Gary’s world.
So when Brian decides it is time Gary braves the big wide world and trying to get him off benefits and into work, imagine how scary that is. Now imagine getting a job, wait for it. In a call centre surrounded by all sorts of people let alone being harassed by his team leader. Some of the moments in this story are immensely funny, so when Ruth starts to sexually harass Gary you can imagine how his world goes. So what becomes of Gary and the world in which he inhabits? No I am not going to divulge. That would spoil it.
The World is (not) a Dead Cold Place has everything even moments of immense heart-warming moments. This is not just a story it is about modern life the world in which we all live.
You must read this for the moments of pure joy and occasional sadness. But you will come to love this and many will re-visit at a later time.
Meet the Author
After spending most of his teens and twenties in various unsuccessful bands, Nathan eventually turned his hand to writing. In 2013 he self-published a short fiction collection, “Purge”. “The World Is (Not) A Cold Dead Place” is his first completed novel, though he has since completed one more and is in the early stages of a third. He has also written a screenplay and and another series of short stores which he may self-publish in the future. He regularly writes features and reviews for the online fanzine God Is In The TV.
Nathan grew up on Merseyside, rarely venturing away other than a brief stint in Carlisle. He now lives in Northamptonshire with his wife and two children and works full time for the NHS.
Follow Nathan on twitter @NathanOHagan and Facebook https://m.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1575664172658397
Death by Dangerous by Olly Jarvis
Review Date: 20 October 2015
Author: Olly Jarvis
Release Date: 24 June 2015
ISBN –10: 1784623490
ISBN – 13: 978-1784623494
Available in Paperback and Kindle
The Last Word Review
Fast paced thriller from inside the court room, an outstanding debut crime novel
If like me you enjoy a great crime thriller that is set within the walls of the courtroom then Death by Dangerous is a book you that you should add to your reading list.
To say Death by Dangerous is gripping is an understatement. When I read the synopsis on the reverse of the book I was curious to see how the story would pan out. I just wish I had come to this book a lot sooner than I did. I was hooked.
The basis of the story centres on Barrister John Anderson who is accused of falling asleep at the when of his car, here the story really starts. John cannot recall anything.
I want you to imagine yourself in a position when it seems you have the world at your feet and then the fingers are pointed and the rug is well and truly pulled from under you. Just imagine the torment the anguish as you see friends shun you and then there is your family and how that is tested to its very limit. You start to question yourself. Why is this happening?
Olly Jarvis has not only the experience of being a barrister so that he tells it as it really is when you get to the courtroom. This is a an incredibly fast paced thriller that has so many twists and turns that it leaves you asking questions. How would you cope in this situation? At times it was frightening to read about the CJS and its inner workings let alone what Jon was going through. It is difficult not to feel some empathy here for the accused. Let us not beat around the bush here John is facing prison and he is fighting not only for his life he is fighting for his sanity we learn so much about his character, as at first he comes across as some may say arrogant is his own way, but the persona soon breaks down and there is more to John as you will discover. Some also say the higher you climb the harder the fall. But the same time when you hit the bottom there is only one to go from there you have to fight your way back up again.
Along with the twists and turns in Death by Dangerous there are a number of characters that I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know each one with some sort of a motive. The fact that this story goes to the very last page and keeps you wondering just adds to the tension. The perfect legal crime novel.
With the long dark winter nights ahead grab a copy of Death by Dangerous and discover the new writing talent of Olly Jarvis. I have a feeling we will be hearing great things of this brilliant new legal writer.
My thanks to both Matador and Olly Jarvis for a review copy.
Meet the Author
Olly Jarvis is a writer and criminal defence barrister, originally from London but now working in Manchester. Drawing on his experiences, he writes both fiction and non-fiction with a particular understanding of the pressures and excitement of life in the courtroom. He wrote highly acclaimed Radio 4 drama Judgement, exploring a barrister’s thought processes whilst cross-examining a rape victim. Using his knowledge of the Indonesian language, he travelled to Sumatra where he wrote and presented a BBC documentary entitled Mum Knows Best. Son of actor/director Martin Jarvis OBE, Olly has two children and lives in Cheshire.
