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I’ve had many and varied careers. In more or less historical order, I’ve been a motorcycle mechanic, a race engine builder, a teacher, an academic, a hard rock miner (silver), a book editor and ghost writer, a commercial writer in print and video, a novelist, a mason, a wood-fired artisan bread baker and a teacher of that craft. Some, if not all, have overlapped in time and continue.
A Few Men Faithful, the first novel in the Kavanagh series, was awarded the IndiePENdents Certificate and Seal of Good Writing in October 2013 (www.indiependents.org). In the Review, UK, Karen Andreas said of it: "Jim Wills’ A Few Men Faithful is the very best of reads. It starts off with epic action and, before you know it, you are not only sucked into the story but also deeply involved with its protagonist, Danny Kavanagh....This is compelling reading indeed. A Few Men Faithful is strong, fascinating historical fiction very well done." (http://thereviewgroup.blogspot.co.uk/2013/12/karen-andreas-few-men-faithful-by-jim.html ). Christoph Fischer, here on Smashwords and on Amazon: "I personally enjoyed the political part the most for the objective and factual way the conflict was described, particularly the third part of the book when the Irish fighters split over the treaty, which of course bears relevance up to the present. This is a great achievement." Geoffrey Preston on Smashwords: "I think you have exceptional writing skills that jam packed this book." Marc Schuster in Small Press Reviews: " The prose throughout is clear and reminiscent of Hemingway, particularly in instances where Wills describes battle. Clear writing and strong characters make this a novel (and, presumably, series) worth reading, especially for those interested in the last century of Irish diaspora history." There are others in similar vein.
The second Kavanagh story, Philly MC, has been well reviewed both on Smashwords and Amazon. Christoph Fischer: "In Philly MC, he focuses much more on just one man and his inner torment, making this a brilliant character study and a rewarding experience. Jack's moody personality was as interesting as the setting, a very authentic portrayal of the 1960s....A great book."
Volume III, Shooter in a Plague Year, has gotten five-star treatment as well. Patrice O'Neill-Maynard on Amazon: "Shooter in a Plague Year is an astonishing book. It gallops forward at a remarkable pace and gathers us all up into intrigue, politics, betrayal, and heart rending and scintillating scenes of open-hearted love, half truths, and promises. Author Jim WIlls has a literary style that winds a story with thoughtful fire and makes us think, speculate, and figure out the subplots as the lives he follows digest the clues they get as to what is actually happening and who it is they can trust.... It is a great book. Read it!" Christoph Fischer: "In Shooter in a Plague Year Jim Wills returns to the Kavanagh family once again, the third installment of this inspired series....The book is well written, tension and plot move smoothly and the dialogue is also well done, particularly where the different accents need to be emphasized phonetically. A thriller as much as political novel this is a gripping read....After Philly MC it is also a great move in the context of the series."
The fourth and most recent title is A Hard Gemlike Flame. Christoph Fischer: "The book is a surprising addition to the saga but it certainly freshens and livens up the selection in the series so far....Thematically it complements the other books in the series very well."
on April 26, 2013 :
In "Shooter in a Plague Year" Jim Wills returns to the Kavanagh family once again, the third instalment of this inspired series. After "A Few Men Faithful", which was set in Dublin around 1916 - 1924, and "Philly MC", set in the US in the 1960s, his third book takes us into the future.
Chris Kavanagh is a sniper for the IRA in Belfast in 2018, just a few years ahead, where in a worst case scenario the opposing forces in Northern Ireland have become more radical rather than moderate. Unwilling to share or negotiate violence flares up again. With no helpful interference from the US or Britain all of Ireland is left to fight it out on their own.
Interspersed in the story are segments about the history of Ireland, told by way of relating the fate and involvement in the conflict of several of the Kavanagh men over the decades. These segments were incredibly informative and helpful to understand the origins and complexities of the existing differences and to understand how torn families and loyalties are as the Kavanagh family does not stand entirely united behind the IRA and it demands and practices.
The author does a splendid job at explaining where the points of conflict between the opponents stand and how easy it is for politicians and paramilitary groups to disagree and find the answer in violence.
I was reluctant to delve into this book, being one about a conflict that is ongoing and has still a lot of sensitivity attached to it. Wills does well in portraying the situation and views of both camps. By taking the views and the situation to an extreme this is provocative and rewarding in many ways, leaving me with not so much an answer as a better understanding.
The book is well written, tension and plot move smoothly and the dialogue is also well done, particularly where the different accents need to be emphasized phonetically. A thriller as much as political novel this is a gripping read.
After "Philly MC" it is also a great move in the context of the series. There are some vague connections to the stories of the other books but in essence the members of the Kavanagh family are all individuals, as are all people of Ireland. By going into the future Wills teaches us just as much about the presence as he does with the actual historic information.
(reviewed long after purchase)