The Greatest Beer Run Ever

“Hey, Collins!” I shouted up. “Tommy!” Tommy peered down into the
boat and did a double take. “Chickie?!” He scurried down the ladder
and grabbed me by the arms as if to see if I was real.

He looked bigger and stronger than when I’d seen him last, and he was
full of questions. “Chickie! Are you kidding me? How did you get here?
Are you nuts? What the hell are you doing here?!”

I pulled a beer out of my pack and handed it to him. “This is from the
Colonel and me and all the guys in Doc Fiddler’s,” I told him. “We all
talked about it, and we decided that somebody ought to come over
here and buy you guys a drink in appreciation for what you are doing.
Well, here I am!”

John ‘Chickie’ Donohue

A Crazy Adventure in a Crazy War is the amazing true story of a young man going to take his buddies a few cans of beer – in the heat of the Vietnam war. In 1967 – having seen students protesting against the Vietnam war, some New York City bar friends decided that someone should hop over to Vietnam to buy their various neighbourhood army buddies a beer, to show them that SOMEONE appreciates what they’re doing over there. One man was up for the challenge: John “Chickie” Donohue.

flag of USA on grass field

A U. S. Marine Corps veteran turned merchant mariner, Chickie decided he wasn’t about
to desert his buddies on the front lines when they needed him most.

Chickie set off on an adventure that changed his life forever. Armed with Irish luck and
a backpack full of alcohol, he made his way to Qui Nho’n, tracking down his disbelieving
friends one by one. But Chickie saw more of the war than he ever bargained for unexpectedly getting caught up for a night on the front line in the DMZ (Demilitarized
Zone), and for weeks in Saigon during the Tet Offensive.

In the process of undertaking this well-intentioned but ill thought-through adventure,
Chickie learnt a lot about himself and most importantly, changed his view on the
Vietnam War, having seen first-hand the craziness of the whole endeavour and
ultimately realising that the American government was lying to the American people.

photography of person holding glass bottles during sunset

Gradually, I began to see that the protesters, however disrespectfully, were at least
trying to stop this madness. They weren’t acknowledging that so many young men
were doing what they truly believed was their duty—to their country, their family, their neighbourhood. They weren’t acknowledging that the soldiers were patriots, that they were heroes. We, in turn, didn’t see at the time that the protesters loved our country, too. What they didn’t like was our leadership. They were trying to stop more boys from being killed for somebody else’s legacy. After what I’d witnessed on my journey, I could definitely agree with that.

In June 2017, Task and Purpose’s “The Unbelievable True Story Of The Greatest Beer Run In History” summarized Donohue’s storied trip to Vietnam during the war:

Drunk ideas, while entertaining, rarely end well. But there are exceptions. Like that time in New York in the late 1960s when a conversation about anti-war protesters led one veteran to set off on the greatest beer run in history … What followed was an 8,000 mile, four-month odyssey. Donohue trekked across a war-torn country, talked his way onto transport trucks and military aircraft, all so he could meet up with local guys from his neighborhood and bring them a cold — okay, lukewarm — brew.

“A lot of my friends were serving in Vietnam, and I just wanted to go over there and buy them a beer,” he candidly explained in a 2015 video short, in which Donohue met up with three of the servicemen he’d provided with beer in Vietnam: Bobby Pappas, Tom Collins, and Ricky Duggan.

… Donohue talked his way onto convoys, military mail planes, and transport helicopters. He even got caught in the Tet Offensive and was briefly stranded when his ship left port without him. So he hung around, caught up with his buddies on the front lines for a bit longer, and by March 1968, made his way back to Inwood where his beer run quickly became a local legend.

I love stories that immerse me in another time and place especially if they let me have an understanding of a fascinating story that I never knew much about before – and WHAT a story this one was!

The topic of the Vietnam War is not one that I’m very familiar with – except for its portrayal in films like Platoon & Good Morning Vietnam, so it was fascinating to reda this very unusual take on it, especially from a character like Chickie. His writing style is very conversational and it was like sitting down with an unforgettable character and hearing the shaggiest of shaggy dog stories from them! I have gone on to do a lot of research into this story after reading the book and you can find out more here if you found Chickie’s story as incredible as I did.

silhouette of mountains under cloudy sky

Chickie makes you feel like you are experiencing the highs and lows of his epic journey right alongside him and his way of weaving small details into his narrative means that you learn a lot through his unorthodox approach to life. He brings the characters he encounters to life beautifully too – and we get to know his mates and why he felt so strongly about this epic adventure in beer delivery at first hand, making them spring to life and immersing us in his larger than life exploits.

