Monday 15 May 2017

Reconciliation for the Dead by Paul E. Hardisty

Published by Orenda Books on May 30, 2017

I’m such a big fan of Paul E. Hardisty’s Claymore Straker series. The first book, The Abrupt Physics of Dying, was an outstanding debut novel. The second book, The Evolution of Fear, was even better, action-packed and exhilarating and in my eyes, a book that the author would struggle to top. But I was wrong. Reconciliation for the Dead possessed everything I already loved about this series, but it also whacked the tension up a few notches whilst deftly combining a devastating level of brutality with pure, raw emotion in a manner that had me completely hooked and refusing to put the book down.

Though Reconciliation for the Dead is the third book in the series, it’s set before The Abrupt Physics of Dying and therefore appears to be more of a prequel. As a big fan of Clay already, I felt like going back to his time in the South African Army during this book made for perfect timing and I snapped up the chance to delve further into the mind of Clay and gain more of an understanding of his persona and his lifestyle. There is no hiding that Clay is one of my absolute favourite characters ever. He is the epitome of a flawed character. He is so incredibly written by Paul and in such a thought-provoking way too. Because of his past and his upbringing, and the way he lives his life now too, I am sure that Clay is a character that gives many readers conflicted feelings about him. Each book in this series gives us further insight into some of the shocking things he has faced and that he has been involved in and I’ve realised that it doesn’t matter what I learn about him anymore as I will still be his number one fan…

The book is told in two timeframes. In 1981, Clay is in his early twenties and is a paratrooper fighting in Angola, South Africa, alongside his best friend Eben. That is, until they naively become involved in something which in turn leads to Clay’s dishonourable discharge from the army. In 1996, through transcripts from interviews with the South African Trust and Reconciliation Commission, we see Clay try to come to terms with what went on fifteen years previous, and his character is more damaged than ever before.

I love Paul E. Hardisty’s writing. Both his storytelling and the way he deploys his characters is truly divine, authentic and stylish with masses of substance to go with. Reconciliation for the Dead sees the Claymore Straker series at its darkest and most dangerous best, and this is another fantastic book in a series I cannot fault and a series that has easily become my utmost favourite. The book explores a real piece of time and a brutal period in South African history. The author’s writing is incredibly honest and realistic, and the ruthlessness of what takes place in this book is made so easy to picture and imagine to a level that was horrifying.

Clay’s character goes from strength to strength here, but he is not the only character that leaves a lasting impression on the reader. In Reconciliation for the Dead, we see the shocking things people are capable of and the manipulation and lengths some people will go to. This book is so thought-provoking, but as I couldn’t bring myself to put the book down, I found that once I’d finished reading that’s when I could really take everything in. I couldn’t get this book off my mind and went around a week before I picked anything else up. I spent a lot of time considering what I’d read, researching the true events that inspired this book and re-reading parts of this novel and it is one that will stay with me for a long time.

Reconciliation for the Dead is twisted, breathtaking and devastating. It’s a perfectly placed book in this trilogy (or series, I hope). I loved the first two books and felt like with each one I could understand Clay even more, but here we can truly see the implications of his past and how that then impacted upon his actions in the previous two books in the series. This book is complex, scarily chilling and as powerful as fiction comes. If this is the last book in the series then I will be absolutely gutted as each new instalment in the series has been one of my most anticipated reads and they never disappoint. I need more Clay!

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