I was delighted to receive an advance copy of The Penny Black by Rob Parker, at Newcastle Noir earlier this year. And I’m delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for publication.
Before I share my thoughts, here’s what the official blurb says:
I’m dead, for all intents and purposes. Nobody knows I’m alive…
Ben Bracken is on the run for his life. Keeping a low profile from the agencies seeking to silence him, he finds refuge in the small quiet village of Horning. Working in a boat yard and lodging with a quiet older couple, Eric and Dot, Ben uses this time to plan his future. He needs to escape the country. Realising his only chance of escape will reveal his whereabouts to some unsavoury characters, he plans every detail down to the last minute. Little does he know, even that won’t be enough…
Just before he walks away from his safe haven, murder strikes the quiet town. Dot, the woman who offered him shelter in his time of need, is the victim. Is this his past catching up with him? Or a horrible coincidence? Ben cannot leave until he is sure that he has not brought trouble to the villagers that welcomed him into their community. But would it be better to leave and draw the threat away from Horning? Or should he stay and fight, risking many more lives in the process? Will he be able to exact revenge for the death of the innocent Dot? One thing is certain, there is a lot more going on in the village of Horning than meets the eye…
The Penny Black is action packed from beginning to end, keeping you guessing right the way through until the explosive ending.
The Penny Black is the third in the Ben Bracken series but I thought that it could easily be read as a stand-alone as there is enough back story peppered throughout the novel. For me it was an intriguing introduction to Ben, who is going by the name of James. My interest was immediately piqued and I had a whole pile of questions I wanted answers to. Did I get them…well you will just need to read the book and see won’t you!
Rob Parker provides a detailed and exquisite narrative which makes for some fabulous and authentic scene setting. It was so hard not to lose myself in the pages forever. He manages to paint a picture of an idyllic country setting but don’t let that fool you, for underneath the perfect picture is a much darker side of country life which Ben soon finds himself caught up in. The picturesque life soon becomes dark as the body count begins to rise. Trouble certainly seems to follow him around!
Short sharp chapters make for a pacy read and the twists and turns just keep coming. Written in first person, I found myself living and breathing the story with Ben. I really engaged with his character and now I want to know so much more about him! He’s an intriguing character that’s for sure! It’s cleverly plotted and expertly executed; it’s an action packed thriller with a strong protagonist, The Penny Black, is definitely one for lovers of thrillers. Don’t miss it!
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About the author:
Robert Parker is a married father of three, who lives in a village near Manchester, UK. The author of the Ben Bracken books A Wanted Man and Morte Point, and the standalone post-Brexit country-noir Crook’s Hollow, he enjoys a rural life on an old pig farm (now minus pigs), writing horrible things between school runs.
He writes full time, as well as organising and attending various author events across the UK – while boxing regularly for charity. Passionate about inspiring a love of the written word in young people, he spends a lot of time in schools across the North West, encouraging literacy, story-telling, creative-writing and how good old fashioned hard work tends to help good things happen.