Tag Archives: BWC

Drinker of the Wind

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Some time ago when I was at the ad agency in Bahrain, I worked with some very talented artists and illustrators. One was Linda Strydom – who created the illustrations for Corpoetry and among so many others there was Francis Tiongsen, his brother David Tiongsen who is nothing short of amazing and many others who do so much more than computer graphics. If you check out their portfolios in the links provided you’ll know what I mean.

All that is by the by. Just thought I’d give some friends a plug!

This poem came about because Francis loved horses and at the same time we were doing a brochure for a real estate project created around the theme of horses, in particular the Arab. He’d created some captivating illustrations which then prompted this poem based on an old Bedouin legend.

 

 

 

 

DRINKER OF THE WIND (sharaab alrreh)

He was Erebeh, he was mystery,
The Arab steed that flew
Across the desert sands
Chasing the storm
His hooves thundering a warning
To those who had sinned
He was the first Drinker of the Wind.
His mane was midnight,
His eyes were the stars
The light from his hooves,
Four galaxies that shone from afar.
One look from him, one shake of his head
The other steeds followed wherever he led
He ruled the old dunes,
He ran wild and free
And his sinews were limned
With good honest sweat:
The Drinker of the Wind.
Long was he hunted,
Hard was he sought
And the Bedouin tribes
Over him once had fought
His was a spirit born to be free
A being not to broken, nor ridden was he.
But legends tell us,
One wild winter night
A lone Beddu approached him,
So humble, polite
And our Arab stallion
He pawed the hard dunes
And took unto him a mare
Pale as the moon
Then he left as he came
That dark winter night
Like a vision, a dream,
A mere flicker of light
Never again seen by mere men
For he truly was 
The first Drinker of the Wind.
Some say they saw him
Against the dawn sky
Some say they hear him,
When the wind rumbles by
But the Bedouin know
And their legends declare
The Drinker of the Wind
Can’t be seen anywhere

For he left as he came
On that wild winter night
When the sky was a mantle
As dark as could be
And the wind moved the dune tides
Like waves on the sea.
No moon, not a star
Shone that magical night
When the Drinker of the Wind
Disappeared from all sight
He flew up to the heavens
The night sky took him home
Where, as he was meant to
He still freely roams
The first Drinker of the Wind.

Note: The Arabian Horse – 

And God took a handful of South wind and from it formed a horse, saying: “I create thee, Oh Arabian. To thy forelock, I bind Victory in battle. On thy back, I set a rich spoil And a Treasure in thy loins. I establish thee as one of the Glories of the Earth… I give thee flight without wings.”

— Bedouin Legend

(Byford, et al. Origins of the Arabian Breed)

 

Twig & Leaf

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All I need is a compliment… I posted a fragment from this piece on Facebook and one person’s reaction prompted me to reproduce this dramatic little dialogue that I wrote many moons ago when there were fewer high rise buildings in Bahrain, when our apartment in Muharraq looked out to the sea where dhows lounged on the beach and the causeway to the Diplomatic area was a quiet passageway and the country was asleep by ten at night.

A TWIG AND A LEAF

A bird introduced the story. It twittered: “This is the story of leaf and twig. Of self and self. Which destiny is yours dear listener? Which road to dusty death would you take?”

Twig:   “The wind blows and I move.”

Leaf:   “The breeze breathes and I dance. I quiver with its tiniest breath. Silver. Golden green. The sunlight warms me and I glory in its warmth. The moonlight shimmers on me and I play a dainty game with moonbeams. But you, you are stiff and angular. Your movements are scratchy. Scritching. And scratching. And squeaky.”

Twig:   “Just because I am more firmly set it doesn’t mean that I don’t feel the wind or the sun. Or that the silver moonlight does not make dramatic patterns with me. I am strong. And you are weak. Too emotional. Too full of movement. Too light. You dance today. But all too soon that loving sun will make you wilt and you will fall and be crushed.”

Leaf:     “Drop I shall some day. But not before the sun and the wind have caressed me into the most exciting hues of green and yellow and russet, a russet that would rival a sunset. Colours that have made poets sing. What poets have sung of you, Twig?”

Twig:     “No. That is true. No poets sing of me. I am the coarse, unlovely of the world. The bark grows hard around me. It shelters me from the sun and the wind of life. But it constrains me too. Confines the sap that flows within. Warm sap that longs to leaf sometimes. That aches to dance.

