A.D. Phillips lives in Manchester, UK. The author holds a PhD in Applied Mathematics and currently works as an analyst, but has previously been a mathematics teacher and a researcher based at NASA Goddard, USA.
Despite a non-literary background, A.D. has penned numerous works of fiction, most notably a series of text adventure games (in the style of 80s Infocom works) that are currently available as free downloads from specialist websites.
Most of his works feature female protagonists and/or villainesses, and his favourite genres are action adventures, thrillers, and science fiction.
Where to find A.D. Phillips online
Edith Clayton and the Wisdom of Athena
by A.D. Phillips
A teenage girl stops ageing after activating an alien device, and faces an epic, two decade struggle to prevent the technology falling into the wrong hands. (Young adult adventure set in the 1920s, 30s and 40s.)
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Smashwords book reviews by A.D. Phillips
Running into the Darkness
on Jan. 19, 2015
(Review contains some story spoilers – mainly from the early part of the book)
I came across this author through social media networking, and would first like to point out she offers a lot of good advice for independent writers/publishers, and is also very positive in her correspondence which is just what authors need sometimes.
D.A. Bale authors a blog where she often reviews books, mainly in the mystery and thriller genres. So be sure to check this out if you want more information on the author.
Because of her helpful and encouraging advice – and the badass female protagonist preference of mine :) – I downloaded a free copy of her novel Running into the Darkness. I should point out this wasn’t a special gift from the author, and she hasn’t asked for this review. The book is free on most if not all major retail sites (electronic format).
With the introduction out of the way, onto the review:
The novel is an action thriller with some mystery elements, and focuses primarily on a young woman named Samantha Bartlett. When the book begins, she is a resident doctor at a hospital who soon comes into conflict with her boss over her treatment of a patient. From there things quickly get complicated after Samantha receives some tragic news regarding her grandmother, and her life takes a very different – much darker – turn.
The opening chapters are something of a whirlwind journey, involving a tragic accident (or was it?) from the past, revelations about Samantha’s family, the assassination of a congressman, a mysterious stalker in dark glasses, and an adulterous President of the United States who abuses his power. At times it became somewhat difficult to follow, with new characters introduced all over the place and seemingly unconnected events. However, the action did help break up what could have been a slow burner beginning, and it kept me reading to find out how it all tied in.
After a while, Samantha is led to a mysterious letter from a deceased relative. I won’t spoil the contents, but suffice it to say the note reveals she has a personal connection to the aforementioned President, and the tragic ‘accident’ was in fact murder. After that the main story soon kicks in, and Samantha is recruited into a shadowy organisation called the ‘Elite’ who operate from underground. There is she transformed into a sexual beauty / deadly assassin (that classic combination), with an explosive chip implanted in her head just in case she disobeys her new employers. The training sequences reminded me of La Femme Nikita (without the other recruits to keep Sam company). And when she’s done with all the kickboxing, political history lessons and seduction, the Elite send her after the President. How’s that for a first mission?
One thing that really impressed me were the frequent action sequences. They were very reminiscent of many bestseller thrillers I’ve read, excellently paced and with just enough detail to picture the scene without bogging it down. Dialogue was often snappy and almost movie-like, with a lot of brief, tense scenes thrown in among the longer exposition and plentiful conflict. There are lots of mysterious characters with equally mysterious agendas, double dealings, moles, and brutal assassinations of unfortunate people who get too close to the truth.
That truth remains very elusive throughout the book, as it soon becomes clear the Elite haven’t told Samantha everything. In addition to her point of view, the book also follows her ex-lover Joe, a cop turned FBI agent. He’s attempting to piece together the mystery from a different angle, and track down Samantha who almost everyone believes is dead except him. I particularly liked these sections of the book. At times it read like an intricate conspiracy thriller with shady century old companies and super-secret groups up to no good – and more than one attempt to silence Joe.
One thing I should point out is this is most definitely an adult book. There are VERY explicit descriptions of sexual acts and violence throughout, particularly the former (won’t add any more details because it would spoil the story). Suffice it to say the author holds nothing back. While a certain character is portrayed as despicable, he also has more depth than is first apparent and felt surprisingly fleshed out by the end. Various political figures are presented as less than pleasant, to say the least. Given the author’s own political background – and possibly life experiences – it certainly doesn’t paint a pretty picture of our leaders (but did we ever think they were squeaky clean anyway?)
