I was very fortunate to meet lovely Daniel Pembrey at an event organised by The Book Club (#TBConFB) on Facebook but with an enormous pile of books awaiting review it’s taken me several months to get round to reading my signed copy of The Candidate. The Candidate is available in ebook, audio and paperback on Amazon UK and Amazon US.
I have also read another of Daniel’s short stories, The Lion Hunter, and you can read that review here.
When Nick Thorneycroft wakes to find a long blonde hair on his pillow and some female underwear on his bedroom floor but he can’t remember a thing about the night before, little does he anticipate the chain of events about to unfold. This is more than just a good night out!
I’m not sure quite how he does it, but in only 126 pages Daniel Pembrey manages to encompass a world of international and corporate espionage, intrigue, sexuality and violence in a novella worthy of the best crime writers. I think the fact that this is a novella gives a sharpness to the writing so that each word has to earn its keep. However, that’s not to say that there isn’t sufficient description to add colour too. There’s a real sense of place so that Luxembourg, rather than any other European city, has to be the setting for The Candidate with views over the skyline, bridges and side streets all adding to the atmosphere and advancing the plot. I’d even go so far as to say that Luxembourg is a character in its own right.
There’s very much a feel of James Bond about the plot, although Nick is a far more prosaic character than 007 and all the more appealing for it. Given the political and corporate world he inhabits, Nick could be described as either totally naive or completely astute when he doesn’t go to the police following some startling events, and that is what makes this such a compelling story. The reader accepts Nick’s decisions and wants to know the truth as much as he does.
There are twists and turns aplenty in The Candidate and Daniel Pembrey deceived me on a number of occasions making for a highly satisfying read. The title has a range of interpretations – who is the candidate for leaving their underwear on Nick’s floor? Who is the candidate being headhunted by Nick’s firm? Why does the firm need such a candidate in the first place? Who are the candidates pursuing Nick? Whilst these questions are resolved, there’s also a kind of cliff hanger with scope for further development of Nick in another story which I’d certainly like to read.
If you want an exciting, quick and intriguing read, I can’t recommend The Candidate highly enough.