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Black Hatted Cowboys - Bryan Marlowe
 

 

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Black Hatted Cowboys
by Bryan Marlowe 

UK price: £12.50     US price $14.50
Format: Paperback
Pages: 224
ISBN-10: 1909304689
ISBN-13: 978-1909304680
Size: 20.3 x 12.7 x 1.3 cm
Published: Nov 2012

The building and repair work carried out by dangerously incompetent and unscrupulous builders, often known as “cowboys,” is widely reported in newspapers and investigations into their nefarious activities make popular and thought-provoking television documentaries. This publicity helps to warn the unwary of the misery, unjustifiable costs and even death that can result by employing unskilled building workers to carry out improvements and, often-unnecessary, repairs to their homes. The cowboy builder will always ask for “cash-up-front” before he starts to work. Later, he will ask for more cash, because he “underestimated the work and material needed to finish the job”. If the householder is unable or unwilling to part with more money, the cowboy will leave the property in such a state that it is an unsafe dwelling. This is the story of two men who take deadly retributive action against cowboy builders.

About the author

Bryan Marlowe was born in the City of London in 1930. He left school at the age of 14 and had innumerable jobs before being called up for National Service in the Royal Air Force from 1948/50. He rejoined the RAF in1951 and retired in 1971. He worked for twenty years with a Northern Police Force. On retirement he took up voluntary work with Witness and Victim Support, co-ordinated Neighbourhood Watch schemes and worked as a newspaper columnist. He has travelled extensively and lived abroad. He now lives in southeast London.

Review of Black Hatted Cowboys

By Bryan Marlowe

By James Drew

Bryan Marlowe has now been a published author since 2006 and, in the nine novels he has written, it’s fair to say that he has covered a wide range of literary themes, many of which have taken their direct inspiration from his own life, such as Memoirs of an Errant Youth and As Long as There’s Tomorrow, but there is no doubt that the most recurrent motif in his fiction has been that of vengeance, and the tragedy that its pursuit may often bring.

Settled Out of Court and A Kind of Wild Justice were two such novels, featuring central characters whose vendettas, while justifiable in the context of the wrongs they had suffered, nevertheless exacted a high price in terms of what they required to bring them to a ‘successful’ conclusion.

And in his tenth and latest, Black Hatted Cowboys, Marlowe has given a pleasing, modern twist to a similar theme, setting it among so-called cowboy builders, those unscrupulous workers who carry out frequently incompetent and often unnecessary work in homes, demanding cash in advance and further installments as the work progresses, before often leaving their work incomplete if the customers are unable or unwilling to pay more.

Such is often the poor quality of the work completed that the residences in question are left unsafe and, as is the case as we join Laurence Howard in the novel, even deadly – Howard is informed by police at the outset of the novel that his mother and father have been killed and his sister seriously injured in an explosion at their home, caused by a gas leak; his father had, against Howard’s advice, chosen a unqualified builder to replace his gas boiler. A long-serving soldier, Howard decides to investigate the author of his pain further, which brings him into the orbit of one Gary Bottrell, who has also suffered at the hands of cowboys. Bottrell has his own plans for revenge, wants to involve Howard, and he is not an easy man to turn down…

Thus, we have the vendetta premise established, but where Marlowe’s novel differs from the predecessors of his ilk is its deliberate setting in an environment that will be (perhaps also painfully) familiar to many readers and, let’s face it, he couldn’t have chosen much better in making his ‘villains’ cowboy builders. However, his skill in delineating the extent to which Howard and Bottrell are prepared to go in pursuing their vendetta ensures that there is nevertheless a real sense of shifting readers’ sympathies.

There is also a belter of an ending that will play more than fast-and-loose with your expectations and, as has thankfully been the case with Marlowe’s more recent novels, his characterizations have far more of the ring of truth to them than was the case with his earlier thrillers. He is clearly still very much enjoying his own learning curve as an author, and Black Hatted Cowboys proves his willingness to experiment with his established form. One wonders, given the text’s obvious reference to Alfred Hitchcock’s Strangers on a Train, whether we can look forward to more thrillers after the fashion of the master of suspense from Marlowe? Here’s hoping.

