In the face of my equine distress, Nightingale by Peter Dorward seemed a much safer night time reading bet, not a thirsty horse in sight, just terrorism, murder on a huge scale and the odd kidnap or killing here and there. Add in a handy dual-purpose for a fountain pen, which may lead to them all being sold with a government health warning in future and you probably won't be allowed to own one until you are eighteen and have a licence, and surely there was nothing to give me nightmares there?
I had already earmarked this book from Two Ravens Press as a good read ready for when I was in an Italian mood and urging towards a bit of unsettling terrorism but I had no idea it was going to be such a page-turner in the process.
It's apparent from page one that Don is in trouble, his adult daughter Rosie is on a life-support machine but listening to him vowing to tell her the truth about his past life. Caught up before Rosie's birth as a survivor of the terrorist bombing of Bologna railway station, Don's life unfolds as one of naivity and innocence unwittingly caught up in intrigue way beyond his ken.He is readily and easily seduced by the edgy lifestyle of the regulars at Nightingale, the bar in Bologna that Don discovers whilst travelling with his girlfriend.
Romance, violence and deceit infiltrate everyone's lives and Peter Dorward gives the reader few clues about who to trust and Don even fewer as he gets dragged deeper into the nightmare.Nor a clue about how it would end, I was so involved I didn't see it coming until literally minutes before, in fact at about the same time as Don.
What worked on a deeper level, crackling away beneath the surface of Nightingale, was a less obvious take on the insidious nature of terrorist violence.
How the wars of the parents can become a hot-house nursery for breeding terrorism in the next generation. Early and violent deaths of parents a catalyst for a vicious circle of ongoing retribution as the children seek their revenge as orphaned victims.Childhood anger with nowhere to go translated into an adulthood fraught with danger, their boundary-less lives meaning they would stop at nothing, because they actually had no reason to, they had nothing left to lose.They just needed to hurt someone, anyone, but knew not why.
The fountain pen incident one episode of several where Peter Dorward cleverly turned the volume up a fraction and you just hoped that Don would sense the danger.
This was a well written page-turner that had me gripped start to finish, late night reading when I was reduced to one-eye awake one-asleep, in a desperate effort to finish. In the end I had to give into sleep with thirty pages to go, except my eyes were asleep but my brain wasn't and I spent an age wondering how on earth this was going to end.
Nightingale absolutely deserves to find itself on bookseller's shelves everywhere, I'd love to be proved wrong but somehow I doubt it will. Small, honourable independent publisher fighting for a market, but at least we get a chance to share the good reads here and I must add Peter Dorward to my list of Doctors Who Write because by day I now discover he's a GP in Edinburgh.
But what of the fountain pen I hear you ask?
I almost forgot.
Ah yes, well, have you finished your breakfast and allowed a good three hours for it to digest?
In that case come back in an hour or so and I'll tell you then.