And, yet I know that if I were a leaf, I would dread the day when I should fall. Having metamor­phosed from glorious green and yellow on to russet and hectic red. Fall and be crushed. Stamped out. And forgotten. No. I would rather be a twig. And never live or love so much, so close to life that some day I shall, I must be turned to dust, ignominiously…under the foot of some uncaring, unthinking, unloving passerby.”

Leaf: “Perhaps. But twig, dear twig, to love is all. Why should it matter how you leave this world? We must all be crushed and torn some day. So live. Live and love and laugh and dance today!”

Twig:   “No. No. I cannot… And yet, should I? No. I must not. For I support the leaves.”

Extract from a work in progress

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I am at last working on a story I had started way back in 1994! It’s also my first novella set in Halifax. I have written one short story set in Lunenburg County in Nova Scotia, and you can read that here, it’s titled A Rhyme and a Reason, the first thriller I have ever attempted.

And now, here’s a peek into a tale to be…

As she approached Scotia Square, Meera looked around seeing everything afresh. She marvelled at the old buildings standing amiably next to newer glass and concrete structures. The red brick and the sombre grey, articulated doorways with raised eyebrows looking forever down their noses at the large plate glass of some upstart new high-rise. Thankfully, there weren’t too many high-rise buildings here. There was an olde-worlde charm she hadn’t noticed before. It’s quite a beautiful old street, she thought. I’ve never really looked at it properly. A bit like Calcutta. Almost straight out of Dickens! Then she smiled, trust me to think of Dickens. I used to think it was a dreary grey English sort of street, which it is, but now I have a job and it takes on a romantic air. I am so, so, lucky. It’s been less than three months since we arrived and I have a job. Part time too, the most wonderful part of all. I can fix dinner, do the housework, make lunch… the plans started to fall into place. I’ll tell Ajoy that now we must do the laundry just once a week. Oh, God! A number two. My bus!

She almost shouted out aloud. Then lifting her sari slightly, displaying silver anklets worn over skin-tone knee-high nylon stockings, she ran to catch her bus. ‘I have a job’ the chorus in her head came to a crashing crescendo as she clambered up the steps and tossed the coins into the receptacle with a flourish. I’m an expert at doing that already. How Canadian will I get? She wondered. Will I ever wear pants? I may have to when it gets really cold. A dress? Never! It must be so strange to have all that cold air going up your legs, oof! She shuddered at the thought of it.

When she reached her stop, Meera almost ran up to the strip mall on at Lacewood and Vimy, where Ajoy had recently established their video rental store. She pushed through the door, he had a couple of older customers and was deep in conversation. so she wandered to the side and looked at the list of videos on offer. Through the corner of her eyes, she watched him speaking with animated gestures to his enchanted audience. Her heart skipped a beat, he had grown old so suddenly. The hair at his temples had begun to grey and there was a thinning patch at the crown of his head. His large soulful eyes, usually edged by laugh lines, had begun to droop in the three months since they had come to Halifax.

Excerpt from ‘Five Lives One Day in Bahrain’

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Until another author friend sends me something to share with you, here’s an extract from Five Lives One Day in Bahrain published by Ex-L-Ence Publishing. Check out the site for many good reads.

Rosita is late:

Rosita had been so exhausted that after her six o’clock Skype call to her mother that morning she’d gone back to sleep and had slipped into such a deep slumber that she’d gone past her softly buzzing alarm and her roommate Wendy’s door-banging departure. She woke with a start, “What time is it?” she exclaimed aloud, rubbing her eyes and yawning all at once. She reached out and looked at her large wristwatch, which she’d set on the small table near her bed. “Oh No! Nine o’clock! How did I do that? Now I’ll have to take a cab, and I was hoping to catch the bus.” The unnecessary extra expense upset her rhythm. But she knew she needed to look good, have all her certificates ready and arrive at least fifteen minutes ahead of the 12:30 pm appointment. No way could she catch a bus now.

There was too much riding on this job! Her very own section for hair styling, a salary of two hundred and fifty dinars plus sponsorship and the lady, an English woman married to a Bahraini, seemed to be kind and understanding. How was she going to get to Budaiya in time? All this buzzed through her mind as she hurriedly showered and sprayed herself with both a new deodorant and the Kenzo she’d used so sparingly and carefully ever since the American marine Ricky had given it to her three months ago. That was something else she’d kept from her mother and the girls at the Red Rose Salon in Juffair.

You can also buy the book here.

