Saturday, September 16, 2017

Book Review: 'Deadly Island Retreat' by Geoffrey Sleight

British author Geoffrey Sleight lives and writes in Aylesbury, the county town of Buckinghamshire, England and the home of the Roald Dahl Children's Gallery (another fine British novelist!). He is the author of eight novels of the mystery/thriller genre now after a history of working in journalism, acting, writing scripts for audio dramas and screenplays. Sleight's novels incorporate touches of history embroidered with the supernatural mysteries his pen scribes so well. Having read all of his novels, this reviewer can comfortably state that DEADLY ISLAND RETREAT is no exception - many of his constant readers will likely place this newest release of Sleight's high on their list of favorites. As is his bent, Sleight keeps his thrillers short (this one is only 139 pages) and that fact only intensifies the vigor of his novels - present the idea of the story, proceed into the characters, and spin out the suspenseful ending.

Geoffrey immediately captures our attention in his opening paragraph: ‘THERE are times in life when you wish you could turn back the clock. Reset the moment when you agreed to do something that seemed a good idea at the time, only later to find it was a big mistake. That's how the episode began after an old friend, Lawrence Keating, rang me one day. “Alex, how are you keeping? I've bought an island off the west coast of Scotland. Come and spend a few days with me.” Lawrence was the only person I knew who would have enough money to buy an island. We'd met five years earlier at a business college. The fact that we were both aged 22 and shared the same birth date in May had instantly connected us. He was the flyaway student, brilliant in sales and marketing strategies to the extent his knowledge often exceeded the tutors. But he was modest with it. Friendly, the life and soul of the party. No one could be envious or annoyed with him. “You've bought an island? That's amazing.” I was impressed, though not surprised Lawrence could do something like that. “It's not exactly a sun-baked paradise island, but fantastically atmospheric,” he said. “There's an old mansion there that needs a lot of renovation, but I've got plans in hand for it. Come and meet me.” As it happened I was between jobs. That is, having recently lost my job as manager of an office equipment store which had gone into liquidation. I wasn't a brilliant student like Lawrence, but the difference in ability didn't stop us from enjoying each other's company at the college. “Where should I meet you and when?” I asked. “Why now. No time like the present. I've got a motor launch moored at an old fishing harbour at Tullochrie on the north west coast of Scotland. The island's about five miles offshore there. It's called Fennamore. You might have heard of it.” I hadn't, but then I wasn't an expert on Scottish islands.’

The terse summary is a guidepost to the story – ‘When Alex Preston is invited to spend a short holiday on a private island owned by a friend, he looks forward to a restful break. But the only break on offer is his breaking point, stranded with ghosts, killers and a series of horrific secrets buried on the cursed island that threaten to stop him ever leaving alive.’

One of the primary reasons each of Geoffrey's books works so well is his inordinately strong ability to describe credible character upon whom the strange bizarre aspects of his tale are adhered. That is simply one reason he writes these adventures better that most. Once you have read one of his books, you are addicted. Highly recommended. Grady Harp, June 17

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.

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