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Sunday 19 May 2013

A Hiding to Nothing by David Wallen

It’s always good to read a book where the author does such a wonderful job of making you want to visit a particular town or country, but it’s equally enjoyable when he writes about somewhere you've been. You can place the characters in the location with such ease that you’re not imagining them there, you’re almost there with them! This was so true of this book. Paris, the French Alps, Switzerland are all places I know, so I felt immediately at home in this thriller. 

While a young couple (Marc and Frances) are attempting a potentially lethal off-piste ski run in Les Deux Alpes in the French Alps, a keen and mean Russian is ransacking their apartment in France. He is looking for something Marc has and doesn’t intend to stop at turning over their home. When the couple appears on missing posters in the ski resort, a weekend skier, Don Ward, finds himself curiously intrigued by their supposed disappearance and embarks on an unofficial investigation. A P.I he is most definitely not, and he and his Estonian girlfriend find themselves way out of their depth and trying to keep a step ahead of one particular Russian and his yes-men. He has to hope that his obsession with getting to the bottom of a young couple’s disappearance won’t mean a tragic end to himself or his girlfriend.

This book draws you in from the very first page and holds you in its grip right to the end. You are transported to a number of European settings: you’re on the go the whole time! The unscrupulous Russians are somewhat stereotyped as ruthless stop-at-nothing thugs, but they’re essential players to the plot. And Don Ward as the struggling investigator of a mystery is rather endearing. He’s never delusional about trying to be a hero: he just wants to get to the bottom of it all. As an employee of a wing of the UN, he has many humanitarian qualities.

My only reservations are that the ending left me with an ‘oh, is that it’ sort of feeling and the whole book needs a massively intensive copy-edit.

It’s Wallen’s first novel and he should be very pleased with it. It’s compelling, the characters believable, the scenes very well set, and all-in-all, it’s a very enjoyable read.

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