The lovely people at Real Readers sent me this pre-publication proof copy of J. Paul Henderson’s ‘The Last of the Bowmans’ – in return for an honest ‘real review’. Which now follows.
I’ve never heard of the author before and on first sight (I’m a definite cover girl) looks presactly like the kind of book I like. The blurb reads:
“After an absence of some seven years, Greg Bowman returns from America to find his father lying in a bamboo coffin, his estranged brother Billy stalking a woman with no feet and his seventy-nine year old Uncle Frank planning to rob a bank. While renovating the family house he is unexpectedly visited by the presence of his dead father and charged with the task of ‘fixing’ the family. In the course of his reluctant investigations, Greg discovers not only the secrets behind the strange behaviour of his brother and uncle but also an unsettling secret of his father’s, and one that brings him face to face with the unintended consequences of his own past.”
This read like a mash-up of Last of the Summer Wine and ‘The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry’. It had quirky characters, odd situations, splintered and unspoken pasts with unresolved family issues, and surprising little glimpses into characters that by dint of their ages, have much to be secretive about.
I got very excited when Greg’s dead father returned wearing one of his late wife’s dresses and thought ‘excellent, this is going to be crazy’ – but the madness stopped there, sadly, and I think this could have been developed more.
I liked it well enough, but (perhaps because it was so male-orientated? I’m not sure. My favourite book is ‘High Fidelity’ and that couldn’t be a more masculine read) it didn’t warm or charm me, and some of the characters and situations I felt a little contrived for the sake of getting some more chortles in.
6/10 a nice, chuckly read, ‘The Last of the Bowmans’ is published by noexit press, an imprint of Oldcastle Books and released January 2016.