The Cossack by K J Lawrence

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The Cossack by K J Lawrence

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Category: Thrillers
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: Far too many thrillers rely on action to cover up the lack of a convincing plot and poor character development but The Cossack makes you believe in the genre again. Highly recommended. K J Lawrence popped into Bookbag Towers to chat to us.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 350 Date: September 2017
Publisher: Tetera Book
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1999782702

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Daniel Brooking is not what you'd think of as hero material: he's a photographer of some merit and in his fifties he has a settled life. It was the disappearance of his assistant, Ivan Shevchenko, which disrupted everything. It wasn't unknown for him to disappear occasionally, but missing an exhibition was a first for him. He'd been distracted for a few days - and then there were the strange papers which arrived, to be kept safe. The authorities, in the form of a shadowy senior member of the security services, confirmed the view that Ivan was probably dead, because of some supposed connections with organised crime and drug dealing.

This didn't sit well with Brooking: Ivan might have smoked the odd joint but the man he knew would never have been involved as a dealer or with organised crime. The papers which Ivan had sent suggested that he was researching something to do with a bank in the United States and as it seemed that no one was prepared to look into this angle Brooking took advantage of a planned trip to the States to make a detour to New London in Connecticut. The reader understands rather more than Daniel at this point: we know that Ivan is dead, the victim of a contract killing. We know quite a bit more about the killer too.

I don't often read thrillers: far too many rely on action and bloodshed to cover the lack of a substantial plot and poor character development. When an author has a plot which you soon stop trying to second guess and characters who stay with you long after you've finished the book, thrillers are a pleasure to read. I started reading The Cossack thinking that I might read it over a week or so, but I'd finished it within twenty four hours and deeply resented the fact that a prior engagement meant that there had to be a break in the middle.

Make no mistake, you do get the action: my heart was in my mouth on more than one occasion. I'll never look at a tank of fish in quite the same way again and I lost count of the number of times when I thought the game must surely be up. There's a combination of factors at work here. The plot is superb and utterly convincing, with Ukraine the piggy in the middle of a game which sees the country effectively under siege from the Russians, but with a possible solution which would solve all their problems, but it's one which the United States cannot afford to see come to fruition. Sounds unlikely? Believe me, you won't have any doubts when you read The Cossack. (There are even some explanatory notes at the end of the book which explain some points about currency which you might have found confusing.)

The characters are brilliant: there isn't one who doesn't come off the page fully formed. I found myself rooting for a killer and even having some understanding of a brutal sadist and what made him that way. Strangely enough, the most shadowy character was Brooking himself - he carried the book but didn't overwhelm the story. The person I really fell for though was Ivan Shevchenko's feisty sister, Yana, a doctor in war-torn Kiev. Days after finishing The Cossack I'm still mentally involved with the characters and that's always the sign of a good book.

KJ Lawrence is a superb writer who can evoke a location in just a few words: I quickly decided that I had complete faith in the author to tell me a good story and I rather hope that we'll hear more from her and possibly of Daniel Brooking. I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy of the book to the Bookbag.

I recently enjoyed The Marsh King's Daughter by Karen Dionne: The Cossack is of the same standard.

You can read more about K J Lawrence here.

Bookinterviews.jpg K J Lawrence was kind enough to be interviewed by Bookbag.N

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Booklists.jpg The Cossack by K J Lawrence is in the Top Ten Self-Published Books 2017.


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