Posts Tagged ‘Stuart R Brogan’

BOOK INFO

Length: 356 Pages

Publisher: Midgard Books

Release Date: January 7, 2017

Review copy provided as part of Jackals Blog Tour by Confessions Publicity

Jackals is Stuart R Brogan’s debut novel and focuses on a shadowy group of killers known as Jackals who descend on the small town of Wells, an affluent city known for being a hotbed of Masonic activity. One of their own has been captured and they enter the station driven by bloodlust and a singular mission preached by their bosses: embrace the Primitive. The aftermath of their arrival finds an entire police force brutally murdered and chaos brewing in the city. The group is careful to leave no evidence at the crime scene with the exception of a mysterious sigil painted on the wall in blood.

Detective Inspector Lewis Class is a cop nearing the end of his career and to put it bluntly – his life is a mess. He’s totally alone with no family or any real close friends and things aren’t much better at work. He basically goes through the motions, knowing that he isn’t that great of a cop and looking forward to the day he doesn’t have to worry about the responsibility the only things he really enjoys are drinking and the occasional hit of cocaine. Class is the last person you would expect to tackle the brutal slayings of the officers in the police station, but that is what he is tasked to do. If you had to conjure up an image of him in your mind, he would be a polar opposite of what you would expect an action hero to be like. He realizes quickly that this case is above his head and he had little chance to solve it, his only real leads being the sigil and a suburban couple whose car was found not far from the massacre.

Earlier on readers are introduced to Jesse Reid and her husband Damien. They have been married for 16 years and are an average married couple. They love each other but each have their own faults and occasional rough patches. Damien loves his wife with everything he has, but he has jealousy issues and is easily intimidated. Jesse suffers from severe depression that seems to stem from a strained relationship with her father and other dark events buried in her past. While out celebrating their anniversary and an ordinary evening until they have a fateful meeting with a mysterious woman who will change the course of their lives forever and kickstarts a deadly cat and mouse game that serves as the driving factor of Jackals.

Brogan’s main strength in Jackals is that he does a good job of establishing tension and has a keen sense of pacing. Jackals starts off a little slow at first, but within a few pages it’s off to the races and Brogan injects a sense of urgency that permeates almost every page of Jackals. These days reading time seems harder to come by, so for me to be invested in a story, the author needs to grab me. That doesn’t mean it has to be nonstop action on every page, but whether it is through action-packed scenes, strong character development or just an intriguing premise, I need a reason to keep turning the page. Jackals definitely delivers on all of those areas. When I first started it, I would read in quick bursts whenever I had a spare minute before putting it down for the night. However, it took less than a few chapters before it became harder and harder to tear myself away from Brogan’s world full of ruthless killers and shadowy secret societies.

Brogan also does a good job of building up the mystery behind the Jackals, who work for a mysterious known only as “The Order”. While the name may not strike fear in the hearts of those who encounter it, they are a diabolical group. Jackals is an accurate name for the people they employ –  Bloodthirsty killers who will stop at nothing to achieve their goals of achieving the “Primitive”. These people are clearly deranged, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t smart or sloppy in their work. They are like ghosts in that they aren’t in the system and are able to blend into society fairly well. They also put a lot of planning into their attacks and account for every possible contingency, making them a pretty formidable group of antagonists.

I won’t get too much into the history of the group because that would ruin the suspense, but they are an interesting group that stands out a little bit from your typical cult that you see in most stories. They have a pretty warped view of the world that drives their goals and share some similarities with other groups that pop up frequently in the horror and thriller genres, but what is interesting and helps set them apart is the set of rules they follow. I also loved the way Brogan created a hierarchy within The Order which also adds originality to the novel. I wish we got more scenes showing the inner workings of the different groups, like how the Jackals are selected from the general public or what Internal Security has done to secure their deadly reputation. This isn’t a negative toward the novel because leaving some of these things a mystery makes The Order and their factions even more interesting, but just wishful thinking on my part.

Brogan’s excellent characterization doesn’t just apply to The Order (though that is what will initially grab the reader’s interest), but to the other characters as well.  My personal favorite is Jesse Reid, easily one of the strongest and most interesting characters in the novel. Despite all of the demons in her past and the self-doubt that appears early in the novel, she is incredibly resourceful and brave. When the Jackals deliver their ultimatum to her, it would have been easy for her to run and hide (I know I would have!), but she jumps into full on survival mode. She gathers supplies and starts formulating a plan that if I’m being honest, I would have been too paranoid and scared to think of if faced with a similar situation. I thought it was brilliant how readers get to see her evolve over the course of the novel and she is a badass in every sense of the word!

