Book Review: ‘Devil To Pay’ by Ross Kemp

Posted: 16 November 2013 in Book reviews
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What would you do if your best mate died?  Would you accept it exactly as you were told, or would you question it?  Especially if it seemed out of character?  Nick Kane couldn’t believe that his best mate Ben MacDonald would have killed himself.  It was completely unlike this friend who had such a passion for life and living.  He had a wife and kids.  Something wasn’t right about this and Nick needed to know the truth.


With the help of an old military buddy, John Fardy, he begins his search.  He makes use of the skills he learned in the military to elude a mysterious tracker, the police, thugs and later almost everyone in Afghanistan.  He starts in London at the dingy motel where Ben died.  Certain clues in the room reveal that it couldn’t have been a suicide.  He follows bits of evidence to various places in London until the funeral where he meets up with another old army buddy, Mick Wright.  Nick needs to get to Afghanistan to continue his investigation and Mick just so happens to be working there and in need of some help.  Nick agrees to help and they leave the next day.  He keeps his end of the bargain and helps Mick out before continuing the hunt.

The main place he needs to see is the destroyed village of Priand.  He is taken as close as possible by an Afghan named Arnan.  Nick discovers that the village was in fact destroyed, but those killed were not Taliban as disclosed but in fact all the villagers.  Nick is captured and tortured, but escapes and makes it back to Kabul.  He is taken to a hospital and once again eludes the police (the Afghan police this time) with the help of Mick and Beccy Sorrenti.  He needs to find out why the village was destroyed and who did it.

After some more digging around, he learns that Bulwark (the company that Beccy works for) had a hand in the what happened at Priand and was in fact in league with the Taliban with opium dealing and mining of certain resources.  They inform Beccy’s handler (as it comes out that she works less for Bulwark as for another source) who has them come in to get them out of Afghanistan safely.

And I’ll end it there despite having no problem with disclosing the ending because I don’t recommend reading this book because it is a pile of shit.  It if didn’t need a good mixture of good and bad books on here, I would have put it down well before getting 100 pages in.  But that was my reaction.  Here is why.

Nick Kane is a ridiculous character.  You learn that he was abused by his father and that he has anger problems.  Sure that’s fine and is used to gain sympathy and make you in some sense be able to relate to the character.  But those things aside, he is like some sort of super soldier.  He is an ‘expert in surveillance, advanced driving techniques, interrogation, close-quarters combat and most weapon systems. Burglary.’  And according to how this story was written, he is also an expert detective.  So beyond being a master in everything he does, he rarely gets hurt, despite being in a few scuffles.  When he does get hurt, it only seems to be temporary and he’s back up and running around.  Example.  He’s tortured with electricity and beaten pretty badly.  He gets to the hospital and is only there for a short time before he is up and moving like normal.  Who does that?  Oh yeah.  No one.  Now I understand that soldiers learn a lot of skills and are quite impressive.  I have no doubts there.  But honestly, not even a soldier can do everything that this guy did and have such incredible success and so little bad happen to them.  It is beyond ridiculous.  Thankfully he has more of a personality than Bella Swan.

So in short, he isn’t a character you can connect with.  He has fears (such as not seeing his daughter again), but they don’t seem to stop him from running head first into danger.  I felt nothing for him.

All the other characters were so minor that there was really nothing to think about with them.

So now we get to the content.  Abysmal.  You (the reader) were literally led by a chain through the entire book.  Nick’s every move was detailed, his thoughts feelings, reactions, past experiences, training, relationship, etc.  Now why is that such a bad thing?  Shouldn’t we want to know these things?  To a degree yes.  But it was awfully pretentious.  It didn’t feel like it was added to enhance the story or the characters, but more to exploit the author’s knowledge.  Where it really worked was when the author described the scenery.  That was nicely done.  Otherwise, so much was done to describe the character and his relationships with other characters and his knowledge and expertise that basic plot elements and flow were completely left out.

As for the writing, horrible.  Was an editor even used before this book was published?  I may be a student and a budding writer, but if I can pick out glaring errors, shouldn’t an editor have done the same.  Examples.  The back of the book calls Nick’s mate Ben Webster.  Do you see where I’m going?  At the beginning of this post, I called the guy Ben MacDonald as he is called on page one.  Then at the end of chapter six he disposes of some clothing and then disposes the same clothing again in chapter seven.  Even more ridiculous was in chapter 31 (which I left out of the synopsis in case someone decided to tackle and read this).  Certain events were done three times in the chapter.  The third time confused me because it was very reminiscent of the beginning of the chapter.  And to top off the icing on the cake, the end had no real resolution.  It mentions a resolution coming, but doesn’t detail if it does.  If Ross Kemp (the author) decides to write some other work of fiction, he’d better fire his old editor and get a new one that knows what they are doing.

My recommendation is to not bother with this book.  If it had been better written and I just didn’t enjoy the story, I might suggest taking a shot at it.  But this book was awful.  Oh I could go on and on with this book.  Horrible ending, ridiculous main character, poor writing, and weak story.  If you decide to read it, borrow it from the library rather than waste any money on it.  If possible, enjoy 😉

To buy on Amazon UK

To buy on Barnes and Noble (Nook)



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