Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Reviews for TAN and THE GOLDEN GRAVE

THREE REVIEWS FOR TAN:
5.0 out of 5 starsBest in a long time, February 14, 2013
This review is from: Tan – A Story of Exile, Betrayal and Revenge (Kindle Edition)
My Review: It has been awhile since I read a book I had trouble putting down at bedtime. This book is one of those. From the beginning I was drawn into the lives and world of the people of the early days of the IRA. From Liam getting run out of town to the final scene I was hooked. You always want all of the good, fight for the right, characters to end up happily ever after however since this is historical fiction you know they can not. You suffer the sadness and horror they go through while fighting for their independence from the brutal rule of the British. It is one of the best historical novels I have read in a long time and I was not ready for it to end.
 *****
REVIEW FROM AMAZON5.0 out of 5 stars Grabs you and doesn’t let go until the final page!, October 12, 2012
This review is from: Tan – A story of exile, betrayal and revenge (Kindle Edition)
I’ve just finished reading David Lawlor’s TAN and frankly I’m all done in! On page one I was transported to Balbriggan, Ireland in 1914 and thence to the Continent for the first World War and back again to Ireland for a horrifying story based on factual events.
Lawlor is a masterful storyteller and I was scarcely able to put his book down for meals or sleeping. Each character in this tale became real for me. I endured their fears and felt the bile of anger and frustration rising in the back of my throat. I smelled the cordite hanging in the air after a pitched battle, and fell exhausted back into my chair.
The awful history of the Tans meting out their twisted sense of “justice” in occupied Ireland is a story well known to all. In TAN, David Lawlor has made it personal and real. It isn’t without its moments of levity though; there were smiles and laughter enough.
I did need to look up, and clarify a few Irish slang terms early on but it didn’t detract from the story at all. I’m not even certain looking them up was necessary for the enjoyment of the story. That’s just my way. The pace of the tale is tight and well written with little “cliff hangers” tossed in here and there that made me more and more anxious as the story progressed. The immensely satisfying ending left me with an enormous smile on my face despite the fact that I am sorry to be saying farewell to a group of characters I quickly came to love.
This book is a definite 5 star read that I wholeheartedly recommend to anyone who enjoys history, action, and mystery/suspense. Get it. Read it. You’ll love it!
*****
5.0 out of 5 starsGripping historical fiction, February 7, 2013
This review is from: Tan – A story of exile, betrayal and revenge (Kindle Edition)
TAN is a gripping novel that begins before World War I and continues into the Irish War of Independence. Framed for a crime he didn’t commit, Liam is exiled to England and endures five years of trench warfare in France before making his way back to his homeland as a member of the infamous Black and Tan forces, a group that served as a brutal strong arm force for the English crown. Stationed in his hometown of Balbriggan, Liam is forced to confront his own divided loyalties, as well as those of his own family, and face the brute who framed him.
Lawlor is a fantastic storyteller. He created characters I cared about, crafting even minor players in ways that made them memorable and real. I was pleased to find that the women in the story were written with substance and compassion. Lawlor builds the action in scene after scene in a way that makes the book hard to put down. Fortunately the frequent battle scenes that create an abundance of tension and anxiety are balanced with moments of humor.
The author’s sympathies are clearly with the Irish, but the story fairly points out that both sides in a war are capable of brutality, both sides have legitimate points of view. Because Liam’s own brother sides with the British, readers face the complicated reality of families torn apart by war. No one gets off easily in this one.
Many characters speak in Irish vernacular, which took me a while to settle into, but which ensured I was immersed in Ireland. The dialect didn’t get in the way of enjoying the story, since it could all be understood in context.
TAN made me want to know more about the Irish War of Independence. Lawlor has me eager to read his next book.
*****
THREE REVIEWS FOR THE GOLDEN GRAVE:

5.0 out of 5 stars
THE GOLDEN GRAVEA post WW1 impressive historical novel and the sequel to `Tan’, The Golden Grave picks up with Liam Mannion in search of gold. A train cargo packed with enough bullion bars to persuade Liam and his war buddy to return to the horrific battlefields of France once again.Gold wasn’t the only lure; there is a gold seeking, conniving bitch named Sabine, a former lover of Liam, who has recruited a group of servicemen to carry out her dirty work.Lawlor takes his readers back in time by reliving the horrors during battles. Buried bodies, active explosives, and weapons all come alive in their search for gold. The stench and sight of war being thrown in their faces make the men sick and twisted with greed. Everyone has a plan, there are secrets and lies, and this is what kept me engaged from page one.
What differentiates a good book from a great book is unpredictability. The Golden Grave is packed with surprises throughout the story, none of which takes away from the historical details.
Who ends up with the gold, if anyone? Was it worth the return to hell?
I recommend The Golden Grave to readers who enjoy a great historical novel; it’s an entertaining way to learn history.
5.0 out of 5 stars
Splendid 20 April 2013
By diebus
“Golden Grave” by David Lawlor is a splendid thriller in a very interesting historical setting.