Some of the later revelations / plot developments stretched disbelief well past breaking point. I can’t really say too much because it would spoil the story, but the identities of two villains felt a little much. And the novel veered well into sci-fi territory with an anti-aging formula, elaborate underground lairs, and nanotechnology. Having said that, most action books and movies are over the top, and the characters/action kept me reading all the way to the end. If you can suspend your disbelief, you’ll find Running into the Darkness to be a very satisfying thrill ride.
The book is part one of a series of three I believe, with this book followed by Piercing the Darkness. Not all loose ends are tied up, and it’s not a complete victory for Samantha. To her, survival is a victory in itself. She finishes in a much darker place than she began. Hence the rather apt title. The book is very dark indeed, delving into the bad side of human nature with few – if any – truly good guys/gals around. Joe comes about the closest, with Samantha herself involved in scheming, heinous sexual acts and murder (if not entirely willingly).
I’d recommend any adult thriller fan try this book (especially if they can get it for free). The author has an excellent sense of the action, and has clearly put a lot of work into this book. I found maybe one typo and the various viewpoints were distinct, making me feel I was there with the heroine on her wild adventures, and the various evildoers perfecting their ultimate plan.
Piercing the Darkness
on Feb. 26, 2015
Piercing the Darkness is the second book of a planned trilogy, the first being Running into the Darkness and the third tentatively titled Rising from the Darkness (which the author is currently working on and hopes to release later this year).
The books are a continual series (one main story as opposed to recurring characters in unconnected stories) and it is assumed people will have read the first title before the second. Indeed, the second book (and review) contains major plot spoilers for Running so if you’ve stumbled across this review and haven’t read the first book you should probably stop reading this blog and go download it (for free!)
Piercing the Darkness continues the story of Samantha Bartlett, a former doctor who got involved with some thoroughly nasty people who trained her to be a cold-blooded killer. Implicated in the assassination of the US President, Samantha finds herself hunted by both the FBI and those who trained/used her. Still reeling from her own morally questionable actions, she hides among the homeless in New York City and puts her medical talents to use helping the needy and destitute. But it’s not long before evildoers are on her tail…
Writing the middle part of a trilogy can be difficult, as the major inciting events tend to be in the first part and the big conclusion in the third. Which can sometimes leave the second being a set-up/filler. At times the book does feel a little like that, with a lot less action and more soul-searching from Samantha. There are few – if any – major revelations we don’t already know from the first book. But despite that, the book is very fast-paced and tight (clocking around 60,000 words) with plenty of thrills along the way. And Samantha is now less of a puppet and more of a shot-caller taking back control of her life.
In addition to Samantha, the book also focuses on her ex-lover Joe Roberts (now an FBI agent) and his investigation into the mysterious past which somehow ties in with the present. The trail takes him to Russia undercover as a university professor, where he doesn’t know who to trust and finds himself in perilous situations at every turn. Joe’s sections are probably the best parts of the book, as he generally gets more involved in the action and suspense than Samantha. At times Piercing reads like a well-executed cold war spy thriller with CIA, KGB and double agents (though set in modern day).
Samantha has another potential love interest / colleague in Chris, a doctor with a shady Government past. In Joe’s absence, he plays a pivotal role as a mentor / friend character to Samantha. And you just know – given the author’s tendency to kill off characters – that some of their friends will end up in the cross-hairs. But I won’t say what happens to them…
The book is much tighter in many ways than Running was. The author has the advantage here that Samantha starts as a trained killer and so she doesn’t have to delve into the backstory or mix in some assassinations to keep up the pace (as happened at the start of the first book). So it feels a smoother package overall.
There were a couple of sections that weren’t quite up to the overall standard. One scene in particular featured the villain in his elaborate underground lair talking to associates around the world. Very Ernst Stavro Blofeld / Spectre (from James Bond) in tone and I almost expected a white cat to jump on his lap! The new President’s sections felt disconnected as they mainly involved new characters not in the first book – though at the end it does become clear why he was included, and the final twist sets up things nicely for the finale.
I’m hoping the third book will feature more action for Samantha, who spent much of this book hiding and not fighting (though plotwise it made perfect sense). With key underlings now eliminated, the third book should feature an exciting conclusion for the kickass heroine.
Fans of the first book should definitely pick up the second. This book is also lighter on the sex than the first, so people who found that off-putting but liked the rest should still carry on with the series.