Targeted and Trolled by Rossalyn Warren
Review Date: 21 October 2015
Author: Rossalyn Warren
Release Date: 22 October 2015
Publishers: Transworld Digital
Available in Kindle
The Last Word Review
Such an important book that deserves to be read by a wide audience
There have been a number of high profile cases of people being attacked through Social Media by ‘trolls’. At last we now have an account of what it is like from the victim’s perspective to face the appalling threats every day.
Targeted and Trolled by Rossalyn Warren is a book that I would urge people to read, as this really is a first-hand account of a woman being targeted and attacked online. I must admit I was not sure when asked what to make of such a book but I am now delighted that I was asked as I have now learnt so much about the appalling acts of online terror that these ‘trolls’ do to their victims.
Rossalyn Warren’s book is primarily aimed at the online attacks aimed at women as they tend to be much more serious in their threats. Some of the attacks are really horrific in nature.
At the dawn of the age of the internet and then Social Media networks I do not honestly believe that anyone could have seen anything like this happening to the appalling level that it has reached.
Targeted and Trolled is a short eBook running at about 52 pages but as I found out Warren pulls no punches in her description of what she had to endure everyday she switched on her Computer. No woman should ever have to endure daily online abuse and sickening threats.
To quote from the book, ‘In fairy tales trolls are a supernatural being that lives in the wilderness or lurks under a bridge. Internet trolls are similar but lack the supernatural folklore, these trolls pervade the internet looking for their next victim’. That alone sounds like a line from a top selling thriller novel but in fact what we have here is actual fact. That is frightening just thinking about it.
Warren through the book looks at the reasons as to why women are the primary targets not ignoring men who are targeted just that the level of threat to Women is much more severe.
The fact that many who commit online abuse whether that is through issuing threats to their victims, stalking, revenge porn or trolling they feel that their behaviour is entirely justified and acceptable. I was shocked to read that and left me not only cold but asking why?
A number of cases in recent years have involved some high profile women including Sue Perkins just because she was being tipped as one the new presenters for the BBC show ‘Top Gear’
How do we move forward and stop this from happening that is what Warren also looks at and it is good to hear that Some countries are now taking positive action in not only identifying the perpetrators of these crimes but also holding the individuals to account. Social Media outlets also must do more to prevent attacks and track down perpetrator’s.
I must warn you that some of the detail is disturbing but I feel that Targeted and Trolled is a book that had to be written and now needs to be read by a ‘wide’ audience.
Thank you to Transworld Publishers for a review copy.
The Targeted and Trolled blog tour is currently under way and further details are available on the poster below were you can read more as well as interviews with the author Rossalyn Warren.
Sugar Hall by Tiffany Murray
Review Date: 17 October 2015
Author: Tiffany Murray
Release Date: 5 May 2014
Publishers: Seren Books
ISBN –10: 178172220X
ISBN – 13: 978-1781722206
Available in Hardback, Paperback and Kindle
The Last Word Review
A multi-layered ghost story that has you in its spell from the first page
One of my all-time favourite ghost stories is The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins, there have many others since then, and after reading Sugar Hall by Tiffany Murray I would be happy to call this a classic ghost story.
This novel is set in 1955, the war still looms large in the memories of people. Sugar Hall is a country house in the Welsh borders and is based on the haunting stories of Littledean Hall in the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire.
Sugar Hall is in a very poor state by the time Lilia Sugar and her two children Saskia and Dieter arrive to take up residence, Poor Liliana has to put up with the freezing cold the rusty locks and the ice from the windows. There are strange rooms that are cold and rooms that are dark and forbidding. But it is Dieter that falls under the spell of Sugar Hall the young boy is lonely and spends time exploring the residence and then one day a strange boy appears from nowhere and Dieter is captivated by the boy except the boy appears and disappears as if by magic, the story of Sugar Hall really starts here. Murray really has a fabulous way at captivating her reading audience with a mix of fact and fiction as the story really unfolds.
