This contemporary crime story takes place over three weeks in November and unfolds against the multi-cultural backdrop of Soho, London. Branen had to leave the UK six years before to escape his complex clandestine history and the consequences of a crime that achieved worldwide notoriety. When his daughter is brutally murdered in Soho he believes that he could be the reason. He returns to his old hunting grounds to find the killer. His search brings him into conflict with the British Secret Service and Soho's underworld. He is forced to flee Soho again after a tragic meeting with his ex-wife. His past has caught up with him and the hunter becomes the hunted. Now forty years old Branen wants to stop running and to remove forever the continuing threat to his life. In an effort to get rid of his pursuers he is faced with the prospect that his only chance of survival could lead to his death. 'I have now read the novel myself and I think it's very good... I will not be the only publisher who finds it first rate.' Christopher MacLehose, Publisher of 'The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo' - part of Stieg Larsson's Millennium Trilogy.
Based in London A.W. Rock has been a regular in Soho working in film, television and advertising.
A.W. Rock has directed a wide range of music promo films and over two hundred TV commercials worldwide. Working in a variety of locations he has made commercials for General Motors in New Zealand, American Express in New York and Dyson vacuum cleaners in England. A commercial he made for The Royal Tournament was nominated for a prize at the Cannes Film Festival. He also directed several thirty minute commercially financed dramas.
He made his first theatrical drama – Deux ex Machina – a short film which won 2nd prize in a national competition sponsored by Channel One TV – Prize Shorts. It was also chosen by the British Film Institute, from over 300 shorts, as one of eight international films to tour the country in the Brief Encounters Festival. It later was shown by the BFI on a worldwide tour. This film received critical acclaim and was judged ” Very accomplished and remains in the memory ” by Derek Malcolm the Guardian film critic. This film has appeared in several other international film festivals.
He started his career as a professional photographer based in England and working all over the world, for most of the major advertising agencies in stills and film. These include J. Walter Thompson, Saatchi & Saatchi, Ogilvy & Mather, Young & Rubicam, McCanns, Bogle Bartle & Hegarty and many others. Inspired by fine art his work shows a strong approach to lighting and composition.
His awards include: 1st prize – Professional Portfolio Awards for Advertising and Fashion.
1st prize – Direct Marketing Award for Peugeot cars.
1st prize – Pegasus Advertising Awards for Dyson advertising.
3rd prize – John Capel International Awards for The Economist Magazine television and cinema commercial.
He has written his first novel, Soho Honey, and is currently working on book 2 and a 60-minute pilot for a television series, Lying Low in Soho, that incorporates the characters from the two books but with a new storyline. A screenplay of Soho Honey is in the planning stages.
Well then, let’s just start with that fabulous cover! It’s luscious and invites you into this unusually named novel. Once inside though I started to get a bit worried! There were 4 pages of characters explaining who they were and also some abbreviations explained too for those of us not in the know! It totally confused me so my advice is to skip it and only refer back if you need to. I found I didn’t need to once, as the chapters are all labelled accordingly with whichever character we are following at the time.
The story for me took a little bit of time to get into but once we watch an incredibly well known incident take place, it starts to warm up. After the death of Carrie when Branen comes back to the UK to find out who murdered her and why, that’s when the story really took off for me. The author has obviously put his heart and soul into his fictional creations and his depth of knowledge and research really shows. I almost felt I was in Soho at times, it came to life very vividly and practically lifted off the pages so I could smell and even feel the atmosphere. There is a lot of sex, violence and drugs as you would expect but it’s all integral to the plot. I loved The Controller character (large gin, little tonic!) And was gobsmacked several times by twists in the plot. Warning though, this ends on a cliffhanger ripe for part two. Thrillers such as this one aren’t normally my cup of tea but if you want a thriller with a difference then this is the one for you.
Many thanks to Kate Appleton at authoright and Clink Street Publishing for my review copy.
