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Wednesday, 22 March 2017

‘Fifth Column’ by David R. Ewens

Published by Grosvenor House Publishing,
20 September 2016.
ISBN: 978-1-78263-027-0 (PB)

This is the fourth in the author’s series featuring private investigator Frank Sterling who operates from the fictitious East Kent seaside town of Sandley. It opens with Sterling’s friend Mike Strange, former spy but keeping a pub also in Sandley, meeting in a café in Waterloo with a man called Mohamed. Mohamed has, it appears, infiltrated a terrorist gang, motivated not by ideology nor by religious zeal, but purely by money, to carry out terrorist attacks for whoever pays them. This time, it appears, the planned target is somewhere on the south coast but what and when is contained on several password-protected memory sticks which Mohamed passes on to Strange. But Strange becomes aware that he is being followed and so when he returns to Sandley he passes the memory sticks to Sterling before his pursuers can catch him. Now it is Sterling who must evade capture, and who is in peril especially when Strange’s pursuers catch up with Strange and torture him until, under extreme duress, he discloses that the sticks have been passed to Sterling. So Sterling has to go on the run and, although he is able to depend on various friends including his teenage sweetheart Stacey Sunnington, now divorced and with a computer-savvy teenage daughter Olivia, time and time again he has to rely on his own courage and resourcefulness until his adventures achieve a successful but unexpected conclusion.

I think that, apart from the Waterloo station café, all the locations are fictitious. They are, however, vivid and meticulously imagined, perhaps based on real-life East Kent towns. The many characters are also strong, realistic and many-faceted. This is a lively and fast-paced read.
Reviewer: Radmila May

David R Ewens was born in Scotland and spent an early short part of his life in Australia. Subsequently he was brought up and received his full time education in East Anglia. He lives and writes in Kent, where he has been based for many years. After a career in further and adult education, including work in policy and research, he has written four novels and some short stories.
His writing has been influenced by lifelong experience of progressive deafness, eased recently by a cochlear implant.

Radmila May was born in the U.S. but has lived in the U.K. since she was seven apart from seven years in The Hague. She read law at university but did not go into practice. Instead she worked for many years for a firm of law publishers and still does occasional work for them including taking part in a substantial revision and updating of her late husband’s legal practitioners’ work on Criminal Evidence published late 2015. She has also contributed short stories with a distinctly criminal flavour to two of the Oxford Stories anthologies published by Oxpens Press – a third story is to be published shortly in another Oxford Stories anthology – and is now concentrating on her own writing.

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