Even by Andrew Grant

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Even by Andrew Grant

Buy Even by Andrew Grant at Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com

Category: General Fiction
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Iain Wear
Reviewed by Iain Wear
Summary: Lee Child's younger brother gives us a tightly plotted, well-paced, intriguing story that will thrill the reader and make big brother just a touch jealous.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 400 Date: July 2009
Publisher: Macmillan
ISBN: 978-0330469586

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Sibling rivalry can be either a wonderful or a horrible thing. It can cause massive arguments, or it can inspire a sibling to stretch themselves and achieve more than they might usually have done. We see the benefits with this debut novel from Andrew Grant, who is the brother of Lee Child, author of the successful Jack Reacher series.

Late one night, David Trevellyan sees a dead body in a New York City alleyway. As a former Navy officer, he goes in to take a closer look, just as the police arrive. He's confident he can prove his innocence and will soon be released, as if the police won't accept the truth, his contacts at the British Embassy will secure his release. But when he is passed to FBI agents on the basis that the victim was one of their undercover agents, he realises he's in more trouble than he thought.

This feeling deepens when he is snatched from the street by a group of apparent mercenaries shortly after escaping from the FBI. He discovers that the murder was part of a much larger conspiracy and manages to capture some of the mercenaries to take to the FBI to prove his innocence. After the FBI doubt his story and fail to act quickly enough to prevent other deaths, Trevellyan decides to unravel the mystery himself and prove he was right, no matter what it takes.

Much of the book suggests that Andrew Grant has been inspired, or at least encouraged, by the style and success of his brother. David Trevellyan and Jack Reacher are similar characters, preferring to work alone and counting results over other concerns. They may be from different countries and parts of the Armed Forces, but both have a don't get mad, get even philosophy, which is frequently seen as they share a habit for getting themselves unjustly accused of things.

Whilst the style and basic idea may be similar, Andrew Grant is the better writer. There are brief flashes at the start of each chapter to Trevellyan's past, which makes him feel like a far more rounded character than in many novels of this type, which don't have this. For someone who prefers to work alone, he deals with people quite well, so he feels less mechanical and this allows the reader more sympathy towards him. It also allows for smarter and, on occasion, more amusing dialogue as Trevellyan engages in some verbal sparring with both the FBI agents and the mercenary leader, which is quite good fun.

Grant has a great eye for a story, pitching us that little piece of Trevellyan's past at the start of each chapter and then relating it in to the part of the current story that follows on from this. He builds everything together very nicely, making it feel as if there is not a word wasted and, even though the pace isn't always breathless, there is always something going on. Trevellyan is a man of action and if he's not in the midst of events, you can't escape the feeling that he's about to be, which makes for an exciting reading experience.

It's well plotted book, with a couple of delightful little twists that I didn't see coming, but without making them so ridiculous that they seem unrealistic. Grant is excellent at leading the reader down what looks like a straight path whilst disguising the sharp turn where you think it ends. The ending is particularly wonderful, with Grant leading the reader on and then leaving them hanging beautifully. There has to be another book in the pipeline and whilst I don't know how far in the future that may be, I know it will feel like too long to wait. Grant has done what all publisher love; with Even he's not just sold one book to the reader, he's sold two.

The one downside to books like this is that they aren't entirely realistic in terms of rogue people wandering around doing things the law enforcement authorities can't. Some of the things Trevellyan does make him feel more like Superman that just a regular guy. But if you can suspend disbelief for long enough, or are just looking for a decent untaxing read for the beach, Andrew Grant leaves you with a tightly plotted, very exciting thriller that hooks you and doesn't let go. Sibling rivalry can be a wonderful thing; look out big brother, you've got yourself some competition.

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

For other new American crime writers, check out the Lee Child edited Killer Year.

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Buy Even by Andrew Grant at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Even by Andrew Grant at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Even by Andrew Grant at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Even by Andrew Grant at Amazon.com.


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