Review: NEMESIS by Tony Riches, Published by Head of Zeus

I have found over the years that there are several authors who basically give me big problems. Some I will never look at again – because they put safety catches on a revolver, or on a Glock, for example, which drives me potty. Others because … well, think of Terry Pratchett. Every time he wrote a new book, and like me he used to write two a year, well, that would put paid to my work for a day or two. 

It was the same with Iain Banks. A brilliant writer, whose first book which I read gripped me so badly, I was stuck up all through to five in the morning of the following day because, to use that very tired old phrase, I couldn’t put the damn thing down.

Well, now I’m older and wiser. I don’t stay up all night as I did when I was in my thirties. I can’t cope. Just as I can’t cope with the same whisky intake, curries, fish and chips or steak and kidney puddings from the Duke of Yorks at Iddesleigh (which were superb, but my digestion is not what it was). 

But one thing I do still like is a writer who can invent brilliant characters and runaway plots. 

I read NEMESIS with a high degree of nervousness. I know Tony’s books. I have most of them. And as far as I’m concerned, if I’m going to read about ancient Rome, the politics, the deviousness, the cruelty and viciousness, I’ll pick up one of Tony’s books before anyone else’s. He is a master of the soldier’s story. He can put his readers into the middle of battles and make them smell the blood and filth. Not many authors can make you feel you’ve been through a fight as well as Tony. 

So, hearing that he had written a modern book, I was … well, anxious. 

I need not have been. 

NEMESIS follows the work of a police close protection officer, Michael Bale. A happily married man to a wonderful wife, Roz, his life looks perfect. But he has a problem. He lost his sister when a drug dealer mixed up her order, and gave her a slow-acting hit instead of the fast one she expected. When she felt nothing, she took a second pop, which meant she overdosed and died. 

Which is why, in the very first chapter, we see Bale going through the preparation and execution of a murder. He borrows a gun and visits the dealer at his sales corner. And leaves. He has a fairly solid alibi, and he is fairly well-positioned within the Met police, so he thinks he ought to be safe enough. 

But this is not the only act of revenge. Bale knows that the dealer was only the bottom end of the food chain in this gang of drug dealers. And Bale is determined to bring that gang down – especially the kingpin of the drug gang, Joe Castagna, the son of an Italian immigrant who had set up his own business with prostitution, drugs and anything else that would make him money. Joe had inherited the business, and now rules his part of London with the brutality of a Nero.

That is the task Bale has set himself. To destroy Joe Castagna. 

It’s not giving away much to say all this, since this is the setup in the first few pages of the book. And you will read it all very quickly. If you like Lee Child and Fred Forsyth you are in for a real treat. This book has been well-researched, and Tony writes with such effortless conviction that I defy you not to read the whole story at one sitting.

A brilliant, fast-paced action thriller that will keep you gripped to the very last page. 

Highly Recommended!

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