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Excerpt from ‘An Appropriate Act of Love’

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Lynda Tavakoli is the first of my author friends to share an excerpt from her book of short stories, Under a Cold White Moon.

Thanks Linda, that sent chills up my spine.

One evening my father failed to return from work. The house had been, as usual, quiet during the day, my elder siblings having by then dispersed to lead more normal lives elsewhere and I now wonder how I never noticed their leaving or indeed how long it had been since I was the only child remaining. The food was on the table; bacon, sausages, tomatoes, potato bread and two eggs – all fried as he liked it and now coagulating on my dad’s plate. Mother sat across from me at the table, hands tidily on her lap; mine stuffed in the pocket of my sweatshirt making bigger the hole already there. Where is he?

For an hour, maybe two, we sat like dead fish frozen into an icy lake and still he did not come. Beyond the window of the kitchen light was being sucked slowly out of the day and finally the grey gloom of evening started to invade the room. A fear was beginning to gnaw at me and although my mother had moved not an inch during that time I regarded the subtle change in her manner with growing panic. The eyes that for so long had scorched her resentment into my soul had taken on the look of a hibernating tortoise reluctant to accept the onset of its awakening. They were dead eyes to match the dead words that finally slunk out from in between her teeth,

“Now are you happy?”

To read her book click on the link above or visit her publisher here.

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Slow down, Life!

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Some time ago a friend sent me this poem in Urdu, which really touched a chord. Time is the highwayman that steals our lives away and when a poem like this comes along it must be shared as widely as possible. It is attributed to the well-known poet, lyricist and film director Gulzar, but I’ve had those who know more about Urdu poetry and poets than I do tell me this isn’t so. I don’t know. Whoever wrote it, it is beautiful in its original:

Here is a romanised version of the Urdu:

Ahista chal zindagi, abhi kai karz chukana baaki hai.

Kuch dard mitana baaki hai, kuch farz nibhana baaki hai.

 Raftaar mein tere chalne se kuchh rooth gaye, kuch chhut gaye.

 Roothon ko manana baaki hai, roton ko hasana baki hai.

 Kuch hasraatein abhi adhuri hain, kuch kaam bhi aur zaruri hai.

 Khwahishen jo ghut gayi is dil mein, unko dafnana baki hai.

 Kuch rishte ban kar toot gaye, kuch judte-judte chhut gaye.

 Un tootte-chhutte rishton ke zakhmon ko mitana baki hai.

 Tu aage chal main aata hoon, kya chhod tujhe ji paunga?

 In saanson par haqq hai jinka, unko samjhaana baaki hai.

 Aahista chal zindagi, abhi kai karz chukana baki hai.

 

And here’s my attempt at translating it:

Slow down, Life, slow down; there’s so much more I have to do

Some hurts, still need to be assuaged, and some commitments too.

Walking at your pace, you see, some were rebuffed and some slipped by

Those I snubbed I must placate, make others laugh who once did cry.

Some desires I need to satisfy, some duties I have yet to do

Some wishes lie within this heart, these I must bury ‘ere we’re through.

Some friendships I have made and broken, some in the mending, cracked again

Those I’ve broken, battered, hurt; their wounds, I need to heal their pain.

You go ahead, Life, I’ll follow you, what will I gain by leaving you?

Those who have a right to my breath, they need an explanation too.

Slow down Life, slow down, there’s so much more that’s left to do.

Nothing

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So here’s another old, “dark” poem. It was written to inspire a story and then I never wrote the story!

nothing-2The silence had enveloped her

In its warm black anonymity

She was safe.

No rasping voice

No sound

Penetrated it

A gag order

On insanity.

A restraining order on life.

She buried deeper into it

A mole, escaping the light. Read the rest of this entry

Solitude

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Some poems take a lot more out of me to present to the public. This one was written more than thirty years ago. It lay among my papers, then I had to “de-clutter”, so I transferred, those I was somewhat partial to into soft copy versions. It was one of those pieces that I kept coming back to wondering if it was “naff” or okay. Finally last year, it was  published in Robin Barratt’s collection of prose and poetry titled Lonely. It’s also available on Amazon.

Robin approached me and asked if I wanted to write for his rather sad, but cathartic collection. Along came this poem and three others all written at roughly the same time.

I guess it’s time to share it here.

solitude

 

 

 

 

 

 

Such solitariness I have known

Total. Complete.

The satisfaction of being myself

And me alone.