You can’t help liking Chickie and admiring him for his get up and go. There has been a great deal of discussion about some of the truths behind Chickie’s story, but my decision was to lose myself in the telling of this tale, whether it was a tall tale or not – and just enjoy the ride. I loved the descriptions he gave of the countries he passed through and it definitely contributed to the degree of itchy feet I’m experiencing due to the ongoing lockdown.

white house between two cliffs

People who love an immersive and intriguing non-fiction read will find much to fascinate them here. Mr On The Shelf is a history teacher and I’ve recommended it to him as I know that he’ll love the character of Chickie just as much as I did. I was delighted to read that it is goin to be made into a movie and we will definitely go together and enjoy the experiences of seeing Chickie’s adventures come to life on the silver screen.

Huge thanks to Anne Cater for inviting me onto another original and interesting blog tour through Random Things Tours and to Octopus publishing for choosing such fascinating books to publish – Buy yourself a copy here and enjoy Chickie’s epic adventure yourself this winter; you might even get it finished before seeing the movie!

The Greatest Beer Run Ever : A Crazy Adventure in a Crazy War *SOON TO BE A MAJOR MOVIE*, Hardback Book

Writer On The Shelf

John 'Chickie' Donohue Snuck into a Vietnam War Zone to Bring Beer
John ‘Chickie’ Donohue

John “Chickie” Donohue joined the United States Marine Corps at the age of
seventeen and spent several years as a Merchant Mariner after his discharge. His
work took him to numerous foreign ports, including Saigon during the Vietnam War.
After the war, he became a Sandhog, or tunnel builder, and eventually became the
Legislative and Political Director of Sandhogs, Local 147, Laborers International Union
of North America, a post in which he served for over three decades. Donohue is a
graduate of the Harvard University John F. Kennedy School of Government where he
received his Master of Public Administration degree. He is happily married to Theresa
“Terri” O’Neil and spends his time between New York, Florida, and West Cork, Ireland.


Peter Farrelly, writer and producer of Green Book, is turning THE GREATEST BEER
RUN EVER into a movie, currently slated for Autumn 2020 (TBC). In 2018 Green Book
won the Golden Globe for Best Screenplay and the Oscar for Best Picture, Best Original
Screenplay, and Best Supporting Actor. Farrelly has also directed and produced Dumb
and Dumber, Shallow Hal, Me, Myself and Irene, There’s Something About Mary, and the
2007 remake of The Heartbreak Kid.

The Running Wolf

When a Prussian smuggler is imprisoned in Morpeth Gaol in the winter of 1703, why does Queen Anne’s powerful right-hand man, The Earl of Nottingham, take such a keen interest?

At the end of the turbulent 17th century, the ties that bind men are fraying, turning neighbour against neighbour, friend against friend and brother against brother. Beneath a seething layer of religious intolerance, community suspicion and political intrigue, The Running Wolf takes us deep into the heart of rebel country in the run-up to the 1715 Jacobite uprising.

Hermann Mohll is a master sword maker from Solingen in Prussia who risks his life by breaking his guild oaths and settling in England. While trying to save his family and neighbours from poverty, he is caught smuggling swords and finds himself in Morpeth Gaol facing charges of High Treason.

Determined to hold his tongue and his nerve, Mohll finds himself at the mercy of the corrupt keeper, Robert Tipstaff. The keeper fancies he can persuade the truth out of Mohll and make him face the ultimate justice: hanging, drawing and quartering. But in this tangled web of secrets and lies, just who is telling the truth?

I love investigating the real history and characters found in the books I’m reading and Helen Steadman does an amazing job of transporting you back in time and reliving this turbulent and fascinating part of history, which is jam-packed full of double-crossing, back-stabbing, subterfuge and unsteady allegiances  – I could not put to down and it has left me with a real book hangover as it was so immersive and exciting a tale.

