The Children's Crusade by Elliott Hall

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The Children's Crusade by Elliott Hall

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Category: General Fiction
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Louise Laurie
Reviewed by Louise Laurie
Summary: Private Investigator Felix Strange is a man on a mission. It's complex, dangerous and extremely sensitive as it involves a young, charismatic leader of a religious cult - who may be too young to shave but has hundreds, perhaps even thousands of individuals hanging onto his every word.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 352 Date: April 2011
Publisher: John Murray
ISBN: 978-1848540750

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We back-track several years to get the low-down and history on Felix. It's interesting, very interesting. He's like some sort of American 007 but not all of his plans have been successful. Some have back-fired and he has the scars to prove it. In fact although in his prime years, Felix could be healthier and is forced to take regular medication. And throughout the story Hall tells us why that is. Chapter Two, which sees Felix in Nevada opens with the no-nonsense line I came to Las Vegas to kill a man. But who? And why? We get the answers all in Hall's good time.

The opening chapters have a definite sense of danger about them. Felix needs to really have eyes in the back of his head to simply remain alive. All of his past training comes into play here in order to come up with the goods. We soon learn that there's a trade-off proposed. But is there some wriggle-room for negotiation? I immediately liked Hall's natural style. Fluid, clever but not smart-arse clever, if you get my drift. I particularly enjoyed his descriptions. He gives a terrific overview of Las Vegas and its in-built tackiness and falseness. Here's a taster - Cocktail waitresses navigated the narrow channels between the booths, switching on their smiles whenever instinct sensed proximity to a tip. And there's plenty more where that came from.

Felix (is that his real name?) travels widely throughout great chunks of America on this current mission. Dodgy companies, secret deals, the Middle East, the FBI and much more are all in the mix which gives the book a thriller element. But the writing is both subtle and enjoyable. The main characters are engaging. I wanted to keep turning the page to find out what was going to happen next.

I also think that the whole religious cult/crusade idea works very well. It's very more-ish. And when the leader of hundreds - perhaps even thousands of individuals, many of whom are old enough to be the leader's father or mother speaks, everyone almost holds their breath in awe. There are numerous tense and secret meetings which take place between Felix and others who we know sometimes have a questionable past. There's a lovely line on page 20 (courtesy of Felix) which reads 'So how's the assassination going?' he finally asked, as if I were trimming wisteria. Guns, knives and very quick reflexes all play a part in this book. It's all very effective.

As Felix gets deeper and deeper into this religious cult and its aims for the wider world, it's fascinating to read some of the follower's individual stories. What would make a grown man or woman willingly leave everything of their former life behind and hang on the word of a twelve year old boy? This psychological element is extremely interesting and some of us can relate to real-life similar scenarios which just ups the ante. I loved the tile, by the way. I found the second part of the book to be more action-packed and overall, I found this an engaging and enjoyable read courtesy of Hall's natural storytelling style. Recommended.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.

If this book appeals then try America, America by Ethan Canin.

Buy The Children's Crusade by Elliott Hall at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Children's Crusade by Elliott Hall at

Buy The Children's Crusade by Elliott Hall at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Children's Crusade by Elliott Hall at


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