Marlowe has been a published author since 2006 and before that served with the Royal Air Force, the police, the diplomatic service, worked as a newspaper columnist and has done voluntary service with Victim and Witness Support in the UK.
While the author has brought elements of his previous experience into most of his works, it is interesting that his most successful stories (Settled out of Court, Leaving Mercy to Heaven and A Kind of Wild Justice) have dealt squarely with the themes of revenge and retribution, which begs the question as to whether perhaps Marlowe’s experiences with the victims of crime was the aspect of his working life that left the biggest impression on him?
No matter, Marlowe’s style is riveting, he’s a natural-born story teller, and his latest, Unfriendly Fire, has both the revenge element and the military setting with which he clearly feels most at ease.
And, thankfully, there has been a noticeable improvement in Marlowe’s use of dialogue, his terse, tense tale of career soldier Jack Drake, a courageous and disciplined fighting man who nevertheless also has a vengeful side to him and is relentlessly pursuing his own father who deserted his mother, has benefited hugely from the writer’s ability to make his characters more credible this time around.
The only real criticism I made of Marlowe’s previous work was that of his language reading as just a little too gentrified, of being stuck in a 1940s time-warp which, while it may have been suitable for a work such as Memoirs of an Errant Youth, which was the writer’s first, nevertheless seemed distinctly at odds with the gritty edge of A Kind of Wild Justice, for example.
No such problems this time around, when his characters talk this time, you can hear the ring of truth to the dialogue which, while still frequently delivered in the clipped, reserved tones that one would associate with the armed forces, serves to deliver far more information about Jack, his colleagues and, later, ‘Rowdy’ (the only name he has for his errant father) than merely moving the narrative forward.
It’s good to see that riveting storytelling has not yet died as an art form, this is a cracking read, so power to your elbow, Mr Marlowe.