The Running Wolf truly gives us a fascinating insight into Hermann Mohll’s experiences and allows us to travel back in time and witness these events unfolding as Hermann’s position alters and his position radically alters and he ends up in Morpeth Gaol as well as getting the wider impact of these changes  at a very intriguing time in history from the perspective of some unforgettable characters and set me off in search of more information about what it was like to be living through this time in history…

This is a really engrossing read. Steadman has an excellent mixture of characters in this novel – which really shows the reader that these turbulent events had an impact on life whoever you were and whatever your situation, providing much food for thought about religious intolerance, independence and morality during this period for a 21st-century readership. I think that readers of historical novels have had plenty of Tudor tales to enjoy and this novel might serve to increase their awareness of an equally fascinating period in history and I’m sure after reading this that they will get totally caught up in the dangers and intrigues of a very different period

gold sword on red textile

I think that Steadman is just as skilful in writing about domestic matters for ordinary people as she is about the aristocracy and machinations in terms of politics at this time and the way that the impact of these events was so vividly depicted was a real strength of this novel. It was interesting to hear about these struggles in Morpeth and see the wider experiences leading up to the Jacobite rebellion as a Scot and I am definitely keen to do more research into this period in Northern England after reading this intriguing tale.

green grass field near gray rock formation under gray sky during daytime

I loved the fact that Herman’s story brings the personal into the historical research and we see exactly how difficult her choices were And as usual, I spent a lot of time online after finishing it, looking up the facts about this period in Morpeth’s history as I love the way that this part of the country was beleaguered by both Scottish and English troops across the years as the Borders and Northumberland were fought over bitterly. I fell into a bit of a rabbit hole finding out as much as I could about The Earl of Nottingham, as he was SUCH a fascinating character in his own right. His role as Queen Anne’s right hand man makes for engrossing reading and I found myself totally gripped by a tale that I’d known very little about beforehand

grayscale photo of barbwire with water droplets

Fans of historical epics and enthusiasts of novels exploring the role of this period in history from a more personal perspective will love this beautifully written novel and I will be recommending it to readers who love period fiction and strongly written literary narratives. I really enjoyed this journey with Hermann and Robert through a fascinating episode in English history and heartily recommend that you too delve into this period in all its turbulent glory and find out more about it for yourself. Buy yourself a copy here and spend an afternoon like I did, totally wrapped up in this intelligent and engaging novel that wears its learning lightly and carries you forward as you are compelled to know what unfolds for these characters whose stories remain with you long after you’ve finished reading their history

Follow the other bloggers on lovely Kelly from Love Reading Group’s tour and see what they have found to love about this fascinating and compelling historical read.

Writer On The Shelf

Helen Steadman lives in the foothills of the North Pennines, and she particularly enjoys researching and writing about the history of the north east of England. Following her MA in creative writing at Manchester Met, Helen is now completing a PhD in English at the University of Aberdeen to determine whether a writer can use psycho-physical techniques to create authentic fictional characters.


The Girl and The Goddess

Meet Paro. A girl with a strong will, a full heart and much to learn. Born into a family reeling from the ruptures of Partition, follow her as she crosses the precarious lines between childhood, teenage discovery and realising her adult self all while navigating different cultures, religions and identities.

Returning to her core themes of feminism, healing and mythology in her most powerful and personal work yet, Nikita’s masterful poetry, along with her beautiful hand-drawn illustrations, taps into the rich well of Hindu mythology, conjuring up jasmine scented voices and ancestral smiles as Paro confronts fear, desire and the very darkest parts of herself in the search for meaning and empowerment.

This fascinating read introduces us to the spellbinding story of Paro, who struggles to liver her life according to her own inner truths and is terrified to expose her reality to other people, for fear of the judgement that lurks first and foremost within her own heart. The duality at the heart of this book spells out in gorgeously crafted language the complexities of this dual life, of living with two contrasting cultures and worlds within you at the same. This means that you have one foot on sea and one on shore, never feeling quite at home in either. Paro has to straddle two Very different worlds which means that the harmony within the writing merely serves to emphasise the dissonance in her lived experience

This is a book that does not shy away from the full gamut of human experience and it’s so sensitively portrayed that you feel like you are able to experience the struggles here for yourself . There will be much here for readers with their own struggles and divisions to contend with and it’s the kind of book that your thoughts return to across the day as it’s so thought provoking and cerebral.

Gill’s book is enhanced by the stunningly beautiful illustrations that complement the shifting narrative that transitions skilfully between prose and poetry that never feels jarring or dissonant. The addition of pertinent mythology increased the universality of the message and reminds us that these internal divisions have existed from time immemorial and the ancients understood this perhaps even more than we do. There is comfort to be found in connecting with these ancient stories and there is lots there to go off and explore if you are unfamiliar with these classical allusions

The beauty of the book as an artefact is mirrored in the beauty of the writing and I think this book would make a stunning Christmas gift for any deep thinkers that you know and love. It’s a book to dip into and be delighted by and I’m sure this is one I’ll return to as it had such a lot of layers of meaning to it.

