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Lindsey's Literary Leanings

Book Reviews - Contemporary Fiction / Biographies / Autobiographies

  • Lindsey Skelton-Smith

The Messenger (Author: John Guthrie)

Engaging, Easy-To-Read, Action Packed

Genre: Contemporary Fiction/Mystery

The Messenger by John Guthrie

Sandy had to get away from his home and his warring parents. From the arguments that they had, he figured that he was the cause of most of them anyway, so surely him not being there was for the best.

When all is quiet and it is dark, he creeps out of the house. It isn’t long before he comes across a disused warehouse and decides to use it to take shelter and maybe get some sleep. However, it soon becomes apparent that he is not alone. A number of men enter the building amid a lot of noise. Three of the men are pursuing the another. After a scuffle, the man being pushed, lands near Sandy and gives him information that it becomes, apparent his assailants want, leaving Sandy in a very vulnerable, precarious position when they discover his presence. It then becomes very clear to Sandy that they will stop at nothing to get what they’re after…

Knowing a little about the plot prior to reading and the fact that I really do judge a book by its cover, I had little hope that The Messenger was going to interest and entertain me. At first read of the blurb (I never read the whole of it incase it influences my review), I had in mind that it was going to be a bit of a heavy ‘gangster’ narrative.

However, on reading the opening chapter I was pleasantly surprised to find that the main character is in fact a very confident, plucky young boy with the gift of the gab. This immediately lightened the whole feeling of the book for me. The narrative, although it was a single thread story staying very much with the same group of characters thoughout, the plot is kept fresh by the changing environments and the introduction of new characters for limited periods. The three hapless ruffian resembled the three stooges providing some comedic moments. Sandy and Ella’s confident approach to escaping their assailants also made me smile. However, there were a few hairy moments where I felt concern for our young warrior, such as when he is initially kidnapped and tied up in the cellar. However, it soon becomes evident that he is more than capable of looking after himself.

The storyline is extremely comprehensive, but that isn’t to say that it is complex. I read this in one sitting over four hours and had it been complex or tedious that’s not something I would have been able to do. Neither did I at any time consider stopping reading. The narrative is well thought through and constructed and one which I believed is derived from the Author’s day dreaming as a child about experiencing such an adventure. The only other stage in the story where you really do wonder if Sandy’s luck has run out and his pluckiness was in vain is towards the end where those hounding the young pair catch up with them. That scene was filled with suspense and it was the one time when I did allow myself to consider a tragic ending.

John Guthrie has created likeable and believable characters in Sandy, Ella and Uncle Charlie. I was amused by the use of the term ‘blanking language,’ describing when Sandy hears the bad men swear. It made me smile, being aware that this Author is not one for the use of offensive language in his writing. Sandy compares one of the men to ‘Bill the Lizard’ in Alice In Wonderland. I wasn’t aware of this character but when I Googled, this made me chuckle and seemed very fitting. The timeline, e.g night versus day, I found a little confusing. However, I gather that the Author found this element difficult to determine & perhaps communicate.

I like to put faces to characters as I am reading, which I am sure most people do. The two that stood out for me were Sandy who in my mind was ‘babyface’, from Bugsy Malone, but perhaps maybe a few years older, and Uncle Charlie I imagined as ‘Engywook’ from ‘The Never Ending Story’.

Whilst it is true that this isn’t my favourite of John’s books, it is definitely an entertaining read and an enthralling piece of writing.

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