The breezes were my playmates

The rains were made for me

Who else had I need for

And who had need for me?

 

But then a yearning filled me

Strange and hitherto

Alien to my soul.

A disturbing thrashing around of my spirit.

I searched

I called

I wept

To the unfeeling skies above me

Surely, somewhere

There was someone else like me!

This solitariness I too have known

That I live and die

Alone.

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Galapagalpeng

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A long time ago, when the Bahrain Writers’ Circle’s creative writing workshop was in its infancy and led by Ana Paula Corradini Boreland she set us an exercise to create a world based on an object. I happened to pick up a tiny little green rubber penguin.The following story was the result of that exercise.

Recently a friend, retired Col.Pavan Nair, shared his real-life experiences on expeditions to the Antarctic and this story came to mind. I hope he finds it amusing.

GALAPAGALPENG

The figurine is a green penguin no more than one and half centimetres in height. He has a yellow beak and feet, pink hat, black glasses, a notebook in his ‘hands’ – which are really more like a penguin’s flippers – and a pencil in his ear. Unlike penguins his body is all one colour – a bright leaf green. It’s hard to tell whether he is alive or an artefact collected by the famous Antarctic explorer Captain Richard Byrd, as some folk say they have on occasion seen the tiny creature’s eyes move.

In the late Captain’s log books we have discovered the following account of a strange land to be found somewhere in the coldest part of that ice-bound continent. Captain Byrd, who is said to have suffered carbon monoxide poisoning in his 1935 Antarctic exploration, states that that is the year he discovered a place called Galapagalpeng.

Here then is his account in his own words:

“I don’t know how long I was unconscious but when I opened my eyes I found I was in what appeared to be a large hall that seemed to be made completely of ice. The walls were deep glacial ice with pale green striations that were clear as crystal. There was a single light source in the centre of the hall from which emanated a blue-white glow that cast a bright enough light to illuminate the entire hall. It was also the single source of warmth, for when I looked down I realised I had been undressed and no longer had on my several layers of clothing, parka, fur-lined cap and snow goggles. Instead I was in my underwear and vest with my socks on, yet I was comfortably warm.

No sooner had I raised myself and sat up when a high pitched squeaking filled the air and hundreds of tiny green penguins appeared through what I realised were arched doorways that in my supine state I hadn’t noticed before. Some of the penguins had notebooks, others had tiny instruments and they all had on white coats. Then one, who was evidently their leader, stood in front of me and squeaked. I blinked at him and shook my head uncomprehending, as he was certainly addressing me. Then there was a twitter that filled the room very much like laughter. I grinned back. Clearly they were not menacing.

The leader bowed unmistakably at me and held out his flipper hand side up. Assuming that he wished me to do so too I did and he hopped onto my palm indicating that I should raise him so that he could touch my temple. I felt no sense of apprehension and obeyed, my curiosity at these tiny obviously intelligent creatures was more than piqued. I brought him in line with my temple and then to my surprise saw him puff himself up to almost fill my hand and reach out to touch my temple.

He then proceeded to squeak directly into my mind in various pitches until finally he clearly said in plain easily understood English, “Please nod if you understand me.”

I was so surprised I almost dropped him. But I nodded and soon all the other penguins came rushing forward and speaking directly to me in English albeit in highly pitched squeaky voices!

“How do you know…” I had barely said these words that boomed out loudly rattling the hall, and they all said “Shhhhh!”

The leading Galapagalpeng then said directly into my mind, “Our land cannot take loud sounds, please either whisper or just say the words in your mind, we are Galapagalpengs and can communicate mentally when we are in contact with your body, ideally with your temple. Our voices are pitched to not upset the sonic balance of our land. Yours sadly, isn’t.”

So this is what I have learnt about Galapagalpeng and its inhabitants the Galapagalpengs. The one thing I don’t have and which they wouldn’t divulge were the coordinates to mark the exact location of Galapagalpeng in the Antarctic and after enjoying their hospitality for the last six months – the southern hemisphere’s summer – I admit that I am happy I don’t know.

The people – Galapagalpengs: Most of the time they look like tiny green penguins and vary between 1.5 to 3 centimetres when in their native habitat. As adaptable life forms they have learnt to compress their physical molecules at will and do so according to the temperature outside and in order to use as little energy as possible.