It’s another one of the reasons that I love blogging, that I come across books like this serendipitously that I might never have encountered and I’d like to thank Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for always keeping my expectations and TBR high! I really recommend this as one of my winter reads and think that it could be a wonderful palate cleanser if you’ve lost your reading mojo during the second Lockdown

Treat yourself to a copy of The Girl and the Goddess

Buy at Amazon comBuy via HiveBuy via

Writer On The Shelf

Nikita Gill is a British-Indian writer and artist living in the south of England. With a huge online following, her words have captivated hearts and minds all over the world. Nikita is an ambassador for National Poetry Day and is a regular speaker at literary events.
Her previous works include Fierce Fairytales and Great Goddesses. The Girl and The Goddess is her first novel.
With over 558k followers on Instagram, 125k likes on Facebook and 36k followers on Twitter, Nikita’s fans include Cara Delevingne, Alanis Morisette, Jameela Jamil and Kristen Bell.

Instagram @nikita_gill
Facebook @nikitagillwrites
Twitter @nktgill


Who was Beethoven’s ‘Immortal Beloved’?

After Ludwig van Beethoven’s death, a love letter in his writing was discovered, addressed only to his ‘Immortal Beloved’. Decades later, Countess Therese Brunsvik claims to have been the composer’s lost love. Yet is she concealing a tragic secret? Who is the one person who deserves to know the truth?

Becoming Beethoven’s pupils in 1799, Therese and her sister Josephine followed his struggles against the onset of deafness, Viennese society’s flamboyance, privilege and hypocrisy and the upheavals of the Napoleonic wars. While Therese sought liberation, Josephine found the odds stacked against even the most unquenchable of passions…

Book cover for Immortal by Jessica Duchen

Regular visitors to my blog know that I just love non-fiction and adore being introduced to stories from the past with an angle that I haven’t heard of before, or that I think I know all about and then feel absolutely amazed that I have so little real knowledge of the subject by the end of my reading.  I also love music and was absolutely intrigued to be offered a place on the blog tour and really wanted to find out more about the mysterious ‘Immortal Beloved’ who played such an important part in Beethoven’s private life. I was absolutely delighted when Anne Cater wrote to me to ask if I’d like to be on the blog tour for Immortal by Jessica Duchen and I’m happy to report that I enjoyed discovering the truth behind this legendary love story every bit as much as I was anticipating.

tilt selective photograph of music notes

Narrated from the perspective of of Countess Therese Brunsvik, Jessica Duchen reveals a theory that Therese’s sister, Josephine, was the subject of the famous letter found after Beethoven’s death addressed to his ‘Immortal Beloved’. This novel allows us a real insight into that turbulent period, both personally and politically to get a fresh perspective on a tale that music historians and romantics have debated for the last couple of centuries and in this wonderfully readable novel, we are privileged to have a ringside seat…

We are given a wide-ranging insight into Beethoven’s fascinating life and it’s not just his own life events that are so vividly rendered in this novel, we are also able to expand our view of the world at a time where everything was changing. Because I am a huge fan of historical biographies, I was so excited to read about his life in context with what was going on in the wider world around him, as well as get a fresh insight into this legendary romantic mystery and I feel that through reading Jessica Duchen’s account I could connect with his story in a very real way.

flowers on piano

What I loved about the book was the feeling of getting to know Beethoven the man, through being able to turn the pages of this novel and feel like you are able to gain a small insight into his inner thoughts and feelings as his life unfolded. It was also very interesting to hear about this period from the perspective of Therese and see what living through these times was like from a female perspective, in terms of the freedoms and limitations that even women of substance were subjected to…

Although there are several theories which extrapolate about what might have happened and who exactly the letter might have been intended for, we still do not have the answers to this day –  I like the fact that this book presents a credible, fascinating and comprehensive theory that allows us to see how his life love and music all intertwined in a fascinating and beautifully written historical tale.

person reading musical note

I absolutely loved this intriguing and original book that transports you back in time so that you can really connect with these characters and their lives. You do not have to be a classical music fan to get drawn into this legendary romance and you will be amazed at the way the spirit of his music seems to permeate the pages and feeling like you know what has inspired them immediately makes you want to listen to them as you read…

I love doing my research after finishing a book I’ve enjoyed and if you are intrigued by this love story, you could find out more here. You will be able to see real extracts from his letters and read all about the man himself as well as get details of what other people think about this enduring romantic mystery.

