A crime thriller, in which two ex-Royal Marines are pitted against a former child soldier, and one of the most brutal gangs in Manchester.
When Byron Mason’s seventeen year-old nephew, Philip, becomes embroiled in a murder, he calls his uncle for help. Byron returns to the city of his birth and, having been thrown back together with his estranged family, he finds his nephew is being hunted not only by the police, but also by a vicious gangster, Ritchie McLaughlin, the uncle of the murdered boy, both of whom believe Philip to be guilty of the crime. Shortly after Byron’s arrival, Philip disappears, leaving Byron and his firefighter friend, Adam Sterling, to track him down before time runs out.
As part of her investigation into Philip’s role in the murder, newly appointed Detective Chief Inspector Siobhan Fahey also uncovers the brutal past of Philip’s friend, Mugisa, whose very survival has depended on burying his own emotions and controlling the people around him. She quickly realises that Mugisa is a very dangerous young man.
The search for Philip is made all the more perilous when Ritchie McLaughlin decides he has unfinished business with Byron, and is bent on exacting revenge. Byron and Adam are faced with tough decisions as they fight to keep Philip and his family safe; legal and moral boundaries are crossed in their battle against ruthless adversaries. In the end, though, the greatest peril comes from an unexpected quarter…
Praise for Brotherhood
Brotherhood: Review.Brotherhood is the first Novel by David Beckler; it’s a strong debut. One of those books where you simultaneously wonder how he does it and damn him at the same time: the dinner’s burnt, the dog’s crapped all over the new hall carpet, and the baby’s screaming. In the meantime you’re at the end of another chapter—just one more. I promise.
I won’t rehash a summary of the plot as the blurb does that, probably better than I could. In many way it’s a fairly typical thriller: flawed but moral vigilante, Byron Mason, up against overwhelming odds aided only by his loyal sidekick, firefighter and former Marine, Adam Sterling. Think Batman and Robin transplanted from Gotham city to the rainy streets of Manchester.
Both characters are well drawn and clearly the author’s own experience as a firefighter has been brought to bear on the latter’s character. It’s typical of the book that none of this verisimilitude is allowed to overwhelm the story or stop the action. Tom Clancy might well have turned this into a 250,000 word doorstopper, but mercifully Beckler demonstrates a well judged sympathy and restraint with just enough detail to render believable characters in a world which is instantly recognisable.
One also gets the impression that Mr Beckler knows the crime scene in Manchester, (door supervision duties in the author’s bio, suggest more than a passing familiarity with the seedier side of the city) the clubs, the steroid enhanced thugs, and the utterly ruthless desire to hang onto power whatever the cost. It’s a grim world and there’s always something lurking in the shadows, which mercifully Byron and Adam are there to protect us from.
There’s also a plucky and determined heroine, in the shape of Detective Inspector Siobhan Fahey, to cover the corners of the city our determined heroes can’t reach. As well as being a prickly and tuff customer, who’s fighting her own demons and the usual battles with entrenched prejudice, there are signs that beneath the surface she’s had to make considerable sacrifices for her own career. And in this respect the book seems relevant and modern. One senses all the characters have had to fight their own private battles to get where they are, which gives them, I think, added credibility.
Although none are characters we haven’t met before, what raises the book above the ordinary thriller is the dark, sinister presence of the book’s central antagonist, Mugisa. A former child soldier, brutalised and terrifyingly let loose on an unsuspecting and woefully unprepared population. In the hands of another author Mugisa might just have been a blunt instrument of retribution, incapable of empathy. Beckler’s skill, however, is to make the reader sympathise with Mugisa, rather than demonise him. Small snippets of Mugisa’s childhood in Africa are skilfully interwoven into the narrative at key points and the reader finds himself moving from curiosity at the beginning towards a real gut punch at the end. I shan’t spoil it, but the ending is both unexpected and moving. Days after reading I’m still drawn back and haunted by it.
My one complaint would be that I wanted to know more about some of the characters and their often tense and complicated histories. Clearly there wasn’t time for that as the narrative whips along at lightening pace. I suspect Mr Beckler may be setting us up for book two— reminding one of the old mantra of all great entertainers: Leave em wanting more.
All in all an enjoyable read, and like all good books leaves us thinking not just about the small and large dramas played out in the narrative, but also, perhaps, some rather uncomfortable truths about the world we live in today.
Amazon Customer Review – 4 stars
Excellent readPicked on this book while browsing and really enjoyed it. The characters of Byron and Adam, the ex marines, are well drawn as are the two police officers Siobhan and Eddie. I would look forward to reading more about these two pairings. I thought it was a clever idea to open each chapter with a gradual storyline of how Mugisa’s character hardened as a result of his time as a boy soldier. I read it in the space of twenty four hours as I wanted to know what happened to the characters I had developed an interest in. All in all, a very good read.
Amazon Customer Review – 5 stars
Extremely entertaining!Hard to put down, fast moving story. I rarely read any novel twice, but enjoyed this one so much that I definitely will. Couldn’t help thinking it would make a marvelous film. Am eagerly awaiting Mr Beckler’s next novel…..
Amazon Customer Review – 5 stars
You’ll zap through itA suspenseful story that cracks on at a relentless pace through the mean streets of Manchester. Without going into details (it’s there in the blurb), my favorite characters were the ruthless Mugisa, former boy soldier, and Rebecca, Phillip’s mother. Mugisa’s early childhood is interwoven with the Manchester narrative and when you learn what he went through, what he saw, what he was forced to become before he came to England, you can’t help but sympathize with him. It’s no surprise that for him life has become cheap. It’s this aspect that gives the novel the ‘added value’ and raises Brotherhood above similar novels in the genre.
As another reviewer has said, I also would have liked more about the internal world of some of the characters, but this would have probably added another 200 pages. Above all, I wanted more on how Mugisa’s background in Africa influences his thinking and actions now.
I hope Mr Beckler has a sequel up his sleeve telling us what happens to Mugisa in later life.
Amazon Customer Review – 4 stars