Tuesday, June 23, 2015


My fellow Ngaio Marsh Award judge, acclaimed novelist and creative writing university tutor James George, pointed me in the direction of a new-to-me New Zealand thriller writer recently. Thomas Ryan is a former soldier who has been working on his writing for years. His first thriller, THE FIELD OF BLACKBIRDS, has gone through a few iterations, with work from top-notch manuscript assessors like George, Stephen Stratford (editor of Paul Thomas and Paddy Richardson's books), and Ngaio Marsh longlistee Tina Shaw.

I started reading Ryan's debut while travelling in the Peak District this weekend, and am enjoying it thusfar. I'll be looking to grab the second in the Jeff Bradley series, THE MARK OF HALAM, later this year.

The blurb: Former SAS soldier Jeff Bradley thought he had left warzones behind when he inherited a vineyard in rural New Zealand. But now his vineyard manager, Arben Shala, has gone missing in his native Kosovo. An enigmatic message tells Jeff that his friend is in grave danger.

Determined to find Arben and bring him home, Jeff travels to Kosovo and finds a lawless state in the grip of criminal gangs. Corrupt officials obscure every lead. With the help of USAID director Morgan Delaney, Jeff delves into the province’s seedy underworld and uncovers a conspiracy of terrifying scale. A web of dark connections links the captors with a terrorist bombing campaign across Europe, and now it is no longer just Arben whose survival is at stake. Double-crossed by allies, watched at every turn, can Jeff get to the heart of the conflict before the warlords get to him?

The author: Thomas Ryan has been a soldier in a theatre of war, traded in Eastern Europe, trampled the jungles of Asia, and struggled through the trials of love and loss: ideal life experiences for a would-be author. Schooled by professionals who have helped him hone his literary style, Ryan is quickly establishing himself as a skilled writer of riveting thrillers and short stories. He considers himself foremost a storyteller, a creator who has plunged his psyche into the world of imagination and fantasy. Taking readers on a thrilling journey is what motivates Ryan as a writer.

Author website: www.thomasryanwriter.com

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