If you are intrigued by my research about Beethoven and would like to read more about his epic adventures then follow the blog and definitely buy yourself a copy of this fascinating read on Hive if you feel intrigued to know more. Thank you to Anne Cater and Unbounders for always suggesting the most tempting reads and look back over the other blogposts below…

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Writer On The Shelf

Jessica Duchen - Biography

Jessica Duchen writes for and about music, encompassing fiction, biography,  journalism, plays, narrated concerts and opera librettos (notably Roxanna Panufnik’s Silver Birch at Garsington Opera, 2017). She was classical music  correspondent for the Independent from 2004 to 2016 and has written for the Guardian, the Sunday Times, the Observer and BBC Music Magazine. Her  biographies of the composers Gabriel Faure and Erich Wolfgang Korngold have met with wide acclaim and her novel Ghost Variations (Unbound, 2016) was chosen by John Suchet in the Daily Mail as his Best Read of 2016. Jessica was born in London and studied music at Cambridge. She lives in London with her violinist husband.

 Twitter @jessicaduchen

Praise for the book

‘Deeply knowledgable, emanating from a profound understanding … this new book brings the human, vulnerable side of Beethoven into focus for our twenty-first-century audience’ Marin Alsop

‘Dazzlingly-rendered … pulls you into a vanished world and an utterly compelling love story – at its centre, one of music’s greatest and most enduring mysteries.

Few authors understand better than Jessica Duchen the way music can change the course of a life; and few writers make that music leap more vividly off the page’ –Richard Bratby –

Fallen Angels – Orenda Blog Tour

Ever-dogged Bergen PI Varg Veum has to dig deep into his own past as he investigates the murder of a former classmate. Vintage, classic Nordic Noir from international bestselling author Gunnar Staalesen.

When Bergen PI Varg Veum finds himself at the funeral of a former classmate on a sleet-grey December afternoon, he’s unexpectedly reunited with his old friend Jakob – guitarist of the once-famous 1960s rock band The Harpers – and his estranged wife, Rebecca, Veum’s first love.

Their rekindled friendship is thrown into jeopardy by the discovery of a horrific murder, and Veum is forced to dig deep into his own adolescence and his darkest memories, to find a motive … and a killer.

Tense, vivid and deeply unsettling, Fallen Angels is the spellbinding, award-winning thriller that secured Gunnar Staalesen’s reputation as one of the world’s foremost crime writers.

Another hugely enjoyable slice of Nordic Noir, Fallen Angels is also a tense and well-plotted murder mystery with a fast paced storyline and some intriguing side plots that kept me turning the pages and proves that when it comes to choosing writers in translation, there’s no-one like Orenda.

bird's-eye view photo of city near ocean

Just when I think that the last Orenda book I read was the best one yet, she finds another book that blows me away! When I received Fallen Angels to review I was really in the mood for some clasic noir and this definitely hit the spot! Thanks so much to the lovely Anne Cater for keeping my spirits and my TBR high during this second entry into Lockdown the sequel, and ensuring that we all come together to share the love for these amazing books across these winter nights

Fallen Angels certainly has got touches of so many of my favourite genres: it’s set in Norway so it’s got many Nordic elements and it’s got plenty of elements of a classic murder mystery too. Add all of that together and add in the fact that it’s got a musical twist in the introduction of The Harpers and you can see that I was immediately in my element as this all combined to make for compelling reading

PI Varg Veum returns to his hometown to attend an old friend’s funeral, and that’s where the past and the future start to collide in a way that he could never have predicted– despite the fact that this is the latest in a series of Varg’s adventures, you don’t need to have read the previous novels to thoroughly enjoy Fallen Angels, it can absolutely be read as a stand-alone. Although, I guarantee that if you do, you’ll be immediately tempted into ordering the rest of the series as you will go far to find a more compelling and well written slice of classic PI Crime fiction…

I love novels that make me feel like I’ve got to know the country that they’re set in and I loved being taken back in time to hear about Varg’s past and how it has influenced him as a detective. Varg means wolf and it is clear to see that he prefers standing out from the pack. I loved the setting and if anything, it’s made me even more determined to start visiting places I haven’t been once this period is over. Orenda books always make me so grateful that we have amazing publishers bringing us books in translation so that we can gain access to such a wide range of crime fiction as we all know that Scandinavians do it so very well. Again, I’m grateful to Karen for working so hard to cleanse and develop our reading palette and I’m spoiled for choice thanks to some of the back catalogue I piled up during #Orentober

maroon house near dock and mountain

The insight into the investigation was compelling and I loved getting insights into the way Bergen has changed through the decades and the combination of elements within the story – which touches on sexism, nostalgia and friendships as well as the crime elements to boot added a diverse and moreish element to this novel that was satisfyingly different and kept me immersed in it as I did my Sunday afternoon read last week.