Lilia moved to England in 1938 at just 15 years old. As with the classic ghost stories Lilia has her own ghosts to deal with and we learn more about Lilia as the story unfolds. Now with her husband Peter now dead she has inherited Sugar Hall. How is she going to cope with little in the way of money. Dieter’s new friend is now becoming more menacing and is slowly taking over. Dieters grandfather (Gerald) was a keen collector of Butterflies and Moth’s and one of the rooms they call the ‘room of death’ is clearly marked by Lilia as a ‘no entry’ room and is kept locked. I am keen on Butterflies and Moth’s and will never look at them the same again after reading Sugar Hall. Why? You will find out after reading this fabulous twisting creepy story.
One aspect of the book I enjoyed is that each new chapter has an illustration that just adds to the qualities of Murray’s writing skill. Some may find the story has a number of layers that leave questions. For me that is just an added quality that Sugar Hall delivers it wants you not just to read but to question and debate.
Some readers will feel some lingering sadness for the boy ghost and his past, what really happened to him and what was the story of his Mother? Why has he suddenly appeared to Dieter? So by now you realise that this is not just a compelling ghost story but also added mystery. I was compelled to try and get to know more about some of the characters in the story, but these are questions that will haunt you after you have finished reading Sugar Hall.
This is classic writing that should be making Sugar Hall an all-time classic story that should be up there with the Woman in White and the Woman in Black. Simply a superb creepy ghost story laden with twists that will keep you guessing.
Thank you to Seren Books for a review copy of Sugar Hall.
Meet the Author
Tiffany Murray was born in South West Sussex and grew up in Wales. Her first novel Happy Accidents and her second, Diamond Star Halo were both short-listed for the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Award. Tiffany’s writing has appeared in The Times, The Telegraph, The Independent and The Guardian. She is Senior Lecturer at The University of Glamorgan.
After the Flood by John Nichol
Review Date: 16 October 2015
Author: John Nichol
Release Date: 2 July 2015
Publishers: William Collins
ISBN –10: 0008100314
ISBN – 13: 978-0008100315
Available in Hardback, Kindle and audio
The Last Word Review
A true epic story of incredible courage and sacrifice. An outstanding account of 617 Squadron
As a boy I recall building plastic model kits of the famous aircraft of World War II and one Christmas I was given a special kit of the RAF Lancaster bomber but this was different, it was one from the famous ‘Dambuster’ raids. I did not know much about these raids at the time, but from then on I spent more and more time in my local library researching the history of Bomber Command and the Dambuster raids. Little did I know it at the time that my thirst for knowledge for both World Wars would become a lifelong interest.
Not many would have failed to have heard of the legendary story of the crews of the Dambuster raids, but what became of the crews. In After the Flood by former RAF navigator John Nichol is an incredible researched account of the these brave men that flew on the attacks on the dams.
The mend of 637 Squadron were brought together to train for a specific mission to attack and ultimately destroy a series of dams the Mohne, Eder and Sorpe dams in the heart of the industrial Ruhr, by attacking and destroying these dams it would set back the German military machine by also destroying factories in the Ruhr valley. The question was how to attack these dams, something unheard of. Barnes Wallis had for some time been experimenting with a new bomb specifically designed for attacking these dams, which later became known as ‘the bouncing bomb’
On 17th May 1943 Operation Chastise was launched with 19 modified Lancaster Bombers of 617 Squadron took off under the command of Wing Commander Guy Gibson, the aircraft flew at altitudes of 100 feet to avoid radar detection and carried a single bouncing bomb.
Of the 133 aircrew that took part in the raid on the dams 56 were killed. The results of the attacks was a massive propaganda success for the RAF. The resulting flood waves killed close to 1600 people many were forced labourers of a number of nationalities from a number of European countries and also Eastern Europe.
617 Squadron went on to carry many more daring raids over enemy targets from deep inside Germany to attacking and sinking the Tirpitz the largest German battleship ever built, they also went on missions destroying V1 and V2 factories and launch sites to the catastrophic attack on the Dortmund-Ems canal and also Hitler’s Eagles nest.
Of the entire crews that joined the Dambusters raids only 45 men survived to see the final victory that they fought so bravely to achieve.
Nicholl deserves praise for the immense research that was undertaken for After the Flood including talking with survivors as well as visiting some of the target sites the crews attacked. This is an incredible story about a group of incredibly brave men who put themselves in mortal danger every time they took part in a raid. It is a fitting tribute to 617 Squadron a group of men to whom we owe so much and the likes of which we may never see again.
