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by Eugen M Bacon 


ISBN 1 904744 79 6
Retail price 7.99

There are many qualities required of a novel writer such as ability with words; the creation of believable characters; an ability to bring the reader into the action, to the exclusion of his surroundings; facility with humour, colour, drama and plot, etc. Which of these abilities are most required will depend on the type of novel the writer is working with. I would suggest, however, that with a "fast paced thriller", which is how Borderline is described on the cover, the ability to plot should be foremost. This is one skill which was certainly not to the fore in this book.

This novel is unique in my experience in that it is set in both Gambia and Chechnya and deals with a plot to sell weapons-grade uranium to the Chechen resistance. I always feel a little uncomfortable when entertainment, and this book is clearly meant to be that, uses situations that are themselves totally real and totally horrific for the local inhabitants. I find it almost impossible nowadays, for instance, to watch American, or French, films set in Vietnam. Thus the Chechen sections I did find a bit hard to take.

That aside though, and I admit freely it’s a personal thing and shouldn’t really influence my critique, why exactly didn’t this book work for me?

Let me put one doubt aside straight away; Eugen M. Bacon can certainly write. He has a fine grasp of language and some of his sentences are a pure joy. I had the feeling more and more as I read this book, that he would make a fine short story writer. His command of language, the lightness of his touch and his somewhat convoluted thinking would be admirably suited to that field. Indeed his powers and style might also work well in the field of literary fiction. However, here he is giving us a thriller. A thriller containing the elements of terrorism, state policy, corruption, prostitution, AIDS, violence and infidelity.

This is a world where plot is all-important. The author cannot afford to lose his audience. He cannot afford to have them wondering where a chapter is set, who this character is and what exactly is going on. Ideally the reader shouldn’t even be consciously reading, he should be partaking of an adrenalin-filled adventure and, while all the elements of an adrenalin-filled adventure are here, they never coalesce to become that.

I never found myself associating with any of the, rather large cast; mainly because I always had to think twice about who they were. Also I found the final confrontation scene in Gambia rather ridiculous and I felt maybe the author did too?

I am sure Eugen M. Bacon has a future in writing, he has many skills he can develop and exploit. I have to ask, however, if the thriller is his field? If it is, he needs to spend more time plotting.

Open Book

Review by Chris Williams