Friday, 17 July 2009

Readers' Comments

Here is a selection of genuine comments from genuine readers.
I do not personally know any of the reviewers.
They are all genuine comments and only lightly edited.
I've only corrected spelling and typos where necessary and clipped out sections which either refer to technical problems in the writing which have subsequently been fixed, or which gave away too much of the story, and thus spoil your enjoyment of After Goya.

"All the elements are here, Haarlson, and you reveal and assemble them with skill and ingenuity. You are clearly an old hand and write confidently, persuasively and fluently. You have given us a fast-moving and intriguing ‘quest’ story with exotic locations. What more could we ask? Let me know when the film is released."

"I enjoyed particularly the attention to detail and also the dialogue in the opening chapters. It gave a solid feel to both the story and the characters. You have obviously researched your subject well - although you were a litle unfair to Madrid I thought - I adore the city! Once we got onto the main plot with Cotelo I thought it flew along and was technically flawless. I was drawn into the story ..."

" ... a gripping story. It is very well-written and evokes the scene in Spain very well."

" ... like something Greg Isles or Peter James would write and I think this is a very captivating story with interesting characters ... it works very well. The settings are interesting and you seem to know a lot about Spain and Spanish customs/food etc.
All in all an entertaining read ..."

"Liked the pace of this piece and the themes and ideas. I think the pace is cracking ... All interesting stuff though and a highly enjoyable read."

"A fast, pacy read which had me eager to read on. The plot and characters moved forward well ... You clearly show you know your subject matter."

"Hi Haarlson, I was delighted to be assigned this piece [first five chapters]. I thought I'd enjoy something that combines the thriller genre and the art world, and I did. You have a particularly keen sense of place, which brought the settings to life. Your characters are promising and you have thrown in enough hints of back story to suggest that there are plenty of depths to mine. All in all, a cracking read."

"I have to admit that this is not the sort of thing I usually read but nonetheless I found it engaging and very well described as well as written. The language and dialogue fitted the story perfectly and the characters and settings were believable and even tangible. It flowed very well too although the odd sentence did seem a bit abrupt and short; however, this did not detract from the story. If anything it made it better, particularly in the beginning where it gave the plot a snappy pace. It maintained a believable and constant pace throughout. I'll say it again, although not my favourite sort of literature, I found this thoroughly enjoyable."

"Hi Haarlson, this was a great read. Well drawn and observed characters and locations. The story has a strong sense of movement which carries the reader along without being encumbered by too much detail and expostion. Where needed the exposition is well handled ... You have a literate but easy style ... In parts the extract is very cinematic - some would see this as a problem but not this reader. There are some wonderful moments ... the extract left me wanting to know more."

"This story has a fast-paced plot, well drawn characters, strong imagery and a good bit of tension to carry the reader along. The characters were believable and their motivations seemed genuine ... Overall, an intriguing and enjoyable read."

"This is excellent, an intelligent thriller nicely handled. Your description of Madrid was punchy, funny and spot on, your revelation through dialogue of the Englishman's past was very well done. As for criticism? Well, I love the spared style, right up my street, but the wealth of characters in the early pages did require some concentration. Otherwise, very well done. Congratulations."

"Haarlson, you're a bastard. I stayed up all night to read all 300 odd pages. I could not put it down. It really was that good. That's why I was nearly an hour late to work this morning. If a publisher doesn't pick this up then I'll know for sure there's no justice in this world."

"The story grips from the start and the jump from past to present works well. The level of detail is good and builds pictures and the description of Madrid I thought was particularly evocative and gave me a real sense of the place - both physically and of its people.
Characterisation is good and solid and the pace (mostly) moves well ...
Although crime thrillers are not really my thing, I enjoyed this story and think those who do enjoy a good thriller won't be disappointed."

"I thought this was very well done. Interesting cast of characters, lots of local color, a plot that zips along. A lot of jumping back and forth and characters to keep track of, but I guess that's the way of thrillers. Your writing is most accomplished ... The low-key style, by not calling attention to itself, permits the cogs of the story to turn efficiently."

