I am delighted to be on the blog tour today for Smile of the Stowaway by Tony Bassett. Many thanks to Rachel from Rachel’s Random Resources for including me on the tour, and for the copy of the book, which I have reviewed as a reader, honestly, individually, and impartially.
A married couple, a stranger from far away and a murder that rocks their lives. Desperate to reach England, a bedraggled immigrant clings precariously beneath a couple’s motor home as they cross the Channel. Once holidaymakers Bob and Anne overcome their shock at his discovery and their initial reservations, they welcome the friendly stranger into their home in defiance of the law. But their trust is stretched to the limit when the police accuse the smiling twenty-three-year-old of a gruesome murder. Could this man from six thousand miles away be guilty? Or is the real killer still out there? Former national newspaper journalist Tony Bassett tells how Anne turns detective, battling against a mountain of circumstantial evidence and police bungling to discover the truth. This gripping first novel concerning a death in a remote Kentish country cottage is packed with mystery, suspense and occasional touches of humour.
Imagine travelling back from a trip abroad in your motorhome, ignorant of the fact that a desperate stranger has boarded the underside of your vehicle, only finding out when you pull on to your driveway, and he drops to the ground, ready to run. Would you call the authorities immediately, or might you take pity on an exhausted human being who has undertaken a hellish journey in order to reach a safe country which he hopes to make his home? This is the precise dilemma that suburban couple Bob and Anne face in Smile of the Stowaway, the first crime novel written by ex-Fleet Street journalist Tony Bassett.
The choice they make places the Eritrean illegal immigrant, Yusuf, as a new fixture in their lives, and one who they come to regard with concern and affection. When Yusuf is able to take up a job locally, due to the deniability of the way he has arrived, and his being in possession of a passport, all appears to be going very well.
Then, there is a brutal murder, and the shadow of suspicion falls upon the stowaway with the beautiful smile. Anne is convinced that Yusuf is innocent, and goes on a one-woman mission with her husband Bill (through whom this story is recounted) in tow, to prove it.
Yet, will her faith be misplaced, and is Yusuf really the genial, kind and hardworking man he appears to be?
Some of the problems encountered in this book seemed to me to have solutions which were a little too quickly resolved. I felt that the writing would have benefited from fewer descriptions of some minor points, and greater complexity in other areas, particularly with regard to police procedure and legal process. As a layperson, I would have liked to have understood these things better within the context of this as a crime novel, and this subject, which I found very interesting. I am glad that the author chose to tackle illegal immigration from the perspective he did.
The plot moves forward quickly, and the author is at his most comfortable when he is writing about the private investigation process that his amateur sleuth, Anne, undertakes (although I did have to suspend disbelief on occasion!). I’m sure that this must in no small part be attributable to his extensive journalistic experience.
The book uproots the typical negative tabloid story we used to be confronted with on a regular basis concerning illegal immigrants, and makes our perspective focus on the individual rather than the headline. This is more in keeping with the new, more compassionate style of journalism which appears to be turning the tide against the people traffickers, and eliciting our sympathy for those seeking safe harbour, often failing so tragically.
The author uses his main characters to demonstrate the value of friendship and compassion to those who risk everything to reach a safe place, but also lets the plot unfold in such a way that the complex issues faced by illegal immigrants are exposed.
To take part in an exciting giveaway…
Giveaway to Win 6 x PB copies of Smile of the Stowaway (Open INT)
*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome. Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data. I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.
About the author:
Tony Bassett, who was born in West Kent, grew up wanting to be a writer from the age of nine when he edited a school magazine.
After attending Hull University where he won a `Time-Life’ magazine student journalism award, he spent six years working as a journalist in Sidcup, Worcester and Cardiff before moving to Fleet Street.
Tony spent 37 years working for the national press, mainly for the `Sunday People’ where he worked both for the newsdesk and the investigations department.
He helped cover the Jeremy Thorpe trial for the `Evening Standard’, broke the news in the `Sun’ of Bill Wyman’s plans to marry Mandy Smith and found evidence for the `Sunday People’ of Rod Stewart’s secret love child.
On one occasion, while working for `The People’, he took an escaped gangster back to prison. His first book, `Smile Of The Stowaway’, is one of four crime novels Tony has written over the past three years.
He has five grown-up children and eleven grandchildren. He lives in South East London with his partner, Lin.
To connect with Tony, please follow the social media links below: