Fresh Blood

Name: Bryan Boswell

Title of Book: Tattoo

'...the plot thunders its way to a spectacular conclusion.'

Former SAS man Simon Tabor gets recruited 'off the books' by DCI Landon to aid in a murder enquiry. The victims have a mysterious tattoo of an orchid which Tabor had first seen on his sister who was murdered two years previously.

Romanian brothel owners and workers are slaughtered in what appears to be a ritual slaying, but Tabor's investigations lead him to Spain where he encounters a Romanian detective, a multimillionaire Biochemist and a socially inadequate orchid expert.

Throughout there is the mysterious tattooing of some of the murder victims, the brothel connections and the enigmatic Blake and Duncan whose alliance can bring only trouble for those who oppose them.

Tabor must wind these strands together to form a rope so he can hang his sisterís killer.

An excellent debut from Bryan Boswell sees his creation tackle some seriously twisted killers in his quest for the truth behind his sisterís death. These kind of novels are often a well worn path for authors and readers alike, yet Boswell has created such a compact and pacy story that the reader is happy to tread a somewhat familiar route before being swept away by an avalanche of twists which take the tale off the known path and into the murky undergrowth.

Tabor is a strong lead character, well portrayed with a density of emotions and enough hidden depths to allow him many more adventures before we truly know him. Whilst Tabor does not carry the book on his own shoulders he shows signs that he well could, in the manner of a Jack Reacher or a Ben Hope. Peripheral characters are excellently depicted and the murderous Romanian contingents are a joy to behold as they seek revenge, triumph or good old fashioned profit.

The action is always gripping and the plot is sufficiently intricate to avoid any clichťs of the genre. Set pieces are carefully orchestrated, as are the revelations as the plot thunders its way to a spectacular conclusion.

This a fine novel with a character that has many more stories to tell and would be a pleasure to accompany for many years to come.

Reviewed by: G.S.

CrimeSquad Rating

Fresh Blood Questionnaire

1) How do you classify your writing and do you consciously try to write to a certain style or genre?
I donít try to write in any particular style but Iíve had my writing described as thriller cum crime with a touch of old fashioned adventure thrown in and I quite like that description.
2) What type of crime novels do you like to read? Do you prefer series or standalones?
I confess I donít read as much as I should. I think if I have to name one author/character that I have read and enjoyed in recent years it has to Ian Rankin and Rebus. I guess I like the anti-hero thing, I think I empathise with the solitary man who wants to fit into his surroundings but only finds comfort in a very tight circle. Perhaps a partner, perhaps a friend or possibly even two friends but rarely more. I like Rebus and the series and I also like Odd Thomas and many of Dean Koonzí characters.
3) Is Tattoo planned as a standalone or will be be seeing more of Simon Tabor in the future?
I like Tabor. He fits the solitary man mode. And those who read Tattoo will realise that some of the characters are still there with unfinished business, including Tabor. I He does have things he needs to do, needs to know, needs to find out about himself.
4) Are you worried about comparisons between Tabor and the likes of Jack Reacher, Ben Hope and Joe Hunter, or are you pleased to be mentioned in their company?
With apologies to Lee Childs and Matt Hilton I think it better that maybe I shouldnít read their work until I feel other people are happy to identify uniquely with Tabor. I really wouldnít want to be influenced by any other author and subconsciously copy a style or steal an idea.
5) Did you have to do much research on the orchids mentioned in Tattoo or were they already a passion that you incorporated into the book.
Yes and Yes. I have been passionate about orchids for as long as I can remember. I have looked for them home in Australia, in Malaysia and Thailand on my journeys, and always have one or two cultivated species in my home. At the moment I have three in pots here in Andalucia , two in flower the other dormant. But I didnít know enough about them to write Tattoo, especially the Masdevellia species so I researched them in books, online, and through the Royal Horticultural Society. I remain fascinated with them. I always will.
6) After all they go through is there a happy end in sight for Tabor and co, or do you plan to give the kind of emotional and domestic instability favoured by so many other authors writing in this genre today?
I have to refer back to question 3. If I write another Tabor novel he wonít be emotional and domestically unstable, unless the writing insists on taking me that way. I think by the end of Tattoo Tabor wants a family life. He wants to love the family, and protect it but he also knows that the family heís acquired comes with complicated baggage, and that they could be hostile targets at any time. Personally, I firmly believe happiness is moments. Tabor has had some of his, and heíll want more.
7) Many authors draw on their personal experiences to give them depth and insight into the characters and feeling, hopes and desires. Is this something you have conscientiously done or avoided doing, preferring rather to use your imagination?
When I was a journalist I often asked people I was interviewing a question like that. With only one exception, everyone had a glib, pat answer. The exception was Warren Mitchell, whom I interviewed in Sydney when he was giving his one man show. He must have been asked about Alf Garnett and the people in Till Death Do us Part a million times, but nevertheless he seemed to me to be thinking deeply about Alf, and still trying to work him out. Some of the characters in Tattoo are drawn from life, bits of my own, bits of other people, but none of them consciously. Now that I see it in the book I can recognise scraps here and there and my wife says that when she is reading my manuscripts she can see my mind working through my characters. Itís quite eerie, actually.

I think the violence in Tattoo is my reflection of the violence I see in our times, in the streets of the cities where Iíve lived. The embolada in Tattoo really happens to bulls in parts of Spain; the killing of people in the way it happens in Tattoo really happens or has happened in the past few years in towns in Britain, and in particular in Glasgow. Thatís why in answer to a later question it isnít other authors per se I admire, itís the way some authors can reflect the true reality of modern life as Burgess did with Clockwork Orange.
8) What are the qualities you look for in another writerís work?
Whatever makes me turn the next page. If I donít I put the book down and rarely pick it up again. It would be unfair of me to mention the big name authors whose books I have discarded because of that.
9) Who would be your dream cast of movie actors for an adaptation of your work?
For the past nine years Iíve lived in a small mountain village in southern Spain. It has no cinemas and the nearest big town only shows movies in Spanish. As a result I havenít seen a film in a movie theatre for years. Since we donít have English language television either, the latest films Iíve seen have been big series television series such as NCIS, or Castle, or Lost. I know I can get movies on DVD but by the time I think about it Iím into something else, so frankly Iím out of touch with the British film/television scene. Iíll have to delve into the past. Iíd have liked to have seen Sean Bean as Tabor when Bean was in his 40ís. I suppose heís too old for it now. I would like someone similar to David Jason when he was Frost for DCI Landon. For Blake I can see a modern version of Alistair Sim and for Ian Duncan a kind of buccaneering Mel Gibson. As for the women, I have no real idea but I rather fancy Cote de Pablo who plays Ziva David in the NCIS series, as Anca.
10) Without giving the plot, which book included you favourite plot twist of all time?
Sleuth. If a stage play counts as a novel that is.
11) What is your favourite movie adaptation of a crime novel?
Silence of the Lambs
12) Would you describe yourself as a crime fiction fan in general, and if so which authors so admire most and why?
Iím a fan of intriguing British television crime but my reading for enjoyment really goes retro to the seventies and eighties and the espionage based books by people such as Len Deighton, John Le Carre, and in particular Adam Hall who I think was really Elleston Trevor. I donít like having to tell the reader everything. I much prefer things to be done and said which require the reader to think why and store away scraps of knowledge to identify the what and where and who. For me, why should be the end, everything else should neatly wrap up the conclusion in the last twenty or thirty pages.
13) What is your favourite crime read of all time?
Iíll say Clockwork Orange but add that my favourite crime television series of all time was Messiah. I have never been able to buy the books of it over here.