After accepting to read and review an advanced copy of this book, I felt a bit concerned, as I don't usually go for thrillers involving the secret service, secret agents and the likes. In fact I tend to avoid them and I have to say that I found this thriller's style very different from that of others I've read.
In my opinion, this book has one of the most powerful covers I've ever seen. The bee on the girl's lip just makes me shudder every time I look at it.
Starting the book, I felt overwhelmed by a long list of characters that is displayed at the beginning to help readers remember who's who. Actually I don't think it was very wise for the author to put that list there as while it may be helpful to some readers, others may find it intimidating (as I did). However although in the book we meet MANY characters, I found that I didn't need to refer to this list at all.
"Your daughter is dead."
Branen (an ex secret service agent) is a man on a mission. He's just received devastating news - his daughter has been murdered. Now after years in hiding and escaping from his previous life, he's forced back to Soho (where he used to live in his youth) to find his daughter's murderer and avenge her death.
In his absence, his daughter has also been employed by the secret service, and before her death she was trying to infiltrate a drugs ring. With the aid of 'The Controller', Branen has to retrace his daughter's last days to understand what happened and who may be behind her murder. Who killed his daughter? Will he ever find out? Was she killed because of him? Or was this just a trap to lure him out of his hiding and finish him off for good?
Soho Honey is a very tense, well-written book. Though there were some parts that I found a bit dragging, over-elaborate or sometimes confusing due to a lot of going up and down the streets of Soho, for the majority it kept me on the tip of my toes with several heart-pounding, fast-paced moments and a feeling of helplessness and apprehension that something bad is waiting to happen around the corner. I found myself in a world where you can trust no-one and you have to constantly look behind your shoulders. You never know who's watching your every move.
Branen is a great, likeable character, but apart from him and a couple of his friends, all the others are despicable, unsavoury characters you don't want to meet in real life. Through his words, the author brings the seedy underbelly of Soho to life, with its contrasting cultures, the many bars, clubs, dark alleyways and its thriving drug industry and prostitution. You can almost feel the atmosphere in Soho charged with tension and excitement.
The first part of the book concentrates on Branen's previous life in the '90s when he was trained by the secret service and involved in notorious crimes. I have to say that I found this part very rushed at times but also dragging and slow going at others and made me wonder whether I should persevere with this book or not. However as from the second part (the present day) the story gains momentum and I really started to enjoy it. The last part was my favourite and the most tension-packed. It is also the fastest part with events going on at breakneck speed till the heart-stopping cliffhanger at the end.
On the whole, this is a very engrossing thriller and I've thoroughly enjoyed it.
With thanks to Kate Appleton and Clink Street Publishing for sending me an advanced review copy.
I had decided to read this book before I had a chance to look at the blurb. That was all thanks to that stunning cover, absolutely gorgeous! If that doesn’t get your attention, nothing will!
Ex-secret service operative Branen is called back to action following the horrific death of his only daughter, Carrie. He is tasked with finding her killer which means returning to the stomping ground of his youth, notorious Soho in the West End of London. During his investigation he puts several high powered noses out of joint. Not that they needed much encouragement. Branen is a wanted man, on the hunt for a killer. The bodies pile up as he gets closer to the truth, can Branen avoid being one of those bodies…
I enjoyed this book, it’s a fast paced thriller with lots of action, but I was quite confused by the end of part one. There is a lot of information (locations, jobs, hierarchies, names etc.) which I felt came flying at me. I wanted the story to slow a little to give me time to absorb what I was reading. It all felt a little too much, too quickly and as a result it took me a little while to enjoy A W Rock’s style of writing.
Once I had gotten used to the author’s style, I found myself completely submerged in the story. A W Rock paints a very vivid picture of Soho and it’s darker side. The characters are well written and the action flows from start to finish. It’s a dark, gritty tale about the criminals of Soho’s underbelly and I’m looking forward to reading book two in the series, particularly as book one left us on such a cliffhanger!
Three and a half out of five stars.
Thanks to Rachel at Authoright for my copy of Soho Honey in exchange for an honest review.
