Disclaimer: the following review includes some shocking examples of book snobbery – for which I am deeply ashamed….
Earlier on this year I was very kindly asked if I would like to read (and obviously then possible review) a book by called Distant Thunder by relatively unknown author T.D Griggs. Hmmmm, I thought, do I really want/need another book to read? Isn’t the title just a little bit too corny and the cover, well, a bit too……mauve?
I suspect that Distant Thunder is a prime example of the lack of attention/funding/marketing given to relatively unknown authors trying to pave their way in a cutthroat market. Either that or the tentative (bordering on timid) approach when an author’s true target market has yet to be established. I tested this theory on my book group, who all either giggled or looked surprised that I had picked this up. (We all have very similar tastes.)
Don’t look away now. This book is brilliant and may well be your cup of tea. Sucked in by a sumptuous blurb full of historical dates and dreams of faraway lands; if adventure and escapism is what you’re after, then this novel delivers in a big way.
Spanning the late 19th and early 20th centuries, addicts of historical, crime and romance fiction are treated to a love story spanning three continents, a murder mystery fueled by the desire for revenge and a historical attention to detail that makes the story of Frank Gray (orphaned stable boy) and Grace Dearborn (headstrong rich girl) all the more vivid. Following a deluge of boring books this spring, Griggs provided the throwaway adventure I sorely needed.
This is not the kind of book to suit being pulled apart and analysed in the review pages. Quite often, a rip-roaring story is all a girl needs and what, after all, is the matter with that? Although certain elements of Griggs’ tale seem a little predictable at times – i.e. a tragedy followed by a thirst for revenge followed by an adventure and great love story to go with it, his prose is both simple yet opulent, his historical knowledge just enough to paint a realistic picture without overtaking the plot and the battles…well, just gory enough I found. If Grace Dearborn hadn’t turned out to be such an unrealistic and contradictory character it would have been near perfect.
Griggs’ wonderfully imperfect conclusion to this, his third novel, leaves the way open (I’m hoping) for a Frank Gray sequel and I, for one, am excited to see what he has in store for us next. I shall be placing this novel in the book box at my local train station tomorrow morning, not because I no longer want it but because I need to spread the word. Griggs is bloody good.
Green Desert Sunset by Jasper Nance via Flickr