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Saturday 22 November 2014

The Spark by John Kenny


This book has inspired a new genre for me: Books You Never Want To End.

The firefighting backdrop for dramas, be it on television, film or in books always appeals me. 'Backdraft' has always been a favourite of mine (although, Kurt Russell may have had something to do with that). This excellently written book had me smitten.

Donny Robertson is a dedicated fireman, and when he is seriously injured and his best friend, Fitz, the captain of his unit, is killed in a fire, his dedication to his job spills over into a pursuit to find the answers into why and/or how the callout ended so tragically. But the route is a perilous one. He becomes a watched man and a hunted one. What is it he’s uncovering and why does he have to be silenced?

There’s no doubt that writing about something in which you have a lifetime experience…or rather, a working lifetime experience…gives a reader a tremendous insight and understanding into the subject. This author does it with incredible skill. As a firefighter of twenty-five years’ standing, he really does know what he’s talking about. He doesn’t just profile the bones of the job: what stands out in this novel, is the dedication, fearlessness, bravery, selflessness, and courage of firefighters along with the bond, camaraderie, friendship and spirit that develops in a unit. I wouldn’t be surprised if each of the firemen characterised in this book is based on a real person, because that’s how the characters come over: as real and personable. I’d be happy to be rescued by any of them.

But, on top of all that, is a very solid, well-paced plot that keeps you on your toes to the very end. There’s everything in this book: murder, crime, revenge, humour, wit, heroism, and love. The dialogue is real, the emotions tangible, the characters believable.

I have one gripe, however. This is the author’s first (and brilliant) but ONLY (to date) novel. I want more...soon.

If there’s one book you need to read this year, it’s this one.

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