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Also by Bryan Marlowe:

Recalled to Arms
by Bryan Marlowe 
 

UK price:  £6.99     US price: $9.79
Publisher:
DIADEM BOOKS
Format: Paperback
Pages: 258
ISBN-10: 1908026421
ISBN-13: 978-1908026422
Published: Feb 2012

Readers of Leaving Mercy to Heaven, which introduced Eli (Mac) Murray, an embittered ex-SAS captain and Sarah Shahar, an Israeli Army captain, who joined forces to fight a fanatical terrorist group, in North Africa and the Middle East, might be interested to learn that they are bent on action again.. They are now married, but find they cannot settle down to a humdrum life and are ready and eager to answer a call to arms. This time they are engaged by a powerful British media magnate to take on the task of rescuing his son (a foreign correspondent) and his daughter-in-law, who have been arrested and imprisoned by the Syrian Secret Security Service. Their mission takes them, incognito, to turbulent Syria, where President Bashar al-Assad's tyrannical government is engaged in brutally subduing the dissident populace, who are demonstrating and dying in their attempt to overthrow him and replace his government. As you might expect, the action is very strong, with Mac and Sarah giving covert, but no holds barred, support to the rebels in exchange for their help in freeing the newspaperman and his wife.


Unfriendly Fire
by Bryan Marlowe 
 

UK price: £6.99       US price: $9.79
Publisher:
DIADEM BOOKS
Format: Paperback
Pages: 254
ISBN: 978-1908026187
Published: July 2011

Jack Drake is highly disciplined, skilled in all aspects of his job and courageous; an ideal career soldier who is well regarded by his superiors and singled out for early promotion. But there is a dark side to Drake's character - he wants to track down his father, known only to him as a soldier called 'Rowdy,' and exact revenge on him for deserting his mother. The story moves dramatically between the lives of Jack and the soldier called Rowdy. Jack's relentless pursuit of Rowdy takes him to war-torn Iraq and to Afghanistan where they have their final confrontation, while fighting for their lives against a large force of merciless Taliban warriors. Unfriendly Fire is a family saga spanning over sixty years and involves betrayal, blackmail, bravery, loyalty, love, romance and revenge.


As Long as There's Tomorrow...
By Bryan Marlowe       
 
UK price: £11.77     US price: $21.95
Format: Paperback
Size : 5 x 8
Pages: 394
ISBN: 0-595-39621-6
Published: May-2006

A romantic saga dedicated to those who have lost the love of their life and live in hope of one day regaining it.


Tarnished Heroes       
by Bryan Marlowe 

UK price: £8.38     US price: $15.95
Format: Paperback
Size : 5 x 8
Pages: 228
ISBN: 0-595-40750-1
Published: Aug-2006

It's the cold war in the Far East and a chain of deadly circumstances forces two former world war heroes to form an alliance to save those they love in a final desperate act of heroism and redemption.


A Kind of Wild Justice.
by Bryan Marlowe        
UK price: £8.63    US price: $16.95
Format: Paperback
Size: 5 x 8
Pages: 242
ISBN: 0-595-43194-1
Published: Mar-2007

Be warned; don’t be fooled by Gary Remington’s gentlemanly demeanour. He’s a tough, war-hardened ex-sergeant major, who exercises unremitting relentlessness in whatever he undertakes. He’s now on a mission of merciless vengeance and he’ll take no prisoners!


Settled Out of Court      
by Bryan Marlowe 
UK price: £8.00     US price: $14.95
Format: Paperback
Size: 5 x 8
Pages: 204
ISBN: 0-595-47705-4
Published: Nov-2007

Tense, gripping and with a rich seam of black humour, Settled Out Of Court is the latest thriller from Bryan Marlowe—a man with a literary mission of his own.


Leaving Mercy to Heaven  
by Bryan Marlowe 
UK price: £7.99     US price: $10.85
Format: Paperback
Size: 5 x 8
Pages: 288
ISBN: 978-0956051967
Published: Feb-2009
Published by
SPIDERWIZE

 

Leaving Mercy to Heaven is a bang-up-to-date, dramatic action-packed tale of revenge, intrigue, betrayal, and romance, involving terrorism, modern Casablanca, and the Israeli Secret Service

 


Marlowe's Manuscripts

(From Up Front)

James Drew takes a trip down memory lane, with a shameless plug for his one-time journalist-cohort turned published novelist, Bryan Marlowe. Not heard of him yet? Well, that's why he's a 'cult hero'. Read on...

