Woodcutter by Shaun Baines - a review

Book details :

Genre : Fiction / crime

Publisher : Thistle Publishing, UK

Pub date : June 7, 2018

ISBN : 9781786080677

Paperback : 290 pages

Book description :

A gritty, contemporary crime thriller set in Newcastle Upon Tyne. 

Some family trees are meant to fall....

On the run from his criminal family, Daniel Dayton returns home to Newcastle Upon Tyne when his abandoned daughter is attacked.

But his family have problems of their own. Targeted by a brutal mercenary, their empire is destined to be destroyed should Daniel refuse to help. Betrayed by his parents, despised by his brother, in love with his sister-in-law. Home has become a dangerous place to be.

Daniel wants his daughter safe. And he wants his revenge, but in the shadowy streets of Newcastle, things are never what they seem.

My review

Woodcutter by Shaun Baines is a dark and incredibly twisted drama that details the workings of the Newcastle based Dayton criminal empire. The protagonist of the story is Daniel Dayton, the quintessential black sheep of the family, who tried to leave the life of crime behind and start afresh in the relative wilderness of Scotland as a 'Tree Surgeon'. But something happens, as it so often and inevitably does and Daniel is forced to return to Newcastle to settle scores with someone who has been haunting (and hunting) his family.

With all his flaws and twists, Daniel is a character that invokes a strange kind of sympathy in the reader. Perhaps it is the persevering human need to find good in even the most improbable places, or maybe it is the appeal of the bad boy trying to turn good. Whatever it is, much to my chagrin, I found myself siding with him, and almost hoping that he would succeed in his extremely dubious and unsavoury mission. Not just Daniel, but all the characters are set out in such vivid detail that you feel like you would recognise them if they walked into a room. I suppose there is some unavoidable stereotyping when you describe mob bosses, their families and their cronies, but other than that, they make up an interesting bunch of people to read about (although not to hang around with).

The writing style is simple and straight forward. But it is not as fast paced as I would have expected in a novel described as a thriller. There were times when the attention to detail became a handicap and the details digressed from the actual point of the story. There was a lot of build up to some excitement as the novel went on, but the end seemed a little sudden, quite anti-climactic and even more of a deus ex machina than Tolkien's eagles. I would certify it as a good first effort, being the author's debut novel, but Godfather it is not. My verdict is that it is a one-time read for a lazy day, no more than that.

A free e-book version of this novel was provided to me by Thistle Publishing in exchange for a review. The opinions expressed are my own.


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