Rob Johnson

Heads You Lose

Heads You Lose
Categories: ,
Published: December 31, 2014
Author's Twitter: @RobJohnson1000
The assignment in Greece might have been the answer to Trevor and Sandra's problems except for one thing. Someone was trying to frame them for murder... with a watermelon. 'Money for old rope,' Sandra had said when they accepted the job of looking after the ageing Marcus Ingleby at his villa in Greece, but when a neighbour brings a gift for the old man, the prospect of spending most of the rest of their lives in a Greek prison becomes a terrifying reality. Meanwhile, Ingleby has problems of his own. During his seventy-odd years, his cupboard has accumulated plenty of skeletons, one of which is about to be rattled by a couple of ex-cons and a retired police inspector from his murky past. Heads You Lose is the sequel to Lifting the Lid and the second book in the 'Lifting the Lid' series, featuring Sandra Gray, Trevor Hawkins and his incorrigible dog, Milly.


4 Stars

Trevor Hawkins and Sandra Gray are two PIs who aren’t exactly a rousing success. When they’re hired to travel to Greece to be nursemaids to a sick old man, Marcus Ingleby, they see it as a welcome change of pace. Little do they know that the only case from which they made money, the downfall of semi-retired gangster, Harry Vincent, will follow them to Greece and complicate their lives beyond measure.
After an interesting opening which starts like a thriller, and ends with Trevor being bonked by a cheating spouse he’s been tailing, the reader is plunged head-on into a comic romp in which even the violent encounters and bloody, beheaded corpses are milked for laughs.
This story has an expansive cast of characters, with different, but ultimately interlocking motives. But, the author handles them well by introducing each in their own chapter. The suspense is kept up by only hinting at the complex relationships—there are two separate crimes that bring them all together—until near the end when the threads are brought together.
The main weakness of this book is that the relationship between Hawkins and Gray is not as fully explained as it could be. Their history is mostly hinted at until well past the book’s midpoint when the reader learns that they had an almost romantic encounter. Donna Vincent’s motive is exposed too early, taking away some of the mystery. This, however, is just one reader’s observation. Heads You Lose is a funny book, and well worth the read.
I give it four stars.







Quest For The Holey Snail

Quest For The Holey Snail
Published: April 4, 2016
Author's Twitter: @RobJohnson999
WANTED: Gainful employment of an adventurous nature but without risk of personal physical harm. (Can supply own time travel machine if required.) When Horace Tweed places an advertisement in a national magazine, the last thing he expects is to be commissioned to travel back through time in search of the long extinct Holey* Snail. But this isn’t just any old snail. The helix pertusa is possessed of an extraordinary and highly desirable property, and Horace’s quest leads him and his co-adventurers to Ancient Greece and a variety of near-death encounters with beings both mythological and not so mythological. Meanwhile, Detective Chief Inspector Harper Collins has her hands full trying to track down a secret order of fundamentalist monks whom she suspects of committing a series of murders – the same monks who are determined to thwart Horace in his... ...Quest for the Holey Snail.

November 14, 2016

4 Stars

Fans of Douglas Adams’ Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy will enjoy Quest for the Holey Snail. The story starts off with a rather average, if somewhat dimwitted, main character, Horace Tweed, in search of a common item—a Swiss Army knife. He needs the knife in order to unsnarl the tape that he’s bollixed up, in order to reconstruct the letter that his dog has ripped to shred. In his search for said item, he encounters a number of other equally bizarre characters, and ends up on a quest to find a holey snail—that’s correct, not holy as in spiritual, but holey, as in a creature with hundreds of tiny holes in its shell—which is also being sought after by several others; among them, an order of homicidal monks, a strange man who hires Tweed and his companion, Norwood Junction, to find the snail, and a pharmaceutical company. And, why, you might ask, are they doing this? Because, said snail possesses an extraordinary and highly desirable property.

The story then takes off from there, switching from Tweed and his search to the murderous monks, to the police officer investigating a series of unusual murders. These seemingly unrelated events, despite their macabre nature, are narrated in a style that elicits chuckles at first, that quickly morph into guffaws, as one improbable event after another—with the occasional digression to give the author’s satirical take on historical events—unfolds, the reader is sucked deeper and deeper into the thread of the story.

There is, however, method to this meandering, as the author pulls all these disparate threads together at the end into a conclusion that satisfies. The universe, which has been twisted into unimaginable shapes, is put back into a semblance of orderly disorder.

I give this title four stars.