Beardale Books

Blood Read: Publish And Be Dead

Blood Read: Publish And Be Dead
Published: November 18, 2016
Author's Twitter: @simonjtownley
When investigative journalist Tom Capgras finds his literary agent hanging from an oak beam in her West End office, an immaculately tied noose around her neck, his dreams of a non-fiction book deal appear dead in the water. Joanne Leatherby’s death looks like suicide but Capgras suspects murder. Nonsense, say police, who dismiss him as a conspiracy crackpot. Capgras uncovers links to a string of untimely deaths – editors, publishers, reviewers, even book bloggers, killed for an unkind word. All the evidence points to one man – a mid-list author of detective tales with a career on the skids. Cast adrift by agents and publishers alike, his dreams thwarted, Arthur Middleton has gone to the dark side and embraced self-publishing. He may be crazed with ambition, but how mad would a man have to be to kill for publicity, for book sales? Mad enough to admit everything on the pages of his latest blockbuster? As the body count mounts, and the police refuse to take him seriously, Capgras must act alone, defy his critics and get to the truth fast – before the killer gets to him.

Awesome Indies Assessment

November 18, 2016

5 Stars

Great book, beautifully written and a perfect read for anyone in the publishing industry. It’s written with a light touch while having a deadly serious plot. The story revolves around murders in the publishing industry and a reporter trying to catch the murderer without the kind of support a detective or PI would have. Highly recommended for authors, publishers and anyone who likes a good mystery. 5 stars!



The Dry Lands

The Dry Lands
3,000 years BCE, in Africa’s Rift Valley: isolated by a changing climate, hemmed in by arid wasteland, a prehistoric tribe fights for survival. A prehistoric tribe fights for survival Isolated by a changing climate, hemmed in by arid wasteland, a band of prehistoric humans faces extinction. There are too many mouths to feed – the tribes have grown too large, they’ve hunted too fiercely and the animals are gone. The waterholes are dry, the rains don’t come. Their world has changed, and they need a way out. As the young men of the Koriba go in search of a new home, Temfe, the chief’s son, must learn to lead his clansmen before they betray him. To survive in a harsh world, surrounded by enemies he must gather new allies, discover new weapons and learn new ways of seeing the world. In the African rift valley, 43,000 years BCE, a spark of consciousness flares into life. The dawn of human culture, the fire that will reshape the world.

Reviewed by Awesome Indies

At the dawn of human culture, 43,000 years before the birth of Christ, the Kariba live in a region of East Africa that was once teeming with game, lush forests, and water, that is now an arid wasteland. Temfe, the 17-year-old son of Beru, chief of the Kariba, is a cripple, his foot mangled by the buffalo that killed his brother. Betrothed to Yamba, he must contend with Kofu, the tribe’s chief hunter and warrior, who not only wants to be chief, but wants Yamba.

The Dry Lands by Simon J. Townley is the story of Temfe’s effort to find new lands for his tribe. He must find a place for them to go or watch his people die. His only ally is his friend Ngoh, a young man of the same age. When Beru sends the hunters out to find new lands, he places Temfe in command, but along with having to cope with his handicap and the deadly, unfamiliar desert, he has to deal with Kofu’s treachery.

Not since Jean Auel’s Clan of the Cave Bear has there been a novel set in prehistoric times that does such a good job of bringing this era to life. Townley’s straight forward prose and rich descriptions of the land, wildlife, and the people put the reader smack in the middle of action that resonates with anyone who loves history. This might seem a contradiction in terms, considering the story is about what we modern people call ‘pre-history,’ but a close reading will reveal parallels with life as we know it today. What the author shows us is that human emotions haven’t evolved all that much in the millennia since man arose in East Africa.

Temfe is the prototype of every modern hero or explorer – the men and women who have struck out into the unknown to expand the range of human understanding. The action is well framed, the dialogue realistic, and the settings colorful. This might be fiction, but it’s a good history lesson as well.

Highly recommended reading for all ages.

Lost In Thought

Lost In Thought
A journey into the perils and pitfalls of the subconscious mind – to save a life, solve a crime and recover an algorithm that could change the world. A secret that could change the world is lost inside Richard Trescerrick’s comatose mind. The only hope is the Brainscape device, an experimental mind-link technology and doorway to the subconscious. To save his life and recover the formula, a team of police and doctors use the Brainscape to enter Richard’s unconscious mind. Along for the ride is estranged son Luke who must risk his life and sanity on a mission to wake his father, unmask a killer and expose a conspiracy that threatens the world. But when the Brainscape device is sabotaged the team is scattered and trapped in the subconscious unable to escape. If they die in here, they die for real and there are dangers everywhere – because in the labyrinth of the Brainscape, enemies lurk behind every memory. Secrets spawn riddles wrapped in metaphor. Stories come alive. And monsters are made flesh.