Bryan always takes pleasure in his work...It does seem like a long time ago. Eleven years, in fact...before falling in love with Brussels (where he arrived via a circuitous journalistic route, taking in The Yellow Advertiser in East London http://icessex.icnetwork.co.uk, which explains why he's a West Ham supporter), your 'umble hack Drew started scribbling in the ancient northern town of York, where a certain UP Front editor Tony Mallett (yes, him again), made a big mistake - he gave him a job as a journalist.

The sadly-defunct free-sheet The York and District Advertiser was where Drew first won his spurs and, if you're wondering when I'm ever going to get to the point of this yarn, don't worry, it'll be any second now.

Because, at this time (told you), Drew also came into the orbit of one Bryan Marlowe, a letter-writer extraordinaire, a man with more bylines in The York Evening Press (www.yorkpress.co.uk) than many of its journalists. Drew, anxious to score points against the 'Tizer's fiercest rival (ah, memories), shamelessly bribed the man with competition prizes, free meals and more than a few sherbets, to ensure that Marlowe's missives began flowing into another newspaper.

The York Press (as they are now called) had the last laugh, unfortunately - doubtless stung by their plucky rival's chutzpah, they offered Bryan a job as a columnist. Which he took, the swine...[Good point - exactly why are we giving him a plug, Drew? - ED]

But enough of the past - Marlowe, who was born in London in 1930 (revenge truly is a dish best served cold) and left school at the age of 14, has long lived the rover's life. Conscripted for National Service in 1948, he served two years, was demobbed, then worked for Siemens and rejoined the RAF as a regular in January 1951.An RAF regular from 1951-71, he then worked for a further 20 years with a northern police force. His extensive foreign travels, combined with his life's career path, inform the genuinely exciting narratives of his four books to date. Up to press, these are As Long As There's Tomorrow, an intensely personal romantic saga about love lost and regained, Memoirs of an Errant Youth, a tongue-in-cheek account of the author's early years of employment in wartime Britain and the immediate post-war period of austerity, Tarnished Heroes, a cold-war thriller set in the Far East and A Kind of Wild Justice, an ex-sergeant-major-turns-vigilante page-turner.

Memoirs of an Errant Youth - By Bryan MarloweAs Long As There's Tomorrow - By Bryan MarloweA Kind of Wild Justice - By Bryan Marlowe

And, just for those readers wondering what the connection is between Bryan and Brussels, be informed that he says he'd "very much like to revisit the capital of Belgium, so long as the G+Ts are on Drew's tab". Just what we need in town - another writer...[Drew, you're fired - ED]

For more information on the man Marlowe and his work (he's currently working on a fifth, Settled Out of Court), go to http://www.diadembooks.com/tomorrow.htm, where you'll also find links to purchase all of his thus-far published tomes. Happy reading!


Brussels-based freelance journalist Tom Slaughter reviews Settled Out Of Court by Bryan Marlowe.

 Considering that he only turned to novels two years ago, Bryan Marlowe proved himself prolific and more than adept at handling a range of genres, from the whimsical nostalgia of Memoirs of an Errant Youth, via the military rough and tumble of Tarnished Heroes, to riveting revenge yarn A Kind of Wild Justice.

 Settled Out Of Court runs along similar lines to …Justice, but Marlowe’s choice of a sociopathic, revenge-driven young man as central character lifts the narrative into the realm of psychological study, as well as being a cracking read.

 Dermot Baxter is the man with a plan – his father Rex died in jail after being wrongly imprisoned for the murder of his au pair lover. Still at home but distant from his mother, Baxter embarks on a calculated mission of revenge against all those members of the law and judiciary whom he believes must pay for the injustice. But the law is slowly and surely closing in…

 Marlowe’s own police experience (he worked for 20 years with a northern force in the UK) is put to good use here; the dialogue between the ‘coppers on the case’ is believable, even if it occasionally seems forced between Baxter and his mother. By the same token, the writer’s gift for creating enjoyable page-turners has once again been employed – that we are suckered into sympathising for a cold-blooded killer is an impressive turn from Marlowe, and there are more than enough twists and turns, coupled with genuinely suspenseful set-pieces, to keep thriller-hounds happy. Recommended.

 T.S.