A prologue introduced the title theme with a short and gripping description of a train journey in Flanders in 1917. Loaded with a special “24 carat” cargo the train comes under fire and comes to an unscheduled stop.
Jumping forward in time to 1920 the author `returns’ to Liam, hero of his previous book, “Tan”, a man on the run from the law. Wanted by the police in Ireland he fled to Liverpool, where he meets up with Ernie, a soldier friend of his who has plans to go to France to locate the gold lost somewhere on the battlefields in France, asked for help in this matter by the dubious Sabine Durer.
The relationship between Sabine and Liam is complex as they once had an affair that he ended but Sabine needs the soldiers to find her locate the treasure.
This part of the novel is my favourite part, as Lawlor describes in great detail and with a lot of knowledge the aftermath of the war: the recovery of corpses, made difficult by the likely presence of unexploded mines and explosives. It is an interesting aspect of war that is lesser known and handled in literature.
It is made all the more real and emotional by the fact that the soldiers now digging once were on these battle fields and every corpse they find could be one of their old mates. As they are literally and metaphorically digging the relationships, both between the group and with other people in the area become more tense and filled with distrust. If the gold is discovered, who will have their share in it?
Lawlor is a formidable historian who knows and writes well about the weaponry and the way we would have to imagine the battle fields so soon after the war but he also has created a set of intriguing characters that can drive the plot forward easily and at the same time keep the suspense. I found myself quite drawn into the unfolding events and turns, some obvious and others more unexpected.
Having read and enjoyed “Tan”, the first instalment of this series, I found this book a great sequel in that it built cleverly on Liam’s past but took us into an unexpected direction. Lawlor’s command of English is immaculate, resulting in great and realistic dialogue and a descriptive style that brings the scene to the eye like a movie script, in fact, I could easily see this book being made into a very successful film.
This book is great entertainment as a thriller as well as a piece of history and if you like a good treasure hunt or enjoy novels set in the past then this is a must read. It is hugely enjoyable.
5.0 out of 5 stars Cracking yarn, hits all the right notes: characters, action, intrigue, setting, April 29, 2013
This review is from: The Golden Grave (A Liam Mannion Story) (Kindle Edition)
Review is based on a copy of the novel provided by the author for that purpose.
What would it take to convince a group of British ex-servicemen to return to the killing fields of Flanders after the Great War? The very location where, just two years earlier, they had endured a hellish, kill-or-be-killed existence in the trenches, knee-deep in stinking mud, senses assaulted by the pounding of artillery, and surrounded by the dead — many whose bodies were violently torn apart by shells and bullets, taking part in futile mass charges into spitting machine guns, choking on mustard gas.
What would it take? Why, gold of course. Enough of the precious metal to set a man up for a lifetime of luxury, enough to make him forget the horrors he experienced — and continues to live through in heart-stopping nightmares — in the very same clay he’ll have to dig through to recover that gold.
In “The Golden Grave,” David Lawlor (@LawlorDavid) has once again written a cracking yarn set during the post-war period, filled with exciting action, intrigue and well-drawn characters led by Liam Mannion, the protagonist of the author’s debut novel, “Tan” (see my review).
Liam, who is on the run from the British after his actions as a member of the Irish Republican Army, and his mates embark on the adventure at the behest of Sabine, a stunning temptress who ran a bar behind the lines where British soldiers would go to enjoy a brief respite from the mayhem of the front. Many a man had his eye on Sabine, and she was more than happy to encourage their interest while selling them beer and cigarettes.
Sabine’s a survivor who just happens to know about a shipment of gold that went missing in the aftermath of the British offensive on Messines Ridge, which has been called “the greatest mining attack” in history. Nineteen large mines were detonated within seconds of each other along a narrow front, temporarily collapsing German resistance as well as the bunker hiding the gold.
There are several sub-plots in play and Mr. Lawlor does an exceptional job keeping the reader in suspense, never giving too much away while at the same time letting us know things are not what they seem. Although the pace of the story moves smoothly, the truth is revealed slowly, to great effect, and there are more than a few surprises in store right up to the end.
The author sets a wonderful scene, especially in the ruined battlefield. Two years after the war life is returning to normal, but the scars are never far from view: flowers bloom around shell holes and livestock graze in fields lined by trenches choking with skeletal bodies and discarded war equipment. The war also left indelible marks on the men who fought it, from the aforementioned nightmares to other, more serious behaviors. As he did in “Tan,” Mr. Lawlor explores the emotional cost of the Great War, which for many men was both the greatest and most exciting undertaking of their lives and the most horrible.
“The Golden Grave” is a deeply satisfying story that hits all the right marks: action, adventure, plot twists and surprises, great setting, a bit of romance and memorable characters. I loved it and recommend it wholeheartedly. I became a fan of Mr. Lawlor after reading “Tan,” and hope he keeps writing stories like that and “The Golden Grave.” For more from him, check out his blog, HistoryWithATwist.wordpress.com.