Their legends or science claims that they are evolved from regular penguins and still possess their flippers and dense fur, but their feet have become thick yellow fat-encased appendages, as have their mouths or beaks. They have taken on the colour green to reflect the colour of the deep ocean that exists beneath their icy homeland and feel no need for clothes as their privates are well hidden from both the elements and other’s eyes. However, when puffed up to a manageable size they look very like regular Emperor Penguins including displaying the white front and black body, however, I believe they don’t show the yellow patch of fur that one sees on un-evolved penguins.

They eat raw plankton and have learnt, like the whales, to metabolise the plankton in their bodies to meet all their nutritional needs. They eat only when they are hungry which could be once in two or three days, for this all they need to do is visit one of their many subterranean accesses to the deep ocean waters that flow under the ice of their part of the South Pole and help themselves. The Galapagalpengs have never known hunger as such, since at times of natural calamities a single feeding can be made to last longer by shrinking their bodies down even further.

They communicate in what appear to human ears as high-pitched squeaks. Loud sounds can upset the balance of their homeland and crack the ice-mountains in which their cities and homes are built. By capturing radio and telephonic waves that flow past the South Pole, they have learnt almost all the languages of the world and can, if necessary communicate with humans telepathically merely by coming in contact with a part of the human body, but ideally directly via the human temple. They can also communicate telepathically with each other when they form a chain and are in direct contact with another Galapagalpeng.

The Galapagalpengs have learnt to split the water molecule and isolate the hydrogen atom for fission to release power and energy in a safe and controlled manner. This provides them with both light and heat, which are needed all year round. Something that I understand is just being developed in our world. They have done so in such a way as to be able to use a single atom of hydrogen to heat and light their homes; usually just two atoms per home are sufficient for several lifetimes. Atoms are split from the abundance of cold water available under the ice at the South Pole.

They are monogamous by nature usually having only two offspring per couple. These are usually one male and one female. It is looked down on by the society at large to have more as it is seen as a sign of selfishness. In the past when ecological upsets have threatened the balance of their homeland and several Galapagalpengs died, then as a patriotic gesture they have had more children. The female Galapagalpeng has a pregnancy that lasts six months through the darkness of their winter and then the young have enough time to grow during the six months of daylight. The normal lifecycle in human terms is twenty-five years. At the end of their designated lifetime an entire generation of Galapagalpengs wishes the next in line a farewell and then they proceed in an orderly manner to the shoreline. Here they compress themselves down to nothing more than what would appear to be a blob of greeny-brown muck and are washed away by the sea. The ceremony is referred to as “Entering the Sea.”

The young grow at an amazing rate reaching maturity in five human years. It is only at the end of their growing period that they are allowed to and indeed even express the desire to marry. Four intense years are spent learning to use the many instruments that the Galapagalpengs invent to read and decipher the radio waves that they catch from all the different countries around the world as they chatter through the stratosphere above the South Pole. They have learnt to translate all the gibberish and understand it in their economical squeaky language formally called “Galapagalpengalese” or for short “Pengali”.

Their homes: For housing the Galapagalpengs hollow out the ice and create large interconnected burrows each individual family’s home being closed off by a thin glacial sliver of ice. They are quite private so don’t normally rush into each other’s space unless invited. After the babies grow through their six-month infancy and childhood they are given individual spaces within the family home.

As a people they are very respectful of privacy and when they wish to communicate or socialise they merely touch the sliver of ice between their homes and a sound of a frequency undetected by human ear flows through the door. The host Galapagalpeng then melts it to invite the guest in. Large meetings are held in a vast ice hall and each community has at least one of these. The halls, as with most construction in Galapagalpeng, is built by expanding their body mass to determine a required size and employing a controlled beam of atomic energy to carve out the space. Since homes and the large community halls are constructed out of the ice the striations of clear green in the ice form a window as well as screens on which they beam several different programmes, mostly of an educational and informative nature.

Religion: As such they have no belief in an after-life or super power or god. They believe they all come from the elements of the ice and sea and eventually belong back to them. Their guide for morality is social acceptance.

Their Government: The Galapagalpengs do not have any political system. Leaders are chosen according to their expertise on any situation. For instance, on discovering me in a comatose state, they brought in their best biologist to determine what to do with me. She realised that I was warm blooded and mono-molecuvariable – meaning to say I was incapable of adjusting my molecular mass like them- and needed to be moved into a warm place. But when it came to questioning me their leading expert was a Male Inquisitor – meaning one who asks questions in a mild, non-threatening manner. And so on, to each the responsibility according to his or her expertise. There are rarely any disputes or quarrels as they realise that they are a most singular creation and each represents a part of the whole. Crime is unheard of; the extremely rare cases of a Galapagalpeng going against society is dealt with ostracism and the individual is encouraged by the group to annihilate him or her self and Enter the Sea.

