Chasing Heart: 1 (Ellen Martin Disasters) by Mark Lingane
|Chasing Heart: 1 (Ellen Martin Disasters) by Mark Lingane|
|Reviewer: Ani Johnson|
|Summary: If you fancy a thriller rom-com for the beach look no further. This one offers a South American uprising, some life-or-death moments, a lawyer who finds her soul and quite a few smiles. All you need to do is shut out the world, turn off your brain and escape.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 280||Date: March 2013|
|Publisher: Insync Holdings|
|External links: Author's website|
Ellen Martin is a driving, ambitious US lawyer, so when her boss sends her to the Colombian town of Barrancabermeja (Barranca for short, mercifully) for a touch of charity work it would be career threatening to protest too strongly. Besides it only amounts to getting someone out of prison. Soon after arriving Ellen realises that there's more than one person who needs rescuing; she can add herself to the list. Luckily for her Barranca is also the home of her personal trainer's nephew and, luckier still, he has a housemate called Alex. Indeed during Ellen's stay Alex is going to be more than useful. Once Barranca really shows its true colours Alex is going to be indispensable.
Australian author Mark Lingane has done a genre jump. Chasing Heart is a whole subject leap away from his last novel, the SF/detective noir mash-up Beyond Belief. Not only do we move on from the world of the detective but Chasing Heart is set in a real world and a real Colombian town that has actually suffered a troubled history peppered with violent episodes. Not the sort of place to spend a family holiday but just the sort of place for a novel's backdrop, providing some great thrills and culture shocks for poor Ellen.
It starts slowly as we follow workaholic Ellen on the daily drudge from business meeting to personal trainer to business meeting to working long hours at home; necessary as it emphasises her monotone lifestyle. This doesn’t last long though: once she becomes a fish out of water in Colombia, things perk up and, on the appearance of Alex (a musician and Ax to his mates) we're in glorious technicolour. It's very Romancing the Stone (a comedic feel-good adventure movie for those of us… ok, those of you too young to remember it), Ellen and Ax falling into the Michael Douglas and Kathleen Turner type casting perfectly. Although the quest may be different, the mutual indifference packed with promise, entertainment value and edge of the seat fun are similar.
Indeed, there are crooked cops, local mafia-like figures, guns, kidnapping and murders scattered liberally to give the novel an edge and yet our eyes remain on Ax and Ellen. Why? It's simple: Mark Lingane excels at witty banter. Ok, there are a couple of minor plot holes surrounding admissions. (The self-contained Ellen seems happy to tell virtual strangers the duration of her current patch of celibacy and Ax tells Ellen something that's normally a secret kept even from family members.) However such presumed slips become immaterial in the joy of the on-page relationship that provided my first ever laugh out loud moment connected with baked goods.
This is not the book for anyone seeking a serious debate around human rights and the gun trade or anyone just seeking a serious debate, full stop, but, just in case such a person is passing, Mark slips in a couple of points. There are also some neatly themed chapter titles which I leave you to discover.
I have a feeling that Mr Lingane realises he's struck a seam of character gold: Ellen Martin returns in his next book Desert Heart and, to quote the blurb …she ends up in deep trouble. But who will save her now? I think I know, in fact I hope I know and I look forward to finding out.
If you enjoy a thriller that's a little outside the ordinary, then we recommend Mark's [[Beyond Belief. If you have already and enjoy witty banter with your thrills, then we suggest Harry Lipkin, Private Eye: The Oldest Detective in the World by Barry Fantoni for your next stop.
You can read more book reviews or buy Chasing Heart: 1 (Ellen Martin Disasters) by Mark Lingane at Amazon.co.uk.
You can read more book reviews or buy Chasing Heart: 1 (Ellen Martin Disasters) by Mark Lingane at Amazon.com.
You can read more about Mark Lingane here.
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