Friday 16 October 2015

GUEST REVIEW: Ken Preston - Joe Coffin: Season One - Reviewed by Kit Power

It gives me great pleasure to host another review from writer, blogger, musician and all round bloody good guy, Kit Power on Confessions of a Reviewer. This is what he thought of Joe Coffin: Season One.

Genre: Horror
Publisher: Ken Preston
Publication Date: 31st Oct 2014
Pages: 470


I guess we should start with ‘Season 1’, because it’s a concept that can mean different things. In this case, it signifies two things - the first is that you're getting four sequential novel length works in a single package, making this one of the more value for money indie bundles I’ve seen in some time. The second is that, in addition to presenting an overall story arc, this also represents the first part of what is clearly set to be a longer running narrative.

It’s an intriguing concept, and one that Ken Preston goes a long way to selling me on, purely on the strength of this offering. The titular Joe Coffin is a great choice for lead. On the surface, he’s an absolute staple of noir fiction - the huge, hulking muscle, mob enforcer, at home with violence and none too imaginative. What I found clever about this book was that Mr. Preston took the decision to put this character - normally a bit part at best, often played on screen by Henry Rollins - front and centre. In the process, we’re invited behind the eyes of this guy. Preston has a fine line to walk here - after all, Coffin isn’t super bright, nor is he an especially deep thinker - but he does have considerable street smarts and a surprising amount of emotional depth. For me, this was one of the great achievements of this book, and I was quickly taken in by the interiority of the character. To have rendered such a brutal character human enough to care about, without sacrificing any of his propensity for violence or darkness, is a far from easy trick, and I have to commend Mr. Preston for the skill with which he achieves this.

The plot I don’t want to get into too much. For one thing, it’s fairly involved, as you might expect from the running time, and for another, I went in pretty much blind, and for me one of the pleasures was following the twists and turns, which come thick and fast, especially in the final part. Suffice it to say that I thoroughly enjoyed it, and again for my money the right balance was struck between finding a dramatically satisfying conclusion, and setting up plenty of drama and possible intrigue for Season 2.

There is strong sustained violence in parts, and also moments of bloody horror. Preston handles such sequences well for the most part, showing a particular skill for fight scenes, with a cinematic prose style that is unfussy and pacy, keeping the action clear and zipping along. Again, this is far, far harder to pull off than this book might make it seem, so kudos there.

My only real criticism overall is one of pacing: there’s a reasonably large cast, and there were a few moments, especially in the first couple of books, where I found the need to ‘check in’ with one of the POV characters slowed things down a touch. Looking back, I do wonder how much that was a result of my decision to ‘binge read’ the season as a single mammoth volume, rather than taking a short break between the books. In any case, the issue certainly lessened for me as the collection proceeded, so maybe it was just an unavoidable by-product of having to introduce an ensemble cast.

Overall then, an enjoyable romp through a UK-noir tinged supernatural horror tale, featuring some stock characters given fresh breath and life by some genuinely skilful and assured writing. I really enjoyed my trip through Joe Coffin Season 1, and I’m excited to see what Season 2 will bring…

If you would like to help support Confessions of a Reviewer then please consider using the links below to buy Joe Coffin or any other books from Ken or indeed anything at all from Amazon. This not only supports me but also lets me know how many people actually like to buy books after reading my reviews.


Book Synopsis:

Get ready. Joe Coffin is on his way. And he's mad as hell.

Joe Coffin is fresh out of jail, but going straight is the last thing on his mind. The sickos who murdered his wife and child are still out there, and he’s going to get revenge.

The problem is, Joe Coffin is in much deeper than he realizes, and his wife might not be as dead as he believes.

Violent, gory, profane and explicit, Joe Coffin is for mature readers only.

Written in serial form, there are four episodes in Season One, each available individually or as a complete set at a significant price saving.

Growing up, Ken Preston never wanted a proper job, and now he sits in his converted cellar, telling lies for a living, whilst being distracted by his two cats, Lily and Luther.

He is the author of a wide range of genre novels, from zombie/cowboy mash-up Population: DEAD! to his YA pirate adventure, The Devil and Edward Teach, and contemporary horror serial, Joe Coffin.

He also writes a series of romantic thrillers, but don't tell anyone.

Pop over to his website to check out more books and for news on the latest releases, or just to say "Hi!", and find out how you could be getting free short stories delivered to your inbox every month.

And for more about Ken, visit his site or find him on social media:

Kit Power lives in the UK and writes fiction that lurks at the boundaries of the horror, fantasy, and thriller genres, trying to bum a smoke or hitch a ride from the unwary.

In his secret alter ego of Kit Gonzo, he also performs as front man (and occasionally blogs) for death cult and popular beat combo The Disciples Of Gonzo,

And for more about Kit, visit his site or find him on social media:

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