Arabesque by Colin Mulhern

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Arabesque by Colin Mulhern

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Category: Teens
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Nigethan Sathiyalingam
Reviewed by Nigethan Sathiyalingam
Summary: A cracking thriller, that is gritty, action-packed and exciting to read.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 303 Date: September 2012
Publisher: Catnip
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1846471483

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When a group of amateur criminals find themselves suddenly short of twenty grand for an ambitious deal with a weapons dealer, one of them has the bright idea to kidnap a pair of semi-celebrity teenage girls, Amy May and Mia, to extort money from their wealthy parents. But when the kidnappers make a mess of the situation the girls find themselves in the hands of a decidedly more sinister villain. Galloway likes to think of himself as a higher class of criminal and when he realises that Amy May is an Olympic standard gymnast, he decides to take advantage of the situation, using a combination of sly manipulation, threats and blackmail to coerce the girls into working for him. Galloway isn't a fool and he has all the cards in his hand, but somehow Amy May has to push herself to the limit to save not just herself, but her best friend too.

I really loved Colin Mulhern's debut novel for teenagers, Clash, which despite having a teenage cage fighter as one of its main characters, was a surprisingly thoughtful story. He surprised me again with Arabesque, which is unashamedly action-packed, even though the two protagonists are teenage gymnasts. Arabesque hits the ground running, with just a couple of pages to introduce the characters before the kidnapping that sparks an increasingly violent and dangerous sequence of events. The pace pretty much doesn't let up until the very last page, and Mulhern expertly ramps up the tension, not just relying on well-written action scenes, but clever plotting too.

The characters aren't particularly complex or original. However, they are sharply written and brought to life vividly. Galloway is your typical criminal overlord, but he really does ooze menace, and is made all the more dangerous by his intelligence. Amy May is determined, fiery and has no intention of giving up, the sort of characteristics you would expect from a high level athlete. Her father used to work for a covert military unit, and she's learnt a thing or two in self-defence from him. But it's her intelligence and ability to think clearly under high-pressure situations that will be her only hope in winning this battle of wits against Galloway, who has total power over her as long as he controls the fate of Mia. But Galloway will do well not to underestimate Mia; she's always been the shadow to her more successful friend, but Mia is determined to fight for control of her fate.

While the plot has a fair share of exciting twists (I particularly enjoyed the welcome cameo from Kyle and Alex from Clash), I wasn't a fan of the unexpected cliffhanger at the conclusion, which left the story without any real closure.

It isn't what you would call 'great literature', but that doesn't prevent Arabesque from being a gripping and highly enjoyable novel.

'Arabesque definitely had me feeling a bit of nostalgia for Alex Rider: the one and only teenage spy; Stormbreaker by Anthony Horowitz is the first in the series. Sudden Death (Striker) by Nick Hale also has a young sportsperson turned action hero, and comes highly recommended by The Bookbag.

And of course, if you enjoyed Colin Mulhern's writing style, then I would definitely recommend taking a look at Clash, which I thought was brilliant.

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Buy Arabesque by Colin Mulhern at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Arabesque by Colin Mulhern at


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