Sunday, July 15, 2018

Book Review: 'Bang and Burn: A Tom Stiles Spy Thriller (Tom Stiles Thrillers Book 1)' by Arthur Bozikas

Australian author Arthur Bozikas is the CEO of a Non-Government Organisation (NGO), having earned his Master's Degree in Management while finding time to polish his writing skills. BAND AND BURN is not only his published debut – it is also the opening of a series he calls the Tom Stiles Spy Thriller series. Arthur lives in Sydney, Australia.

Termed a ‘back-story into a life of espionage’, Arthur’s site describes his foray into espionage literature: ‘The first of the TOM STILES SPY THRILLER series, is an action-packed contemporary international thriller set in the bustling metropolis of Sydney, Australia. Tom Stiles, is a conflicted charter who measures materialism against ethics and desire versus love, lust and passion. His progression from suburban family man to government paid assassin is a brutal tale of emotional disintegration.’

Whether or not a new writer can capture the attention of readers is often determined by the choice of opening into the character who will dominate the series. Arthur sets the mood with Tome Stiles’ extracurricular life in the opening lines – ‘Lightning speared through the worn blinds of the Motel Voyager. Tom Stiles fastened his Jaeger-LeCoultre around his wrist, his face pulsing between light and dark. Rain plunged down outside. “Natasha, summer’s over,” Tom said, without turning from the storm outside. “I’m glad; I hate the heat.” Tom looked over the grey-brown carpet and followed the trail of hat, dress, bra and stockings to the bed. She lay beneath the sheets with her arm stroking the pillow which still retained the impression of his head. “It means I have to go now.” Natasha turned to the bedside table, unclipped a cigarette from her diamond-studded cigarette case and lit it. “So I was just your seasonal lover, is that it?” “You are more than that, Tash, but we knew this day was coming.” “Save me the, ‘it’s not you, I still love my wife’ speech!” “I have to return to my daughters.” “Don’t give me that, Tom. Don’t tell me you have to leave; you’re volunteering to leave. You could take me with you…’ Why this opener is important is obvious as the plot is revealed.

‘Tom Stiles is a complex man and certainly not your typical family man. He is a businessman with two successful tours in Afghanistan, well equipped with an impressive arsenal of military hand-to-hand set of combat skills, while also being a volunteer firefighter. Tom’s life has been profoundly affected by the deaths of those closest to him—his parents, his brother and his beloved wife, Helen—after which he’s found that his affinity for the morals of the world has gravely shifted, resulting in him bedding countless women while in a less-than-satisfying sexual relationship with his business partner and surrogate mother to his twin girls, Victoria. But, it’s not until the car crash and death of Natasha, one of his sexual sojourns, that Tom’s life comes to a head. Suddenly, he’s neck deep with the Chechen mafia as well as a criminal mastermind with links to international terrorism, while at the same time the Australian Prime Minister is asking him to serve his country, once again, as Chair on a new International Fraud Taskforce. Tom is left wondering if there’s more to the PM’s offer than it first seems.’

Keen sense of danger mixed with a subtle often dry humor in his dialogue makes this book not only a fine introduction to an important new ‘hero’ in Tom Stiles but also shines a light on an accomplished author who writes very well indeed! Grady Harp, June 18

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.