Books of 2011 # 12 – Concrete Pearl by Vincent Zandri

This was a tough choice for this not to make it into the top 10, as it is a cracking good read, but others just have the edge on it.

Concrete PearlConcrete Pearl by Vincent Zandri
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Vincent Zandri is one hell of a writer. He’s the author of other thrillers such as The Innocent, Godchild and The Remains (my review of The Remains is here), but Vincent scares me, he makes me wonder where he gets his inspiration, if it’s as true to life as it seems; I’m worried!

Concrete Pearl twists and shocks from the first page to the last. The main character, Ava “Spike” Harrison, she got her name from impaling her foot on a six-penny nail on the first construction site she worked on, is about to have a very bad day.

She’s the boss of Harrison Construction, the company that was originally her beloved fathers, and now Spike’s the boss. She’s a tough, no nonsense character who will never give up, never roll-over. Harrison Construction already has a number of health and safety convictions, accidents that weren’t Spike’s fault but corporately the company takes the hit. Today it’s going to get a lot worse. Today asbestos is going to be found on the current work site. That work site’s a school. Worse; that work site is a school that still has children in it while the work carries on around them. Asbestos contamination might equal sick kids. Cancer. Dead. Kids.

The authorities shut the site down, Spike’s company is under suspicion of negligence, but Spike’s company sub-contracted the asbestos removal and now the removal company and the lab that verified their test results, have shut-down, they’ve vanished. Spike needs to find them and settle what’s happened and clear her name.

The characters are lifelike and believable, some are so believable that you’ll hate them, want to take them out yourself. You’ll feel for others, want to help them. All the characters make this book the more believable page, after page, to the last page.

Zandri winds the plot tighter and tighter, he squeezes his lead character to incredible levels. You wonder if she will ever sort out her problems as with each page a new issue raises its ugly head. As accusations of negligence move to accusations of murder, the author redefines the term “thriller”.

As you think Spike is buried deep, Zandri turns the plot in her favour, revelation follows revelation. You start to wonder just who you can trust. Is anyone innocent? Some are. Zandri manages to tie up a plot and leave the reader very satisfied. What happens to Spike? Well you’ll just have to read the book and find out for yourself.

At the start of this review, I questioned the author’s inspiration, why? Well simply because I did a little reading around, his blog, other reviews before I read this book. Vincent Zandri appears to borrow from his own life as part of his books. A character in the books’ son is born on Halloween, I understand that Zandri’s son is too, and Spike’s family name, Zandris son’s name. So then what is it that Vincent Zandri knows about the construction industry, it’s claimed that this a fictional story based on real events?

Whether this is true or not it doesn’t really matter, because Zandri is one hell of an author, and although he is well published and sells books, he’s probably not the household name of the likes of Patterson or Brown; Clancy or Child; but he deserves to be. Zandri deserves to be the author I see in the window of Waterstones as I walk down the high street; to be in the 3 for 2’s. The one that everyone is talking about, the one that is on bigger blogs than mine. That’s what he deserves, I hope he gets it, but either way I’m buying his next book, and probably the one after that. It’s rare to find an author that you want to read book after book, but Vincent Zandri is in that league.

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