An outstanding historical account that I am delighted to recommend to anyone with an interest in military history.
Lest we forget.
Meet the Author
During 15 years service in the Royal Air Force John Nichol served as a technician and, after being commissioned from the ranks, as a Tornado Navigator in both the Air Defence and Ground Attack roles. On active duty in the Gulf he was shot down on the first low-level, daylight raid of the first Gulf War. Captured and tortured, he was paraded on television provoking worldwide condemnation and leaving one of the enduring images of the conflict. He returned to active duty and was involved in policing the exclusion zone as part of the UN force maintaining the fragile peace in Bosnia. He has served around the world from the Nevada Desert to the Middle East and Norway to the Falkland Islands.
John is the best-selling author of Tornado Down, five novels, and the highly acclaimed WWII history books, The Last Escape, Tail-End Charlies and Home Run. He is in demand to give motivational lectures and after-dinner speeches and has worked with wide variety of businesses including BT, Shell, Lloyds Bank and The Stockholm School of Economics.
He has written for The Times, The Mail on Sunday and The Observer and is a widely quoted commentator on military affairs. He has also been a consultant and presenter for Newsnight, BBC, Sky & ITV News, World in Action, CNN and Cutting Edge. He devised and presented 2 series of Survivors, interviewing newsmakers who have been through life changing experiences. He recently wrote two major series for the Sunday Express, Heroes and Survivors. John is a member of The Royal British Legion’s Gulf War Group helping veterans with Gulf War Syndrome and a patron of the British Ex-service Wheelchair Sports Association.
Visit John Nichol’s website. http://johnnichol.com/
The Widow by Fiona Barton
Review Date: 10 October 2015
Author: Fiona Barton
Release Date: 14 January 2016
Publishers: Bantam Press (Transworld Publishers).
ISBN –10: 0593076214
ISBN – 13: 0593076217
Available in Hardback, Paperback, Kindle and audio
The Last Word Review
Thought provoking psychological thriller, what does go on behind closed doors
One of the most anticipated thrillers to be published in January 2016. Fiona Barton has written the ultimate thriller in The Widow that asks the question what really does go on behind closed doors.
This is a novel as told through the perspectives of the leading characters, and you get to know them very well and some are not quite as they make out.
Bella a two year old girl has been abducted from her garden and the main suspect is Glen Taylor a delivery driver. The police arrive one day to question Glen about his whereabouts on the day Bella disappeared so the story begins. Well not quite, there much more to this psychological thriller than you think. Glen seemed to have it all a great job at the local bank except how did he lose his job and how he explained it to his wife Jean, slowly but surely the facts all start to be uncovered. Glen is not who Jean really thinks he is, in fact the long suffering wife does not know her husband all that well.
The book opens four years after Bella disappeared and a lot has taken place in that time, now Glen has been killed in an accident and Jean has decided to bring the past out into the open. This is a story that flits between the past and the present in short chapters that I found really captivating and dares you to put the book down. I could not as it is that good you just wanted to know more about Glen and why is Jean so supportive of the monster that is her husband.
Normally in a review I will give an outline of the storyline in more detail, but as this is being published in January 2016 and is destined to be a best seller, this time around I am not going to delve to deeply into the story as that will spoil it.
The Widow is superbly written and so many twists and turns and really makes you thinks about loyalty in situations like this. I utterly loathed Glen but with Jean I found myself asking ‘why’ many times and this is a very believable storyline as you can imagine there are many ‘Jeans’ out there in a similar situation.
As I write this review The Widow has been sold to over 28 countries around the world and that is destined to increase and in recent days has been ‘optioned’ for television. You will be hearing a lot more about Fiona Barton and her debut novel through the coming months.
Some will tell you that The Widow will be the new Girl on the Train or Gone Girl I am in the opinion to say that it deserves to stand up by itself and it will and the success and accolades that will surely follow. It is no surprise to learn that Fiona Barton is an award winning reporter so she knew exactly what she was writing about when writing The Widow as she covered many murder cases. What makes women like Jean Taylor stay loyal that is one of the leading questions that comes out of this outstanding crime thriller.