"I would buy this book. Personally, this novel is interesting to me because it takes place in cities and regions I know: the Costa del Sol, Madrid. I know about art, and the Spanish Civil War, and, having lived in Eastern Europe, understand the Russians. The story was much better than I expected . . . the plot was sophisticated. The dialogue is realistic. The characters are compelling. I want to read more ... I am really impressed . . . and I read a lot."

"This begins with a lot of action and description, and you obviously know your subject well.
You ... appear to know the places you describe personally. This has been well proof read, and there are no corrections worthy of mentioning. You write well, about a subject you clearly know a great deal about, and bring a lot of pace into your tale."

"First of all I must say that I rarely read action or thriller type stories but I really enjoyed this - I loved the pace of it. There was plenty of action, and the opener especially wasn't too over the top. Frequently writers make the mistake of having something too dramatic happen in the opening sequence, thus losing the attention of the reader as the story progresses. However here, I feel you have the balance just about right. You write confidently with attention to detail - punctuation, dialogue, narrative flows well and your grammar is good. Well done, I wish I could suggest a few improvements but I thoroughly enjoyed reading this. I would definitely be interested in buying this!"

"I found this very enjoyable. I can see that you are putting together an engaging story. You launch the reader into a roller coaster of a bombing raid with poor Otto rattling around the plane before taking us into the rubble produced by the bombing. I thought it was a great start.
I enjoyed the switch to modern times ... I liked the way he [one of the principal characters] is determined to prove himself, and I loved the scene when the hotel receptionist arrived. You paint a wonderful picture of her. I thought the dialogue was pretty good throughout.
Lastly, only once did I question the accuracy of your information on Spain (where I live).
All in all, for me, a very good book in the making. Good setting … carefully thought out structure … a variety of characters … an innocent girl, a has-been English art expert and an ambitious policeman are all heading for Madrid … a sinister Russian behind it all …the makings are all there for a gripping tale."

"This is a very intriguing story with many plot throughlines. The characters are gritty and real and, although foreign, they can be related with. Good writing that overcomes language barriers. Your description is detailed and vivid, and you paint good images with your narrative. If I had the entire manuscript I would read on. Well done!"

"This is a great story and I feel there is a lot of potential for it to become a page turning thriller. The characters were well defined, well created and each was very disitinct. They were believable and immediately became very real in my head, which to me is a sign of creating a good strong character. I thought the storyline and pace were good, and didn't feel any lulls in the plot. It was intriguing and I felt compelled to read on. The style you write in I feel complements the genre you have chosen very well.
... I was very impressed at the level of knowledge displayed in the historical parts. If the writer is comfortable with a subject it always shows, as it did here. Altogether I thought these were very good and extremely well written chapters."

"I found your book to be excellent ... I enjoyed the story, the characters were interesting and the pace was great. I was compelled to read on and if it is available to buy, once I have finished my current title I think I will buy a copy! You have clearly spent a lot of time on research and the story is richer because of it. I liked Cotelo as a character and assume he is the main protagonist, lots of scope for more books with him I am sure. The dialogue was clean and snappy and felt very natural. Anyway, I really liked it, it felt a bit like The DaVinci Code or The Thirteenth Gospel, that sort of genre. If the rest of the book is this good, it deserves to be published ..."

"An exciting and intriguing thriller with such an involved plot! All the same, a cracking tale. Cotelo is really well characterised with all the descriptions of his passive style of information gathering, almost a Spanish Maigret.
... a really good read. Has all the makings of a page turner, Haarlson. Nice one."

"I don't know who wrote this, but whoever he or she is, I'd want, one day, to sit myself at a bar in Madrid and have them tell me stories all night long."

And, perhaps, I've kept the best one back 'til last:

"Phenomenal. Like Graham Greene, but more punchy."

Phew! I'm embarrassed, though really pleased that readers do seem to genuinely enjoy the novel.

I think it's important to know that all the above reviews were written by reviewers who did not know, prior to writing their review, what other reviewers had written.

Of course I've had a few (three in total, out of 65) reviews which were less than fulsome, but even those grudgingly admitted to the overall excellence of the writing.

Want to know what all the praise is about? Well, go here, click through to the Buy It Soon page, (or send me a message via the Contact page), leave your address and I'll let you know when After Goya is available.

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