Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Where Dead Men Meet - Mark Mills

Sent to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review

Publisher: Headline

Copyright: Mark Mills, 2016

ISBN: 978-0755392353

Format: Hardback, 435pp

Genre: Thriller/Historical Fiction

Rating: 4/5

Summed up in a few words
Revenge. Family. War. Travel. Identity.

First Impressions
I was enthralled with this book, so many great elements came together here to create a solid and enjoyable read. A war strained Europe setting. A complex main character who is on a mission to find his real identity. A collection of great secondary characters who either help or hinder his progress. Fearless killers. Family. Revenge and redemption. Not a ground-breaking book, just a well written and engaging historical fiction piece that draws in the reader till the very end.

Book Synopsis
1912. A baby is left on the steps of a nunnery.

1937. Luke Hamilton - an air intelligence officer at the British Embassy in Paris - finds himself the target of an assassination attempt. A clear case of mistaken identity, or so it first appears. As Luke is hunted from Paris, through Germany and to Italy, moving across a continent sliding towards war, he comes to learn that the answers lie deep in a past that predates his abandonment as a baby on the steps of an orphanage. And the question he can't answer is why they have come for him now, having spared him twenty-five years ago?

Set against a vivid backdrop of Europe on the cusp of the Second World War, Where Dead Men Meet is a return to the superior intelligence thriller from the highly acclaimed author of the bestselling The Savage Garden.

My Thoughts
Where Dead Men Meet is quite a bit more thriller than it is historical fiction. Though the book is filled with historical context which concerns the Second World War and the various horrors and complications the war brought to Europe, the main event here is Luke Hamilton. Hamilton seems to attract danger/threats with ease and throughout the entirety of the plot he finds himself the target of many different killers. Hamilton's troubles extend far beyond his birth and it is quite the journey across Europe to discover the truth.

After Hamilton is the target of several assassination attempts in Paris, he is saved by one of his would be assassins and sent to Germany for protection. Unfortunately the individual who is tasked with Hamilton's protection has unfinished business with the assassin and believe Hamilton to be the enemy. From there the plot is rife with danger, threats, death and uncertainty as Hamilton struggles to obtain a grasp on his steadily crumbling life. Where Dead Men Meet takes the reader across war strung Europe, in and out of cross-hairs and down memory lane for one of the best WW2 thrillers I have read this year. 

Mark Mills has a quality and gripping writing style that focuses on character interactions and reactions. He is excellent at building up and breaking down his characters and showing the reader that all is not what it originally seems. MM's writing is nothing groundbreaking but that said, I was gripped, invested and impressed with the plot development and how he organised and inserted his characters into the overall story line. I appreciated the fact that Hamilton had other smaller story-lines and episodes threaded though the plot to complement his presence and join the large and bold story arc together. 

There are two distinct atmospheres included, the smaller more immediate tone is that of anger/revenge and the larger (national) tone was fear and uncertainty for the future. Hamilton is rapidly losing the life he once had and when he goes to re-assemble the pieces, his life looks completely different and I appreciated the way that Hamilton dealt with that scenario. There are many different themes included in this piece from family, war and revenge to murder, survival and identity. Mark Mills got a nice balance of action, thrills and detail along with character development. Hamilton is complex and he evolves nicely over the course of the book.

The characters in Where Dead Men Meet are what kept me invested, so if you don't really like character driven stories then this won't be for you. Hamilton is not going down without a fight. Pippi is grieving and wants justice in any form. Borodin has had a change of heart and wants to make up for a life of wrongs. Each of them had me hooked and along with the fast paced plot, I found myself thoroughly enjoying the book.

Overall, I would recommend this book to both thriller and historical fiction lovers. It doesn't re-write the book on WW2 fiction, but it sits nicely within the ranks of other books in the genre. Thank you to Headline for sending me a copy for review. Mark Mills is a talented and gripping author and I look forward to reading more of his material. If you want a story that is complex, entertaining and engaging then please pick up Where Dead Men Meet and tell me what you thought.

Pick up a copy of the book here: Amazon UK/Amazon US/Goodreads 

About the Author: Mark Mills graduated from Cambridge University in 1986. He has lived in both Italy and France, and has written for the screen. His first novel, The Whaleboat House, won the 2004 Crime Writers' Association Award for Best Novel by a debut author. His second, The Savage Garden, was a Richard and Judy Summer Read and a no. 1 bestseller. Under the name Mark B. Mills, he has written the comic novel, Waiting for Doggo. He lives near Oxford with his wife and two children. (Official Bio)

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