Source: Review copy
Publication: 1ST September 2019 from Endeavour Media
I’m dead, for all intents and purposes. Nobody knows I’m alive…
Ben Bracken is on the run for his life. Keeping a low profile from the agencies seeking to silence him, he finds refuge in the quiet town of Horning. Working in a boat yard and lodging with an older couple, Eric and Dot, Ben uses this time to plan. He needs to escape, and realising his only chance will reveal his whereabouts to some unsavoury characters, he plans every detail. Little does he know, even that won’t be enough…
Just before he walks away, murder strikes the quiet town. Ben cannot leave until he is sure that he has not brought any further trouble to the townsfolk. Will he be able to exact revenge? One thing is certain, there is a lot more going on in the town of Horning than meets the eye…
The Penny Black is action packed from beginning to end, keeping you guessing right the way through.
I really enjoyed the 2nd book in the Ben Bracken series, Morte Point, so when I received a copy of The Penny Black, I was really looking forward to the last in this trilogy. Just as well then that it did not disappoint. Ben Bracken is our protagonist. A rogue soldier, endowed with a bigger than average sense of loyalty and patriotism he is on a one man crusade against wrong doing.
He no longer knows whether his one or two friends in high places will countenance an approach from him; he has so far out on a limb to do what he believed was right. Now he is in the sleepy village of Horning. Secure for the moment in a new identity and with a manual labouring job that while not glamorous, keeps him in beer money.
Bracken is harbouring a lifetime of regrets; he’s been at a very low ebb but he is buoyed up by the kindness he is receiving from an elderly couple who have provided him with a place to stay. His peaceful life starts to unravel though when one night he interrupts a group of lads up to no good in the village.
Suddenly his low key existence has disappeared and this sleepy village has woken up to a nightmare. When Bracken realises what has happened and why he will have no alternative but to seek redress.
The Penny Black is a full on action pack thrill ride with stunning fight sequences that are almost filmic and a pace that would challenge Mo Farrah on a good day. This is visceral, edge of the seat writing which may, at least once, rely on a very happy coincidence, but once you are embedded in the explosive action it doesn’t matter; you are just rooting for Bracken to succeed.
Robert Parker has a clear sense of his anti-hero and that comes across in the books. I found myself rooting for him, even though I know he’s been responsible for some terrible actions.
Verdict: A fast read for a twisting, action packed and explosive book. Bracken is back with a bang, but for how long?
Robert Parker is a married father of three, who lives in a village near Manchester, UK. The author of the Ben Bracken books A Wanted Man and Morte Point, and the standalone post-Brexit country-noir Crook’s Hollow, he enjoys a rural life on an old pig farm (now minus pigs), writing horrible things between school runs.
He writes full time, as well as organising and attending various author events across the UK – while boxing regularly for charity. Passionate about inspiring a love of the written word in young people, he spends a lot of time in schools across the North West, encouraging literacy, story-telling, creative-writing and how good old fashioned hard work tends to help good things happen.