“Friends, associates, my lover – I’m the good man turned bad. They wanted my blood.” – ‘Never Go Back’, by Jason Beech
About the Author
Jason Beech is a seasoned crime writer born and raised in Sheffield, but now resides in New Jersey where he continues to hone his authorship. He has already released a successful coming-of-age drama by the name City of Forts, as well as Moorlands, Bullets, Teeth, & Fists, Bullets, Teeth, & Fists 2, and his work is readily available at Spelk Fiction, Shotgun Honey, Close to the Bone, The Flash Fiction Offensive, Punk Noir Magazine, and Pulp Metal Magazine.
You can find out more about Jason on Twitter @beech_jason or at his blog https://jdbeech.wordpress.com/ where he regularly posts reviews of books he ‘wished’ he had written and encourages others to share their own.
You can buy Jason’s work and his newly released book ‘Never Go Back’ from Amazon via the link here.
“A man, ginger strands drooping below his woolly hat, sat opposite me on the 3.15pm train from Manchester to Sheffield.”– ‘Never Go Back’, by Jason Beech
“Barlow Vine just killed a man – his lover’s lover. Now he’s heading from Spain back to his hometown to escape his actions in the vain hope they won’t catch up with him. Never Go Back is a wild ride featuring nurses, strange kids, in Edwardian garb, one blinding headache, and dead-eyed killers who want to use him for their own ends. It’s a cold, murderous homecoming – and he’ll need the luck of every bastard to survive.”
I would not want to reveal any spoilers, so I cannot say too much of the plot, but what I can assure you of is that it keeps you interested right until the end. The pacing is just right; with little spats of action from the opening chapter keeping you hooked until it really picks up ready for the climax at about 150 pages in. There is a pleasing twist at the end, and then another for good measure! And the hints of ‘back story’ were woven into the pages expertly; drawing you in and making the reader want to discover more and more about Barlow’s past, as well as where his actions will inevitably lead him.
This story takes place in Sheffield, which, as the synopsis alludes to, follows the main character’s journey home after living in the coastal city of Nerja, Spain (situated between Malaga and Granada). There are many subtle descriptions, actions and dialogue that has captured this backdrop, making the story and characters appear more real. As someone who grew up on the eastern coasts of both Spain and England; two similarly polarised places, I could relate to the imagery Beech puts forward on paper. The backdrop to the plot is somewhere best described as ‘gritty’ as well as authentic, highlighted by the juxtaposition of the happier, warmer and all-round brighter memories of his former life with his love ‘Maria’.
With aforementioned personal similarities in mind, it’s me worth mentioning that this book was likely not written for ‘me’. Rather, it is very clearly written from what I can imagine to be the author’s point of view; one that is synonymous with the main character and therefore appeals to this demographic more. Many of the scenes in the book entail what I can only describe as the fantasy of the reader. This has worked in favour of the book however; it is easy to ‘get to know’ Barlow as an anti-hero and live vicariously through his misdeeds. To that end, even though we are only getting the protagonist’s POV and meeting the other characters through this lens, each helps to progress the story in their own way. His friend Alex from yester-year, as well as the characters Denise, Jacquie and Surayya, provide tension, love interests and lots of action, tying the entirety of the story in.
Structure & Style
The book itself feels like quite a quick read at 342 pages. This is partly because it is not particularly descriptive, with much of what we experience as a reader being delivered through dialogue. Words such as ‘dodgy’, ‘reckoned’, ‘gob’ and much more frequently ‘bastard’ are used, but all contributes to the authenticity of you being placed in the mind of a rough around the edges protagonist. This is not necessarily a bad thing as it does mean that the book maintains a certain convention of style; this is, after all, a first-person account of covering up murder! A lot of phrases or references you won’t appreciate if outside of Britain (The BBC and Greggs sausage rolls, anyone?), but I feel this only serves to add to its charm as a ‘Brit grit’. My only critiques are that I would have liked to see more development of the tertiary characters to make them a little more three dimensional, and in truth there are some similar descriptions of action scenes throughout.
Overall this was a solid crime thriller, that although a relatively quick read, has a good quality protagonist, fast-paced action scenes and an accurate backdrop for you to fully immerse oneself in the action. A well-deserved three stars from me.
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