‘This is an intelligently and thoughtfully written story about how the choices we make affect our lives. Stephen, the main character, is a university lecturer and a literary man. It is, therefore, no coincidence that the novel is strewn with literary allusions. Some of these I noted and I am fairly certain there were some I missed. However, I would happily go back and read this book again to seek them out. After the first few pages, I was confident that Jack Messenger was going to deliver a good novel. This enabled me to relax and allow the drama to unfold. There were some things left unsaid in this book and the reader was allowed to wonder what might have been. This plot was skilfully executed and added to a very satisfying story line.’ (Readers Favorite)
‘What a treat – hard on the heels of Jack Messenger’s Farewell Olympus comes Take the Late Train, a quite different but no less engrossing read. Weaving between the present day and a vivid, in some ways AS present, past, the story is a deliberation on choices made, including what to know and what to be complicit in ‘unknowing’, and action over inaction. The book’s considerable cast of characters is deftly drawn, and even those with walk-on parts tend to trigger a degree of identification or empathy in the reader. The author inhabits the thoughts of central character, middle-aged academic Stephen, but is equally convincing in his portrayals of a teenage daughter and elderly mother. The sets of couples who variously reveal themselves to be anything but, are juxtaposed with more isolated figures (and indeed, isolation occurs devastatingly within couples). While melancholy – and for some characters, tragedy – is a motif, so too is love. Stephen’s own story includes no small degree of hope, and is ultimately a celebration of free will. With overt and less obvious allusions to Shakespeare and other writers, and prose which blends precision with poetry – elderly, frequently drunk Audrey is ‘dishevelled bedevilled’ and two greyhounds are perfectly evoked by their ‘clipping’ in and out of rooms – this is a work to be savoured on many levels. Highly recommended.’ (Amazon UK review)
Another Excellent Goodreads Review for Farewell Olympus
‘Farewell Olympusis an enjoyable and elegantly constructed romp around fraternal rivalry, family dynamics, literary aspiration, self-definition and the stories we tell ourselves and others. Someone should snap up the film rights.’ See the complete review atGoodreads Review
I loved reading Farewell Olympus. It was a page-turner with humor and insight, the characters were complicated and fun, and the story started simply and played out in a more complicated way with Paris as the setting. But Paris as a place to live and work and not the romanticized faux version of baguettes or berets. Although easy to read, I had to look up several words which were seamlessly woven into the narrative but were new to me. Amazon US review
‘This book is ingenious. It is a page-turning, suspense-filled detective story that includes a sharp sense of humour AND it has a hero who fulfils his detective role with an intellectual slant, giving us a sceptical view of the world as filled with corruption, literary references, irony, and relatives we’d rather not see.
There is a wonderful dead-pan attitude of the hero that makes the reader eager to hear more. Here is the hero’s reaction when he is woken in the night by his unwanted house guest who is also his brother: “‘Shouldn’t you be in bed?’ I asked, after I’d had enough and put on a robe. I checked the time: three o’clock. A bad time. The hour of the demon. Shovel-faced men with pitiless eyes knock at doors at three o’clock in the morning.”
The hero’s troubled and hysterical interaction with women he’s attracted to is akin to Peter Sellers’ experiences in the Pink Panther movies:
‘There is nothing wrong with your teeth, Howard. In fact, I have noticed how well you look after them. They are very even – so even that I thought they might be dentures. Delphine says she is almost certain they are genuine.’
‘They are genuine.’
Celeste approached and manipulated my upper lip with her thumb. She examined my teeth. I could see them reflected in her eyes. They looked blue today – her eyes, that is. She tugged at my lower lip and pulled it around. It was curiously unsettling to have a beautiful lawyer examining my mouth in that way. I could hear people passing on the street outside her window. I wondered what they would think if they could see through the blinds.
Here’s an example of the irresistible style and humour of the story when the character is struggling to deal with the hot weather and his professional and sleuthing dilemmas:
Deeply unhappy, I wandered to the balcony in search of perspective, to feel the elements against my skin. The cloudless sky pressed against my best intentions; the sun battered at my humble ambitions. The city couldn’t take much more of this. People had fainted in the streets; an elderly man had died of sunstroke; the president had removed his jacket.
The novel’s humour is corny and fresh at the same time. This trait mixed with a reluctant, under-dog detective makes this tale a highly diverting read. To top it off, this detective who sees no hope in this world ends up giving us just that! I highly recommend this book! (Amazon UK review)