Make a date for 14 January 2016 and prepare to cancel a weekend as turn the first page of Fiona Barton’s The Widow.
Thank you to Ben Willis and Transworld Books for an Advanced Review Copy.
Meet the Author
Fiona Barton trains and works with journalists all over the world. Previously, she was a senior writer at the Daily Mail, news editor at the Daily Telegraph, and chief reporter at The Mail on Sunday, where she won Reporter of the Year at the British Press Awards. The Widow is her first novel. Born in Cambridge, she currently lives in south-west France.
Deeper Thank Indigo by Jenny Balfour Paul
Review Date: 1 October 2015
Author: Jenny Balfour Paul
Release Date: 3 June 2015
Publishers: Medina Publishing Ltd
ISBN –10: 1909339539
ISBN – 13: 978-1909339538
Available in Hardback
The Last Word Review
More than just a historical account, this is a unique insight into a forgotten explorer
Deeper than Indigo by Jenny Balfour Paul, is an incredible account of the life of the forgotten explorer Thomas Machell. What we have here is a unique memoir, travelogue and in no great part an amazing detective story trying to discover the missing years of the explorer.
Thomas Machell was born in 1824 to a large family and it was clear from as early as 12 he had that ‘explorer’ in him as he tried to set off on an adventure after climbing out of his bedroom window with his younger brother. They got as far as Brighton before being returned to their parent’s home. Not deterred a few years later he set sail for China where he witnessed some of the events that shaped China’s history including the treaty of Nanking.
While sailing around the Cape Horn he embarked on an affair with the daughter of a cannibal chieftain, some might say brave but in essence that summed up everything about Thomas Machell. Later he would become an Indigo planter in Bengal. This is the passion of the author of Deeper than Indigo. Having already established herself as an expert on the Indigo dye and was drawn to the Victorian explorer and so we have an epic account of Jenny Balfour Paul’s scholarly research into his life, as she was preparing to deliver a speech in 1999 to the Royal Geographical Society about her travels and seeking out the dyes, when she discovered some manuscripts of Thomas Machell. What she was looking at was just one of five volumes of his journals, though Machell said he was going to write seven.
Their connection was made and in 2000 along with her husband set off in pursuit of his life, his travels and wanting to know more about the forgotten explorer. The author describes here fascination with Thomas Machell as his ‘besotted admirer’. Through her journeys seeking to discover more about his life and the ‘missing years’ would at times be perilous and risky at one point surviving being shot at. Not deterred she would follow in his footsteps even after the loss of her husband, she uses letters and postcards to speak as Machell and sometimes would become him as her ‘obsession’ at times overtook her. The entire account is littered with extraordinary coincidences that connect both the explorer and author that makes this book even more incredible. How she comes by a box of his old papers that fill in the missing years is one classic example of this amazing journey that Jenny undertook. I would go as far to say it was destiny calling for Jenny Balfour Paul. Her relationship with Machell becomes more intimate as you progress through the book. This indeed is a rare thing of beauty that makes Deeper than Indigo a very unique historical account. A book that you will find hard to forget long after you have finished reading. An exceptional account of a forgotten explorer and an author who became him to uncover his past. I congratulate Jenny Balfour Paul on Deeper than Indigo a journey that I so loved reading about that in the end was sad at the turning of the last page and journey’s end.
My thanks to Jenny and to Medina Publishing for a copy in return for a review.
Meet the Author
Jenny Balfour Paul
Jenny Balfour Paul, writer, artist, intrepid traveller and international lecturer, travelled overland to India, returning by sea, before graduating from York University. Author of two books on indigo and numerous other writings, she was consultant curator for the Whitworth Art Gallery’s touring exhibition ‘Indigo, a Blue to Dye For’, and consultant for two documentary films. She is an Honorary Research Fellow at Exeter University; a Fellow of London s Royal Geographical Society and Royal Asiatic Society and New York’s Explorers Club; and President of the Association of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers. She is a involved in research into dyes recovered from shipwrecks, is a partner in ‘Silk Road Connect’, an educational initiative launched by cellist Yo Yo Ma’s Silk Road Project in New York in 2009, and promotes revivals of natural dyes worldwide.