Soho Honey feels different to the others thrillers I have read so far this year. It is a very slow to start, and there were times where I was seriously wondering if it was worth persevering with. Thankfully once most of the action has happening in real time and not just the huge amount of background information, the last 40% or so was a fairly enjoyable read.
Although I am sure some may find it helpful, I found the 4 pages at the start of the book consisting of the entire cast of characters and their nicknames and in some cases acronyms incredibly off putting, as I wasn't sure how I was ever going to remember all of it, and although you can use the Go To function on a kindle to jump back and forth, I wasn't convinced how useful it was.
The story as you may expect is split into parts, with the start giving you all of Branen's background, including why he was convicted and what he was involved in, that leads him to think all these years later that his life could be at risk. The main incident of this section, reminded me a lot of a major real life event also from 1997. As I was slightly confused by some of the abbreviations at the time, I am not sure how deliberate it was, at it took me a lot further into the story to fully appreciate what was going on.
It was the second part that featured Branen's daughter, that started to draw me into the story slightly, and contains all the events leading up to her death. She is in a situation that she should never have found herself in, and its through her, we are introduced to most of the major players in the book.
I was always under the impression that thrillers were meant to be fairly fast paced, but this just felt very slow, almost even when it was more urgent. Once I got past the halfway point I found the story had grown on me enough to make it a likeable book, and there were definitely elements in the wrapping up that caught me slightly unawares.
Soho Honey will definitely though give you a great feel for the seedy underbelly of Soho, and some of the locations featured, I really did feel as though I knew by the end of the book. But since it was the seedy underbelly, expect a lot of drug references and there is a fair amount of organised violence too. I am aware its a Book one, and I am curious as to what is going to happen next in the series, there are definitely elements that could be wrapped up or expanded on, but equally there is a character called The Controller who I would love to find out more about.
At times with one specific character it felt as though there was a political undertone to parts of this book, which given the extremist views which don't match my own, I felt slightly uncomfortable with. There also seemed to be a lot of government secret service style departments all acting independently, and trying to keep track of which group knew what about who was mildly confusing.
Overall Soho Honey was a book that grew on me as it progressed, and although for the most part I liked it, I couldn't shake the feeling that it just wasn't quite for me, although I am sure there are many people out there that will enjoy this style of writing.
Thank you to Kate Appleton and Clink Street Publishing for this review copy. This was my honest opinion.
I received this book from Kate at Authoright in exchange for an honest review. My actual rating is 3.5 ⭐️'s
I was initially drawn to this book after seeing what I believe to be a captivating cover. The colours and contrast drew me in, so when asked if I wanted to take part in the blog tour, I read the blurb and thought this book definitely sounds right up my street!
The story is set in London and the author’s description makes you feel you are right there in the heart of Soho. It is a thriller that mixes government agencies, murder and the search for answers into an interesting story-line. In terms of the plot, I was left feeling that a lot of information was crammed into the first half of this story which in fact, could have been left out. There was, for me, just so much background, it almost felt slightly chaotic and I found that I was not immediately hooked. But as the story unravelled, I was just unable to stop turning the pages!
Various themes were evident within this book. Love, loss, revenge are just a few to mention. There is a lot going on and you have to pay attention so that you can piece the story together as Branen (the protagonist) returns to Soho after being in hiding for 20 years. The characters are what intrigued me the most in this book. The choice of names, the individual personalities and being drip-fed their stories made me want to learn more about them.
The last half of the book was exceptional in my opinion and had the book started here — well I think my rating would have been very different. It was action-packed, totally unnerving (in a good way) and really allowed the reader to see what was at the heart of this story.
I would definitely recommend this book to those of you who enjoy gritty, action thrillers and I will be keeping my eye out for A.W. Rock as once I got through the mass of information at the start, I just could not put this book down!
I was fascinated by the cover of this book .. it was one of those that could go either way. As soon as I started reading I was confronted by a huge list of characters, their nicknames, roles etc .. I whizzed through that and was left entirely confused by the time I actually got to the story!