Reviewed by Tony McFadden,

4 Stars

“Lost in Thought” is a psychological thriller, the bastard child of Inception, The Cell, and a little bit of The Matrix.

Luke Trescerrick is in a bad place. His mother is dead, his father, Richard, is emotionally unreachable and his young son, Daniel, is possibly autistic and definitely in need of professional help. When it can’t possibly get worse, he’s evicted from his crappy little Cornish cottage by his father, who then is a victim of a home invasion, left in a coma.

It’s the coma that is the centrepiece of the novel. The coma, and Brainscape – a device invented by his father to enter the (sub)consciousness of others.

Richard kept a key part of the device secret. His business partner is keen to use Brainscape to go in and try and find the key. Medical professionals are interested in seeing if Brainscape can help lift Richard out of the coma and the police, specifically one eager, ambitious Detective Inspector Yvonne Warren, is very interested in the potential investigative powers of the tool.

They enter Richard’s subconscious and embark on a journey of ego, super-ego, id, metaphors and archetypes, all running around in the fantastic world of Richard’s imagination and memories.

After a bit of a slow start (not so slow that I was tempted to stop reading), the pace quickly picks up once the band of not so merry men and women start traversing the brain. Townley does a good job of creating the main characters – Luke, his father, Cate the psychologist and Dubois, the business partner, are real. The worlds are real. At least as real as imaginary worlds can be, and the premise of summoning metaphors and archetypes move around and solve problems while inside the subconscious is genius. And the ticket out, a brilliant idea.

Townley does a great job with this book. Structurally there is nothing wrong and Luke’s evolution is a very well-defined arc. A strong four stars. I’m looking forward to reading more of his work.


Ball Machine

Ball Machine
Can an android win Wimbledon? Or the soccer World Cup? What about the heart of a beautiful woman? When the beautiful bio-robotics prodigy Rosa Rodriguez joins an elite science project in the Arizona desert there’s only one thing missing from her life: a decent tennis partner. So she persuades the guys to build her an android – Vitas, the robot who plays to win. Whether it’s tennis, football, or making love to beautiful Russian starlets, Vitas is a true ‘ball machine’ – relentless, untiring, and highly skilled. But when Vitas decides to turn pro, the world of tennis will never be quite the same again. A tale of androids, intrigue, tennis champions, criminal conspiracies, the world’s worst football team… and the ultimate, non-binary meaning of life.

Reviewed by 

I loved this book to gushing point—fairly rare for me. Why? In a nutshell, it’s expertly written in a distinct voice, has a delightful central character and a great cast of supporting geeks and sports fanatics, an interesting, well-paced plot and, one of my pet delights, a touch of metaphysical/philosophical insight.

Vitas Rodriguez is an android, thrown together by a brilliant bunch of scientists working in a remote area in their downtime. Rosa, the only girl in the team, wanted a tennis partner, a ball machine, and she offered to strip for the boys if they managed to make her an android that did what she wanted. They succeeded better than they had hoped. No one quite understands how this android, the result of a mishmash of scavenged parts, became self-aware but somewhere along the way, he did. Perhaps it was the philosophy they uploaded to his hard drive and the background programming’s directive to work out the meaning of life.

Vitas is strong, fast, tireless and smart. He knows how to learn. And he loves to win. The book is written from his point of view, and it’s a wonderful one; an endearing mixture of innocence, drive, determination and the confidence that comes from clear programming. I never doubted for a moment that these were the thoughts of an Android, but a very human one. He feels things in his circuits rather than his heart or his veins, and every night he plugs himself into a power socket to recharge. Though he can’t see how it’s possible, he even suspects that what he feels for Natayla might be love.

The story is full of descriptions of tennis and football matches, but the author never lost me (a non-sporty person) in too much detail. Instead, the descriptions drew me into Vitas’s enthusiasm and deftly built to the climax of the game.

During the story, Vitas comes face to face with situations where his programming has conflicting directives and in the end, even the most vital one of all, ‘obey Rosa’, must be questioned. This is without a doubt, a 5 star read. Highly recommended for anyone who likes a really good story.