I am delighted to be sharing “Letterbox” by P.A.Davies as part of the blog tour by Caroline at Bits About Books. My thanks to Caroline for my spot on the tour and also the author for my e-copy of the book.
Letterbox is strong, powerful, emotive. A harrowing novel about the 1996 Manchester IRA bombing – what a haunting tale and heartbreaking insight into the lives of those, responsible for the bombings and of those, who by their very being had no choice but to be implicated in it… their lives will never be the same…
At approximately 09.00 hrs on the 15th June 1996, an unassuming white lorry was parked on Corporation Street in the city centre of Manchester, England; It contained over 3000 pounds of high explosive.
At 11.15 hrs the same day, Manchester witnessed the detonation of the largest device on the British mainland since the Second World War … The Irish Republican Army claimed responsibility for the attack.
Based around actual events, LETTERBOX tells the story of Liam Connor, an ordinary boy brought up in Manchester by a seemingly ordinary family. He goes to the local school, loves football and has a best friend called Sean … an ordinary life.
Unbeknown to Liam, his father, Michael Connor, harbours a dark historic secret and follows a life less ordinary … as a furtive yet high ranking soldier within the IRA.
As a result of extraordinary circumstances, Liam’s innocent and carefree world is shattered when he is exposed to the truth about his family’s heritage and then learns about the tragic death of his father at the hands of the SAS.
Consumed with both hate and the need to seek retribution, Liam is taken to Ireland where he is intensively trained to become a highly skilled and efficient soldier within the Irish Republican Army … He is 16 years old.
Some years later, following the drug-induced death of his beloved sister, Liam is given the opportunity to exact his revenge on those he believed should truly be blamed for the tragedies in his life … The British Government.
Thus, on the 15th June 1996, it was Liam’s responsibility to drive the bomb-laden lorry into the unsuspecting city of Manchester and let the voice of the IRA be clearly heard …
And listened to…
This has been a difficult review for me to write. I understand people have their own reasons for their actions, I do not always agree with them. Trying to kill people to make a point is not something I agree with. But I am reviewing a book based on actual events and I will try to convey my thoughts on the story.
Theauthorhas used facts from the 1996 Manchester bombing by the IRA and wrapped a fictional aspect around it to create an addictive, powerful, hard and yet compelling read. As you will see from his Author bio below, he was raised in Manchester, he has an interest in the city. The synopsis is detailed so you are aware in advance of the content of the story.
The story begins with two old friends meeting up by chance just before the explosion, they have not seen each other for years. I was then taken back as these two characters as they grew up. Liam and Sean become best friends and I got to experience their childhood antics and the taunts towards Liam from other children. Liam’s family is a one of the father being away working a lot, with Liam not knowing exactly what his father does. This all changes one night and suddenly opens up a world that challenges everything Liam believes in.
The first part of the story is actually the main bulk of the book and deals with Liam, Sean and their lives. Then towards the end of the book is the shorter Part Two, and I got to learn a little bit about Liam’s sister. Even though she has been in the story, she is often only a brief mention, it is in this part of the story that I finally got to learn about her, and how events have affected her on a personal level. The often forgotten and older of the two siblings.
The story also incorporates little bits of history from the 1916 Easter Uprising against British rule in the Irish Republic, and the IRA. This gave a different perspective to the Manchester bombing. Though there are political reasons for why this happened, the author has not gone into the politics too much. He has kept the story about the friendship of two boys, about their family and also their belief.
The author, for me has done a wonderful job of setting out this story. I was hooked pretty quickly and as I was slowly drawn deeper in. I got a real sense of family and friendship from the lives of the boys. As they got older and events unfolded the speed gradually increased and I was flipping pages faster, it was if it had taken on an urgency as I turned the pages quicker.
The bombing is described and the author has in my opinion dealt with it well. I felt that he hadn’t over dramatised the event, but had shown a side of an event from the perspective of a characters personal point of view.
This is a book that I would definitely recommend to readers. It is an emotional, strong, fact based book.
I would also advise reading the Epilogue. I know many readers do this, but for those that don’t, you will find just a couple of pages of very interesting facts of Manchester before and also after the bombing.
About the Author:
P.A. Davies grew up in Manchester, UK, a place he has lived in and around all his life – he loves Manchester and is proud to be part of the multi-cultural, modern city that houses two Premiership football teams and is the birthplace of many a famous band, such as Oasis, the Stone Roses, Take That and Simply Red.
For most of his life, he dabbled with writing various pieces, from poems to short fictional stories just for fun. However, following advice from a good friend he decided to have a go at writing a novel. Thus, his first novel ‘Letterbox’ was conceived, a fictional take on the infamous IRA bombing of Manchester in 1996. It took him over a year to complete but while doing so, he found it to be one of the most satisfying and interesting paths he had ever followed. It comes as no surprise that the writing bug now became firmly embedded within him.
P.A. Davies’ second book was published in May 2013, ‘George: A Gentleman of the Road’, a true story about one of Manchester’s homeless. His third novel, ‘The Good in Mister Philips’, is an erotic novel (arguably set to rival Fifty Shades…!) and his fourth, ‘Nobody Heard Me Cry’ (Dec. 2015) is again a fact-based tale, this time of Manchester’s darker side. The thriller ‘Absolution’ (Oct. 2017) is his fifth novel. Currently, P.A. Davies is writing his sixth novel, titled ‘I, Muslim.’
To label P.A. Davies’ writings would be difficult because his works diverse from thrillers to touching novels to true-to-life tales embedded in a captivating story for the author is an imaginative and versatile storyteller.
Other Books by the Author –
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