Many novels in this genre are all plot and display a real disregard for the writing itself. Not so Staaalesen as his writing is precise and well-paced, showing a real talent for creating a sense of place and time and taking us there alongside him. The parts of the novel which take us back in time stood out for me as some of the most well evoked that I’ve encountered in this genre and made me turn the pages long into the night to find the threads linking these events in Varg’s past and stringing them together to draw the threads of this mystery together.

house near the body of water

This is a stone cold classic within the Nordic crime genre make for a satisfying, gripping and unsettling read that drew me in completely. I can’t wait for Mr OnTheShelf to finish reading it so we can talk about it together as I found its atmosphere so compelling The fact that he’s also engrossed speaks volumes as he’s not generally a fiction reader and Fallen Angels had him as gripped as I was.

#TeamOrenda Bloggers have produced a series of amazing blog posts about this novel and if you haven’t read them already then you’re in for a treat. Check out the #BlogTour poster to see who else is creating the #FallenAngels buzz

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My partner on the #BlogTour today is the lovely @mm_cheryl and here is the link to her blog so that you can check it out too

To buy yourself a copy of Fallen Angels , click here on Hive and join us in celebrating another book in this first class series full of Nordic magnificence.

Writer on The Shelf

One of the fathers of Nordic Noir, Gunnar Staalesen was born in Bergen, Norway, in 1947. He made his debut at the age of twenty-two with Seasons of Innocence and in 1977 he published the first book in the Varg Veum series. He is the author of over twenty titles, which have been published in twenty-four countries and sold over four million copies. Twelve film adaptations of his Varg Veum crime novels have appeared since 2007, starring the popular Norwegian actor Trond Espen Seim. Staalesen has won three Golden Pistols (including the Prize of Honour) and Where Roses Never Die won the 2017 Petrona Award for crime fiction, and Big Sister was shortlisted in 2019. He lives with his wife in Bergen.

Translator On The Shelf

Don Bartlett completed an MA in Literary Translation at the University of East Anglia in 2000 and has since worked with a wide variety of Danish and Norwegian authors, including Jo Nesbø and Gunnar Staalesen’s Varg Veum series: We Shall Inherit the Wind, Wolves in the Dark and the Petrona award-winning Where Roses Never Die. He also translated Faithless, the previous book in Kjell Ola Dahl’s Oslo Detective series for Orenda Books. He lives with his family in a village in Norfolk.

The Searcher Tana French Blog tour


‘One of the most compulsive psychological mysteries since Donna Tartt’s The Secret History‘ THE TIMES
Cal Hooper thought a fixer-upper in a remote Irish village would be the perfect escape. After twenty-five years in the Chicago police force, and a bruising divorce, he just wants to build a new life in a pretty spot with a good pub where nothing much happens.

But then a local kid comes looking for his help. His brother has gone missing, and no one, least of all the police, seems to care. Cal wants nothing to do with any kind of investigation, but somehow he can’t make himself walk away.

Ever since The Searcher landed on my doormat, it’s been hard to keep to my reading schedule and be disciplined as I knew that it was going to be something really special before I even opened it. I love Tana’s writing and was delighted to have some time to dedicate to this wonderfully well-written standalone crime novel

I absolutely love the Dublin Murder Squad novels, and if you haven’t read them,  you need to add them to your TBR pile without delay as both of them deserve every single one of their plaudits and more – so when Georgia Taylor asked me if I’d like to take part in the blog tour for The Searcher, I absolutely bit her hand off…

brown wooden house covered with snow during daytime

Although I was totally absorbed in the plot of The Searcher, it is undoubtedly the precision and understated lyricism of Tana’s writing that makes it such a treat to read.  The story of Cal and his attempted escape from the real world, only to find it following him is so perfectly realised that it was hard at times to remember that they are fictional characters rather than real people whose lives had become entwined with mine.

Cal is one of those rare characters that emerge fully realised into your reading consciousness and take up residence there. He is a flawed human being, but then aren’t we all. The setting was painted so poetically that I could imagine myself there, hearing twigs snap and figures emerge from the misty gloom. This story really came alive for me and it was one of those novels that you blink and look up from and discover that you’ve just spent the last three hours immersed in it, so captivating and immersive a story it is.

brown wooden chair beside brown wooden table

The people in The Searcher are never presented as just the sum of their experiences, I think that it’s a testament to the strength of the writing that we are so completely immersed in Cal’s journey into this rural heart of darkness that we are happy to be led up several blind alleys through Tana’s skilful plotting and are holding our collective breath by the end as there is so much tension being so expertly managed. Cal’s relationship with the characters around him are convincingly a depicted and the dark humour in some of these interactions gives tiny chinks of relief in what can be at times a relentless and dark read.  I particularly enjoyed the emerging relationship with Trey where they are working on far more than their woodworking skills together.