Having said that once I got into it I could happily embark on the ride. This is a slightly different approach to thrillers due to the fact one of the major incidents at the beginning is based on a dramatic well known event .. readers of a certain age will identify it immediately.
I enjoyed the in depth writing during the whole geographical journey, lots of familiar names, landmarks made it feel as though I was actually a part of it.
Due to the nature of the book it is intense in places. I’m not sure if Branen the main man was meant to be likeable but I found him quite charismatic even though his actions are extreme. The whole part surrounding his daughter Carrie and how her life choices lead to her demise is enthralling. And the Controller is one to look out for.
Overall with hindsight I enjoyed this .. slow in places. I wasn’t overly keen on all the government references because it was awkward keeping track of what was going on. I prefer getting to know the characters as they are introduced and that is purely down to a writers ability to connect with the reader so on a personal level the “list” was unnecessary.
This will appeal to anyone who enjoys the darker, sleazy, corrupt side of life with a thriller base. At the beginning I was convinced this would be a 3 star book but it improved, drew me in and left me wanting to read more from this author so I have upped that rating to a 4 star.
Thanks to the author, Kate Appleton and Clink Street Publishing for the ARC in exchange for my honest opinion.
This book surprised me. The synopsis was interesting but I was hooked into the story quicker than I imagined I would be..the book just got better and better as it went on.
The very first part of the book is a bit of background on Branen.. all very interesting but I was waiting to get to the good stuff…and the author didn’t keep me waiting long.
As soon as Branen’s daughter is involved the fast pace of the story turns to suspense and a brilliant story builds up leading on from her murder.
For me two characters stood out, Snowman and Harry.. these guys play pivotal parts in the book and I just loved any scene with them in.
One of the best things about this book is how the author has decided to write it. Each part of the story is broke down into manageable chunks clearly stating who is involved. This style of writing made it very easy for me to read and helped reinforce the character info you’ve learnt as you can clearly see their progression. There is also a section at the beginning of the book which details each character.. I must admit I skipped this and don’t think it did me any harm.. the author explained each characters and their motivations well enough during the story
The plot line has twists and turns and was exciting to read.. with each page turn i was left wondering what else could possibly happen! I won’t lie there is a lot going on within the plot but for me it all worked. It’s a gritty crime drama full of suspense.. for me it was like James Bond.. but with a lot of drugs involved set in the seedy underworld of Soho.
I’d definitely like to see where the author goes next. If you enjoy crime gritty/dirty/dark crime books this book will work for you.
Thank you to Kate Appleton and Clink Street Publishing for this review copy.
This crime thriller set in the underbelly of Soho in London really packs a punch. It isn't written in the traditional formula of a crime thriller, in that the pace varies as we are introduced to historical events that affect the characters first and then the story ramps up to tell you about Carrie, the daughter of Brennan, who is the central protagonist.
This contemporary telling of a crime thriller is fresh and exciting and I found myself sinking into the story as if it were quicksand, even though this is a far cry from a sanitised high-octane read. It is one of those books where you kept questioning the powers of good and evil.
I could see the story being televised as it is compelling and you wonder just want will befall the central characters and where the huge cast, that are listed at the front of the book (some readers may choose to skip those pages as it's quite an intimidating list), all fit in.
After reading the book I am in awe of Soho and just how much goes on behind the scenes, the book left me infatuated with the area and I would love to read more.
I thought the book was incredibly well researched , i enjoyed it very much. I was not that impressed with the cover, i know other people were but i felt it was not as 'hard hitting' as the story. I hope Branen is not killed of as he can easily be a 'Bernie Gunter' or 'Harry Bosch' Well done Mr Rock.
A.W. Rock has written an intriguing and engrossing modern thriller that had me hooked from beginning to end.At times sexy and violent,the novel offers a fresh look at the Soho underworld. Let's hope A.W.Rock follows up with something as equally good.