South by Southwest Wales
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Book Review
David Owain Hughes
2018 Darkwater Syndicate
“Samson Valentine is the best private eye ever to wear a fedora–or at least he was, before he became a washed-up booze hound. There simply isn’t demand for a whiskey-swilling Welsh gumshoe who insists he’s living in 1940’s Chicago. Everything changes when a massive diamond falls into his lap.
Before he’s too sure of what’s going on, he’s swept up in the biggest case of his life. The mob will do anything to get its gemstone back, and they prove it when Sam’s friend turns up dead. Now it’s personal, and Sam sets out on a one-man mission to take down the Welsh crime syndicate. Armed with little more than his wits and his fists, the odds don’t look good. Too much time at the bottom of a whiskey bottle has given him trembling hands and an addled brain. If he’s to have any chance of bringing the mob to justice, he’ll first need to come to grips with his worst enemy–himself.”
First of all, many thanks to the author, David Owain Hughes, and the publisher, The Darkwater Syndicate, for a copy of ‘South by Southwest Wales’ to read in exchange for an honest review.
This book really made me smile while reading. From the beginning, the plentiful Chicago gumshoe speak just filled my soul. South by Southwest Wales is a wonderfully written book, a very interesting criminal mystery to solve and a fantastic lead protagonist, Samson Valentine. We have whisky, dames, guns and fedoras. What’s not to like right? Oh, and don’t forget, a huge diamond. I admit that I was a very excited gal when I started reading this, I love things like this. Gangster Noir, I was hooked from the opening.
I love the Noir style, the imagery and the expression used fits perfectly with the scenes created. The Chicago 1940’s lingo used by Valentine throughout too is very fitting. The gumshoe references are aplenty, but not in a way that they become over used. Everything about this book fits. I can see why South by Southwest Wales is David Owain Hughes’ baby.
It’s very easy to develop a relationship with Valentine, he is a troubled man, he has a drinking problem, and has lost two wives to illness. He is a kind man at heart, under that rough lawman exterior, he is a good man, he wants to help people. Reading this character, while he flits between Cardiff and Chicago, the writing is very clean, with very smooth transitions.
There is a great human story behind the case. He is a man dealing with his worst enemy, himself. His drinking has cost him a lot. If he carries on it will cost him more. He needs to deal with this, get control of his life again. Once he deals with his demons, he can then deal with the case at hand. I found myself riveted with his daily struggle. I was willing for him to stop drinking, becoming worried for his safety. It’s crazy how involved you can get with a character in a book, I love that.
This is a very well written book, its very easy to read, well laid out. The pacing is perfect, not too much too soon, but it doesn’t feel stunted either. It’s just right as Goldilocks would say.
The dialogue is consistently engaging throughout and the split between thought, his internal voices, and the spoken word is very clear.
I highly recommend checking out the work of David Owen Hughes (if you haven’t done already). He is a very talented author, and I for one am looking forward to reading some more of his work.
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Housewife of Horror