Jesse and Class make for an odd pairing, but they have a remarkable amount of chemistry. Despite coming from two different backgrounds, they open up to each other and share some of their darkest secrets with one another. There isn’t anything romantic there, they just forge an incredibly close bond while facing chaos and a group that would love nothing more than to see them both dead.

While there is a lot to enjoy about Jackals, there were a few parts of the story that didn’t quite work for me. Early on, when two detectives are interrogating a mysterious stranger described simply as “Gaunt Man”, Brogan reveals the man’s true intentions a little early, which kind of ruins the suspense cultivated at the beginning of that scene. That is a minor complaint though considering later scenes do a much better job of keeping things vague. Also there are a lot of times early on where the book is too heavy with the DC/PC stuff when talking about the different officers. A mention here and there may be important to establish the characters, but it kind of jumbles up some of the early scenes.

Jackals is a pulse-pounding thriller that is bursting with blood-soaked scenes, great characters, and plenty of plot twists that will keep you guessing all the way to the final page of the novel. I have never read Brogan’s work before, but Jackals is a very impressive debut and I will definitely be looking forward to his future work. If you enjoy thrillers or real-life horror, don’t let this gem slip under your radar!

Rating: 4/5

LINKS

Stuart R Brogan’s author Facebook page

Purchase Jackals: Amazon and Barnes & Noble

Jackals Synopsis

From the aftermath of a brutal massacre at a rural police station, two survivors leave behind a swathe of bodies and a cryptic sigil painted on the wall, in blood.

A disgraced Detective Inspector begrudgingly starts to investigate the crime scene but as the facts begin to emerge the trail appears to lead into the highest echelons of power, making the policeman himself the next target.

As the conspiracy spirals ever deeper and with no-one to trust, both prime suspect and policeman are forced into an unlikely alliance to prove, not only their innocence, but the existence of a force so ingrained into our society, it could rewrite the very fabric of human nature.

About Stuart R Brogan

 Stuart R Brogan is a former nightclub bouncer and unwaveringly proud Heathen who loves nothing more than expanding people’s minds with Pagan related Non-Fiction or blowing people’s brains out with fast paced, gut wrenching, thrilling horrors.

Harley lover, extreme metal drummer and avid movie nerd, Stuart has never followed the crowd but instead carved his own path and danced to his own tune. Since his early years, Stuart found escapism in both the written word and the silver screen. A huge fan of 80’s Action / Horror movies such as The Thing, Aliens, Predator & Die Hard and literary heroes such as Shaun Hutson, Clive Barker, Richard Layman and Brian Lumley, Stuart endeavours to bring an unapologetic cinematic eye to his fiction in the hopes of rekindling his childhood sense of wonder, all whilst blowing through vast amounts of ammunition down his local shooting range.

Stuart currently resides in Glastonbury, UK with his long-suffering wife and man eating Shih-Poo dog “Poppy” where he co-owns a kick ass Viking / Asatru shop, fiercely named “Shield Maiden”.

Today’s post on The Horror Bookshelf comes from Stuart R Brogan, the author of the brutal thriller Jackals which is out now. I have a review scheduled for tomorrow, so I won’t dig too much into the novel, but Jackals is a very impressive debut. This was the first work of Brogan’s that I was able to read, but I left very impressed and I look forward to reading more of his work in the future! Brogan’s post is about his thoughts on self-publishing and his experience with it when it comes to his own writing.

My own personal thoughts are that while I have no issue with major publishers or horror titles that are released through one of the major publishers or affiliates, I have to say some of the best horror fiction I have read since starting this blog (or even before) has come from independent presses and self-published authors. Brogan makes some good points about how some self-published books can be sloppily put together, but I know of a ton of authors who have gone into self-publishing and done an incredible job.

Before I turn over the blog to Stuart, I want to thank him and Nev of Confessions Publicity for having me on the tour!

Going It Alone

By Stuart R Brogan

A seismic shift has occurred within the publishing world over the last few years. Many of the big players within the industry have battened down the hatches and tightened their belts with regards to the number of new books released and the new authors they take on. Even those eagle-eyed literary agents searching for the next big thing have cut back regarding new clients, thus the hopes of many an author securing that dream deal have been pretty much dashed. But should we retreat and sob into our cereal bowls and hurl abuse to anyone that will listen regarding the injustice of it all? Or is there another way to attain that craved recognition regarding our work, regardless of the genre we dabble in?

For many years, the term “Self-Publishing” was looked upon with disgust. The mere mention of those two words was only whispered among the echelons of literary power and deemed a “Vanity” rather than a viable publishing platform. However, it seems that now the whole world and his/her dog is involved in it to some degree, proving that it is a monster that shows no sign of retreating any time soon.

