Book Review: The Boy, the mole, the fox and the Horse

The Boy, the mole, the fox and the Horse is: a work of art, an object of beauty, a story of hope in a world that at times feels geared towards stifling any form of positivity. There is nothing saccharin in the musings. Rather, the story of the titular protagonists offers reflections on the difficulties inherent when living, and how one may try to cope when feeling lonely or anxious. The central message is about the importance of kindness, and that love exists in unexpected places if one is brave enough to let it in. Mention is made of friendship and its importance, and that good friends may be found outside the human race.

 

The story opens when a lonely boy meets a cake loving mole and they strike up a conversation. They exchange views on a variety of topics and the problems they each face.

When the fox comes along the mole is scared, but this does not stop him performing an act of kindness. The underlying feel of the book is that it is beneficial for all if we look out for others as well as ourselves. Self-care is important. In talking of love, this is where it needs to begin.

 

More is said in the illustrations than in the words. They are deliberately messy in places. Imperfections are a part of everything in nature, including ourselves, and beauty can still be found and appreciated. There is no shying away from difficulty in these pages. Accepting that life can be hard but all things pass is a recurrent theme.

In his introduction the author states that he wants readers to be able to dip in and out of the book. It is not necessary to read it in any order, or indeed to read it all – although I suspect readers will, at least first time through. The characters accept each other as they are. They are seeking a home and find it after what feels like a long journey.

 

Just as the book is mostly about the art, so I have tried to give a flavour of what it offers with these pictorial examples rather than in words. There is so much more than I have included here. The story will resonate in a visceral way for those who find their innermost concerns reflected. Its power is in the simplicity with which it represents complex issues.

 

For the lonely, the anxious, the sad and those who feel out of place;
for the worried who look at our world and despair of the careless cruelty and wanton waste;
for those whose worries feel overwhelming, for whom the future looks bleak;
this is a warm hug of a book that I urge you to read.

   

The Boy, the mole, the fox and the Horse is published by Ebury Press.

Book Review: The Kill

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The Kill, by Jane Casey, is classic crime fiction. It features troubled cops with messy personal lives trying to solve difficult cases involving multiple murders, in this case of police officers in London. There is sexism, relationship breakdown and corruption within the force.  The protagonist, Maeve Kerrigan, is a beautiful young detective who must overcome stereotypical prejudices. Her colleague, Josh Derwent, is physically strong and outwardly unpleasant but with a soft side that is rarely acknowledged. Alongside this pair we have the respected, older cop with secrets to hide and the career minded woman who nobody seems to like. It is the typical team of characters that works well for fans of the genre.

Maeve Kerrigan is shown to be strong in so many ways: putting up with the running commentary of sexist remarks from colleagues; gaining the upper hand when cornered by a group of young thugs; successfully fighting back when attacked by a desperate suspect. It is a shame that she has less success in fighting back the tears at inopportune moments whilst at work, a problem which none of her male colleagues appears to have.

Josh Derwent displays a serious attitude problem towards women as well as an apparent inability to control his temper in public. Neither of these attributes would suggest that he could become a good upholder of law and order. As the author is reported to have a ‘unique insight’ into crime fighting and to incorporate ‘gritty realism’ into her stories I do feel some concern about the make up of our police force. I hope that she took plenty of artistic licence in developing her team of characters.

The plot is compelling and the writing flows effortlessly until about three quarters of the way through the book. At this point there is a major development which felt rushed before the pace once again evened out and progressed smoothly towards the denouement. This hiccup was unfortunate as it made me feel as if the author had tried to squeeze more into the story than there was room for.

However, throughout the book I wanted to keep turning the pages to find out what happened next, and a great deal certainly happened. I was glad that the focus remained on the crimes rather than personal lives, except where they were deemed relevant. There were twists and turns aplenty with false leads suggested and enough surprises to keep me guessing until the end. The ending was very well done.

This is good crime fiction featuring layered sub-plots and gratifying if questionable practices to get results. Some of the dislikeable characters come good in the end, others get their comeuppance. There were issues to ponder such as how the media reports crime based on a victims looks or perceived morality, and how politicians skew events to feed contrived public prejudices.

If you enjoy the genre then this book is worth reading. It is the fifth Maeve Kerrigan tale and, if the ending is anything to go by, will not be the last.

My copy of this book was provided gratis by the Dead Good Book Group on Goodreads.