Flank Street by A. J. Sendall

Published: 15th May 2015Goodreads badge
Publisher:
 Ascend Digital Publications
Pages: 310
Format: Ebook
Genre: Crime Thriller
★   ★   ★   ★  – 4 Stars

Flank Street is set in Australia, mainly in Sydney’s Kings Cross. It’s written in first person from the distorted reality of Micky DeWitt, a shiftless career criminal and world sailor.

Micky arrives in Sydney by boat, broke and on the lookout for opportunity. After taking a job as barman in a Kings Cross pub, he’s eventually approached by a high-end escort who needs something stolen.

Nothing is what it seems, as Micky falls into a honey trap that spins his life out of control.
Some characters from Heather make an appearance, including Mitchell, and the enigmatic Ray Peterson.

Note: I was provided with a copy of this book from the author for review.

This is the second book in the Sydney Underworld series and takes place before the events set in Heather but remains connected to the life at Kings Cross and includes many familiar faces. It was interesting to read about what the Cross was like before Loretto Reed took over and where certain characters started out, and knowing how the story pans out it was great to see little clues and references scattered throughout. Reading this also made me realise I had made assumptions in Heather which I hadn’t noticed, and having read Heather it made this a better read as well because there was a deeper understanding of even minor characters.

Told from a first-person perspective Flank Street focuses on Micky, a guy with a mysterious past who turns up to Sydney on his boat with the intention of getting involved with the underbelly of Sydney life. I liked Micky’s no-nonsense approach, he knew what he wanted and he went out and got it. His history is not really known and while he makes passing references to where he has been, there is still not a lot known about him. While I would love to know more about Micky’s history it isn’t important to the story and it also made him fit in well with his new life, someone with secrets, a vague past, with a certain set of skills.

It’s hard not to see similarities between Heather and Sam from the first book and Micky and Carol in this one, but at the same time they are also totally separate as well. While Sam enters the Kings Cross life after being convinced by another and with a mission to achieve, Micky chooses it because it is a world where he is comfortable and a place where he is looking to get in with a particular type of people and seeing where that road leads him.

Having only heard about Carol in snippets previously it was easy to see her as a victim, but getting to know her makes you realise she isn’t the nicest person, nor is she that innocent. From early on Carol got little sympathy for me, she was manipulative and selfish and it appears she has secrets of her own. Her association with Micky was curious, never quite trusting one another and both trying to get something from the other. Micky isn’t a fool, he is smart and he is wary but he does get talked into things. Even after telling himself she is not to be trusted that she is playing him, he still goes along with her ideas, against his gut instinct.

I loved getting back into the gritty Underworld of Sydney, albeit from a different angle. Sendall captures the atmosphere of that life and the control one person can have over a place but doesn’t make it too over the top, unrealistic, or even overly dramatic. The hidden threat and the secret agenda of nearly everyone involved means that everyone can be hiding something and not really knowing what people are thinking or are capable of makes for an enthralling read.

Much like Heather this story is one of boats, the underworld, and an outsider looking for a way in, but Sendall makes it much more than that. He has managed to create an elaborate story with intricate connections and complex and mysterious characters that all come together in an engaging and clever read. Flank Street is a wonderful continuation of the series and with a conclusion that boggles your mind and makes you rethink everything you have read Sendall makes sure to uphold your interest and eagerness for the next book in the series.

You can purchase Flank Street via the following

Amazon.co.uk | Amazon.com | Amazon.com.au

Barnes & Noble | Createspace

Heather: A Story of Sydney’s Underworld by A. J. Sendall

Published: 21st August 2014Goodreads badge
Publisher:
 Ascend Digital Publications
Pages: 449
Format: Ebook
Genre: Crime Thriller
★   ★   ★   ★   ★  – 5 Stars

When ageing escort Heather Todd rescues a stranger riding a wild self-destructive spiral, she discovers she has a chance to avenge the death of her sister, and many others. She taunts and cajoles the reluctant Sam into helping her gather evidence against the notorious Reed brothers.
When Sam agrees to join her, they embark on a daring, high-risk venture that takes them deep into the underworld, and then half-way around the world and almost home again …

Heather is a story about how people are changed by circumstance and pressure; both external and internal. And how when released from that pressure, some are able to become their true selves.

Note: I was provided with a copy of this book from the author for review.

Sendall has developed and executed this story brilliantly, with style and surprise. From the intriguing prologue to the gripping final pages it’s a story that’s clever, captivating and at times heartbreaking. The narrative is exciting and suspenseful, even when nothing much is happening plot wise, meaning you are never sure what is going to happen, and while you often cannot condone what these characters do, they draw you in and intrigue you all the same.

The characters are certainly interesting, and they’re presented in a way that shows just how complex they are which makes them real, meaning even the bad guys got a lot of compassion and sympathy from me as I read. With characters so complicated makes for a great mixture of people working and clashing with one another and adds another level to the story.

Sam and Heather are from completely different worlds and seeing them get to know one another is interesting in itself. Despite their past lives they come together for a single goal and as their relationship develops they end up working quite well together. This goal seems quite unexpected but it isn’t too fanciful either, especially coming from Heather, if it has been Sam then I think it would not have been as understandable.

Sam is a straightforward character; he goes into undercover stealth mode quite quickly, his past career training kicking in most likely. He knows what needs to be done and he is methodical and callous from the start, planning it all out and eager to help make Heather’s idea a reality. He does show some uncertainty and moral debate, but he is also violent at times which was a curious contrast.

Heather is curious because while she seems timid and unsure of herself, infiltrating the underworld was her idea and she plays key roles in their plan just as much as Sam does. In a way you want her to make it more than Sam, hers is a more tragic story than his and you want her to succeed in getting herself a better life. She fights her fears more often than not and seeing her grow is really wonderful.

The story is told via multiple points of view, from both sides, which provides depth and meaning to the story. With Heather and Sam it allows a chance to sense their apprehension and thoughts about their plans, but with the added points of view of Reed and his men it adds extra intrigue to the story, certainly more insight, and a feeling of completeness to the entire story.

The time frame is realistic, taking place across multiple months, though it doesn’t read as slow nor does it drag out and it demonstrates the gradual build up and infiltration Heather and Sam are trying to achieve. While it is possible to see Sam and Heather’s plan as unbelievable and unachievable since they are seemingly just regular people, it still works. Heather was already connected to the Reeds in a small but real way and Sam has the skill set to get himself inside convincingly and realistically.

The simmering suspense and anticipation makes it a great read and one where anything is possible. You want Sam and Heather’s to achieve their goals but at the same time you are fully aware that anything could go wrong and ruin everything. Even up until the final pages when everything comes to a head Sendall makes sure you have no idea exactly what will happen and brings your anticipation to the max.

 This is a five star book not because it is mind blowing amazing and filled with action all the time, but rather because it is clever, and Sendall has built up this story remarkably well and concludes it perfectly in a way that is suitable and agreeable, but also a little bit heartbreaking.

You can purchase Heather via the following

Amazon.co.uk | Amazon.com | Amazon.com.au

Barnes & Noble | Createspace | Flipkart