black wooden framed glass door

You will definitely find it hard to put this book down as you’ll be so wrapped up in this evocative and brilliantly plotted read – you’ll need to keep reading and find out how it all ends. Cal’s hard bitten past means that he is not a character to give up easily, no matter the circumstances, so it’s safe to say that there were parts of this novel that I read with a thudding heart and sweaty palms as I was not sure how it was all going to end. Needless to say, I was not disappointed and I’m really jealous of anyone who’s yet to start reading The Searcher, as they are definitely in for an absolute treat.

I  recommend this artfully crafted and atmospheric novel to people who really like to get their teeth into a story  that is as far from formulaic and predictable as it is possible to be. In the present reading climate, many books are much of a muchness- and this book certainly stood out a mile.  I loved the deft characterisation as much as I enjoyed the plot and I will definitely be recommending it to friends of mine who enjoy a read that will keep them gripped on a chilly Autumn night – Tana’s latest book is a guaranteed contender for my ‘Best of 2020’ list already and it was a no-brainer to include it in my @17DegreesMagazine #AutumnReads feature

You can check it out here, if you’d like to read the whole article

You need to buy this book, that is my lockdown advice for you – use this time profitably and treat yourself to an absolutely amazing read. Thanks to Georgia at Penguin for inviting me on the tour – you could have heard my squeals of delight for miles when I was confirmed. All i can do now is count down to Tana’s next tale – but The Searcher will take some beating, that much is for sure…


‘An engrossing, unpredictable, beautifully written mystery’ SOPHIE HANNAH

‘To say Tana French is one of the great thriller writers is really too limiting. Rather she’s simply this: a truly great writer‘ GILLIAN FLYNN

‘French offers a masterclass in unreliability‘ SUNDAY TIMES

‘I’m a big fan of Tana French‘ IAN RANKIN

The Wych Elm should cement French’s place in the first rank of great literary novelists‘ OBSERVER

‘This book confirms Tana French as [crime fiction’s] biggest contemporary star‘ GUARDIAN

Terrific – terrifying, amazing, and the prose is incandescent‘ STEPHEN KING

‘Completely, indescribably magnificent. Tana French is a pure genius‘ MARIAN KEYES

‘An audacious departure for this immensely talented author . . . not to be missed‘ THE NEW YORK TIMES

Immersive and atmospheric … Cal and Trey could very well be the new sort of heroes we need in this strange world’ ARAMINTA HALL

The Searcher is its own kind of masterpiece’THE WASHINGTON POST

‘This mystery about family, memory and the cracks in both will haunt you for a long, long time‘ ERIN KELLY

Nuanced and compelling’THE NEW YORKER

Soon Cal will discover that even in the most idyllic small town, secrets lie hidden, people aren’t always what they seem, and trouble can come calling at his door.

Our greatest living mystery writer weaves a masterful tale of breath-taking beauty and suspense, asking how we decide what’s right and wrong in a world where neither is simple, and what we risk if we fail.

Writer On The Shelf

Tana French

Tana French is the author of The Searcher, In the Woods, The Likeness, Faithful Place, Broken Harbor, The Secret Place, The Trespasser and The Witch Elm. Her books have won awards including the Edgar, Anthony, Macavity, and Barry awards, the Los Angeles Times Award for Best Mystery/Thriller, and the Irish Book Award for Crime Fiction. She lives in Dublin with her family


When I Come Home Again – Caroline Scott Blog Tour

How can you know who you are, when you choose to forget who you’ve been?

November 1918. 
On the cusp of the end of the First World War, a uniformed soldier is arrested in Durham Cathedral. It quickly becomes clear that he has no memory of who he is or how he came to be there.

The soldier is given the name Adam and transferred to a rehabilitation home where his doctor James tries everything he can to help Adam remember who he once was. There’s just one problem. Adam doesn’t want to remember.

Unwilling to relive the trauma of war, Adam has locked his mind away, seemingly for good. But when a newspaper publishes Adam’s photograph, three women come forward, each just as certain that Adam is their relative and that he should go home with them.

But does Adam really belong with any of these women? Or is there another family waiting for him to come home?

Based on true events, When I Come Home Again is a deeply moving and powerful story of a nation’s outpouring of grief, and the search for hope in the aftermath of the First World War.