Let’s be brutally honest, self-publishing is a veritable minefield. It is a double-edged sword that can destroy a career before it even begins, or catapult an unknown author into Bestseller-Dom. One only has to trawl the most popular sites to witness the vast array of titles vying for our attention, most of which are subpar for even the most ardent fan. It is a sad fact that the internet is awash with ebook’s and trade backs that suffer from horrendous formatting, editing, cover design and a whole host of other issues. It would appear this new technology has unleashed a tidal wave of authors, all clinging to the dream that their book is bound for Hollywood.

But herein lies the problem. With such a sea of titles, how can we make ourselves stand out from the crowd? In essence, we are just one blade of grass in a field of green, all competing for that one shot and trying to secure our name as a quality brand.

The cold hard truth is that ninety-nine-point nine percent of self-published authors will sell next to no books; even fewer will catch the attention of a “big name” agent/publisher. Even less still, will be able to make a living from it. Even the big boys have noticed a dramatic change in our reading habits. When once it was acceptable to sell “X” amount of books when released, it has now diminished to half that number. So, you see, even THEY are worried regarding sales figures and look what kind of media/promotional machines they have behind them. What chance do we have?

But hold your horses; we have a few things that can work in our favour. For one, we have the tenacity to dance to our own tune and behold to no-one. Secondly, we have total control over content / rights and the marketing plan and thirdly, we have the passion to become better and to push ourselves. Without the corporate machine pushing us, we are reliant on our own resolve and determination to propel our career forward. This, of course, is down to our own individual level of dedication; some may flourish under such pressure while others may fold.

I myself tried to obtain that elusive agent to take me on with the hopes they could find me a home, and while I got excellent feedback, I had no takers. But before you call me a failure, I would like to state that looking back, it was a great thing because it galvanized me into action.

I would do it myself damn it and see what happens. Of course, I have faith in my work, but going at it alone was as scary as it was exciting. I have to say, I have been lucky to have made contact with some truly fantastic people within my genre. To be honest, I thought that it would be a dog eat dog scenario but I am glad I was proved wrong because instead of polarising authors, self-publishing has brought us together. Everyone helping each other and spreading the word. I was amazed by the openness shown to me and I am truly humbled by the advice and help given. It is something I shall never forget.

Don’t get me wrong I am not selling millions of books (not yet anyway) but have slowly got my name out there amongst those who matter. I have to say that I was (contrary to my earlier statement) amazed by how many big-name authors have left or turned down deals with major houses to go it alone. It would seem that being signed to a big boy isn’t all that it is cracked up to be. Some of them seem to be doing very well in terms of making a living and all because of going at it alone.

So, there you have it. Self-publishing is either a gift or a curse depending on how you approach it. Will you curl up in a little ball, scared of rejection or will you stand on your own two feet and go for it? I know what I would do.

In fact, I’m doing it!

Until next time…

LINKS

Stuart R Brogan’s author Facebook page

Purchase Jackals: Amazon and Barnes & Noble

Jackals Synopsis

From the aftermath of a brutal massacre at a rural police station, two survivors leave behind a swathe of bodies and a cryptic sigil painted on the wall, in blood.

A disgraced Detective Inspector begrudgingly starts to investigate the crime scene but as the facts begin to emerge the trail appears to lead into the highest echelons of power, making the policeman himself the next target.

As the conspiracy spirals ever deeper and with no-one to trust, both prime suspect and policeman are forced into an unlikely alliance to prove, not only their innocence, but the existence of a force so ingrained into our society, it could rewrite the very fabric of human nature.

About Stuart R Brogan

 Stuart R Brogan is a former nightclub bouncer and unwaveringly proud Heathen who loves nothing more than expanding people’s minds with Pagan related Non-Fiction or blowing people’s brains out with fast paced, gut wrenching, thrilling horrors.

Harley lover, extreme metal drummer and avid movie nerd, Stuart has never followed the crowd but instead carved his own path and danced to his own tune. Since his early years, Stuart found escapism in both the written word and the silver screen. A huge fan of 80’s Action / Horror movies such as The Thing, Aliens, Predator & Die Hard and literary heroes such as Shaun Hutson, Clive Barker, Richard Layman and Brian Lumley, Stuart endeavours to bring an unapologetic cinematic eye to his fiction in the hopes of rekindling his childhood sense of wonder, all whilst blowing through vast amounts of ammunition down his local shooting range.

Stuart currently resides in Glastonbury, UK with his long-suffering wife and man eating Shih-Poo dog “Poppy” where he co-owns a kick ass Viking / Asatru shop, fiercely named “Shield Maiden”.