Their entertainment & sports: There is one thing they acknowledge from the human race, with much delight, and that is the game of chess. They found a board many years ago washed up on their shores and were able to decipher the pieces and movements. They have created many different sizes of the game and have devised it to fit into their hand-held instruments wherein they may play against the instrument or another player who connects with the system. So, many tournaments and contests are held between communities and halls all in a good-natured spirit.

During their six-month long nights, besides having many entertainments for the females such as carnivals and parties with singing and dancing –as most of the females are carrying their young, the Galapagalpengs also have bouncing matches. In these the best ‘bouncers’ expand themselves to their full height and mass, which can be as large as an Emperor Penguin, and bounce against each other until one knocks the other down. The champion ‘bouncer’ of the year wins a crown of ice.

And here Captain Byrd’s description of Galapagalpeng ends. There is a footnote in his log:

“Just before the beginning of the Long Night, the Galapagalpengs helped me construct a boat built entirely of ice with a raft of rigid seaweed at the centre for the time when the ice would melt as I sailed further north. They were sure that I would find my own kind before the ice-boat melted. They had fed me on fish which some of them had brought from the shore and which I had requested to cook on the heat of an atomically heated plate. They also insisted that I eat seaweed as their biologists had analysed my spittle and decided that I could not get enough nutrients from my own body. And as a farewell they gave me a goodly quantity of this cooked fish and seaweed supplements.

I had made friends with the Inquisitor’s assistant Mr. Weeke a young new graduate who was my constant companion and who wore a pink hat and always carried what appeared to be a notebook in which he inserted tiny dots and dashes. He wished to come with me, and after much discussion with the elders they decided that he could be spared in the full knowledge that he may never return. He has been a wonderful companion these many years and has never given me any trouble. He is able to sit still and observe all around him without appearing to move, so much so that visitors seem to think he is an artefact. He has also learnt to eat tiny quantities of fresh uncooked fish, preferring sardines or tuna with only sea brine to salt it.

I pray that some day he will find his way back to Galapagalpeng.”

Vengeance Wears Black…

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41ztQAFKyyL._SX323_BO1,204,203,200_…And poor time management goes around in rags, tattered in the attention that a book as action-packed as this one rightfully deserves.

In spite of all the swirling minutiae of daily commitments – from an event in the offing, to freelance work, household chores, to inane queries with regard to said event – I couldn’t pull myself away from Seumas Gallacher’s Vengeance Wears Black and yet I constantly had to; dangling participles notwithstanding.

The book haunts one through its deft handling of the personal interplay and commitment of the main characters to each other – all partners in ISP International Security Partners. These include our hero Jack Calder and May Ling his wife – and the team Mr. Brains Jules Townsend and Malky McGuire: friend and colleague.

The bloody explosive action kicks off and kicks one in the stomach right from the get-go. I wonder if this is a typical Seumas Gallacher opener – having read the Violin Man’s Legacy a little over a year ago. The opening scene in that earlier book is a real stomach-churner.

Vengeance Wears Black starts with a tense human trafficking operation in Krakow that goes horribly wrong. It then leaps across to London where another eruptive incident brings our main players together. This time a Gurkha colleague smothers a grenade with his body thus saving his friends from ISP – a band of tough action-hardened SAS men and one woman; who then carry out a carefully planned, meticulous operation that not only quells the violent turf wars raging between Asian triad gangs and Eastern European mobsters, but also avenges the death of the man who saved their lives.

Seumas Gallacher’s book takes the reader on a nail-biting ride from east to west, from unimaginable debauchery and corruption to uplifting moments of friendship and care. I, for one, was glad of these little hiatuses in the action as they allowed me to get to know the main players, become involved in their fates, and follow the detailed planning that goes into such a far reaching operation.

This isn’t a genre I usually read, so I was surprised by how much I was drawn into it. I had read the earlier book so I knew the background of the characters but, being a stand-alone novel, it is not necessary to read it to follow the action or the connections.

These books would make a superb movie or TV series and I’m sure one of these days someone is going to discover them. Then we’ll see Mr. Gallacher’s name in lights, with our hero Jack Calder blazoned across the posters a la Jason Bourne/Matt Damon.