If you got the chance to have a read of my #AutumnReads Column earlier this week, you’ll know that I’m a huge fan of historical fiction, especially one that’s set during this period. I work in a school for the children of military families absolutely love books that have a military dimension – especially if it has a WWI angle as so many of our students were lost in the Great War.

When I Come Home Again - Caroline Scott

I adored Caroline’s last book as it contains so many of my favourite aspects of a satisfying read – it had plenty of real life events woven through it and readers of my column know that I often go off to try and find out as much as possible about the people living at the time of characters that I’ve fallen in love with after finishing a book I’ve loved, as I get so caught up in the story. When I Come Home Again was just as satisfying and beautifully written as The Photographer of the Lost and I’m glad I was off duty last weekend, so that I could dedicate a whole day to this book and what a perfect time to be reading it as our school gets ready for our annual season of Remembrance where we come together and remember our own fallen.

When I Come Home Again: A beautiful and heartbreaking WWI novel, based on true events by [Caroline Scott]

Caroline Scott’s second novel just proves that she is the number one writer of war fiction for me with a sensitivity and elegance to her writing that is extremely hard to find elsewhere. This is another heartwrenchingly emotional and beautiful read with every element of it absolutely pitch-perfect. I absolutely loved the idea of the desperation of these women all wanting to claim ‘Adam’ as their own and can’t help but feel empathy for all of the women who were left feeling like this, just so desperate to see their loved ones again. Perhaps the fact that it’s a week where we at school are remembering the stories of our own fallen that made it an extra poignant read for me but at times I felt overwhelmed with emotional all the unspoken stories of the boys who never came home and the boys who came home, yet sometimes wished they lay in France with their fallen brothers…

red poppy flower

When I Come Home Again is a beautifully evocative and heartbreaking read at times, it is written in such a skilful way that allows Caroline Scott to deploy all of her historical research without ever losing sight of the fact that in a novel we have to care about the characters that we are reading about and we never falter for a second in this regard.  I am lost in admiration for her skill in bringing this period to life so authentically and making us feel like we are these right alongside them– Adam’s story is impossible not to get emotionally caught up in and I even dreamed about him, I was so immersed in his story. The fact that you know that Caroline Scott has based this all on a true story makes it all the more poignant and I am desperate for our book group to start up again as i think that this would make for the perfect read to get us all engaged, talking and caught up in the beauty and heartbreak of this tale….

When I Come Home Again - Caroline Scott

I absolutely love it when my own world and the world of a book that I am reading with collide.   It was amazing to read about Adam’s story when we have been looking at the women in my school’s history that sent their husbands off to be killed in the Boer War and then found themselves in the heartbreaking situation of having their sons come of age at the onset of WW1 and many of them losing them too. The story of how the war affected everyone, not just the soldiers who fought in it is a very important one and one that really captured my imagination and my emotions this season. I loved Pat Barker’s Regeneration novels and some of the ‘rehabilitation’ here is reminiscent of the arduous treatment revealed in these timeless novels. What Caroline Scott does that affected me so much was never to make me feel like she is using her characters to make a point. Instead the things that you think about and become moved, upset and enraged by are as a consequence of the story, not the other way round. Her sensitivity and respect for the past is written into the fabric of the text and I absolutely loved every moment of it. Even though I wanted to find out answers as I was reading, I was caught in a catch 22 where I was willing the novel to last forever whilst at the same time longing for my questions to be answered – this is the very definition of a satisfying read and if you haven’t bought a copy yet, it has to be next on your Autumn book shopping list.


If you can, head to your nearest independent bookstore or to their online website and get your hands on a copy as soon as you can. I love Caroline’s writing and can’t stop singing her praises. This would make an incredible film and I’d love to cast Sam Heughan as Adam already – if you are not convinced – what do you think of this?

Sam Heughan in First Light role before Outlander | Sam heughan, Sam heughan  outlander, Sam heughan movies

It would be an absolutely wonderful git for someone and in this season of Remembrance, I could think of no more fitting gift for someone close to you. I’m sure that they’ll love it just as much as I did. 

If I haven’t convinced you yet, take a look at what these other fantastic fellow bloggers think

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Writer On The Shelf

Caroline Scott

Caroline completed a PhD in History at the University of Durham. She developed a particular interest in the impact of the First World War on the landscape of Belgium and France, and in the experience of women during the conflict – fascinations that she was able to pursue while she spent several years working as a researcher for a Belgian company.

Caroline is originally from Lancashire, but now lives in southwest France. The Photographer of the Lost was a BBC Radio 2 Book Club pick.