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**Larry Flynn** by Max Power*5-Star Thriller

Larry Flynn is an intriguing and emotionally charged character driven novel.  It’s a story about political corruption, greed, sinister plots and the destruction of innocent lives. Larry Flynn is a cantankerous old geezer; an irritable, angry man, who has spent most of his life resentful, alone and plotting revenge. Larry can’t believe his luck. Even though […]

Little Big Boy explained in a superb review from Pam D. Kesterson

Little Big Boy explained in a superb review from Pam D. Kesterson

I began to realize the implications of this story with Max Power’s use of foreshadowing. He hooked me with the quick pace right from the start. The story that reads like a memoir pulled me in from the beginning as Little Big Boy forgot his baby sister Lo-Lo in the supermarket. I practically bit my nails down to the skin at the thought of what would happen to her. Even though set in a safer time (1970 Dublin, Ireland), I still imagined horrible things.

With Little Big Boy’s ever-expanding relationship with his Mam, he managed to tell the story with tenderness and without a bitter tear coming through his little-big eyes. Much attention should be given to the author’s approach of love and warmth filtered through the goodness of Little Big Boy’s Mam and him wanting to please her–the one person he loved more than anybody else.

Despite an alcoholic father, and his circumstances both at school and in surrounding neighbourhoods, the excellent writing of Max Power did not subject me, the reader, with too much to handle too soon. Even with this little boy’s tummy empty many times, and the page-turning darkness always looming, the emotional writing style told from Little Big Boy’s perspective alleviates much of the heaviness of his survival. His longing to fit in without compromising his Mam-instilled honour, even in the intensity of so much anguish, there are small mercies of kindness interspersed. Plus, there are many delightful details as Little Big Boy goes deep into his imagination-filled make believe worlds.

The author, Max Power sandwiches even the worst of circumstances between innocence and joy with quite a few tears of sadness for the secret sauce. Little Big Boy’s perceptive self is big enough to see acts of kindness that mellowed out the harsh truths. These acts of humanity soften the appalling developments, and Little Big Boy’s determination alone allows him to celebrate in the end with his soul unharmed.

A couple of scenes reminded me of the best-selling memoir, Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt and another wonderful memoir, The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls. Both books are about children growing up poor with alcoholic fathers. Like Angela’s Ashes, Little Big Boy brought the flavour of Dublin to life. But Little Big Boy’s mother figure and their relationship together grabbed into the heart of this mother. With that comparison, as a mother of two boys, I’d have to say Little Big Boy struck a greater chord with me. That difference in mother love labels this book as one of my all-time favourites.


Max Power’s books include, Darkly Wood, Larry Flynn Bad Blood and Little Big Boy

You can find more details about Max Power’s books here : –

twitter @maxpowerbooks1

A tangled web…

A tangled web…

I remember my first kiss and it wasn’t great. I’ve blogged about it before (if you want to read about it, you will find the blog here ) worth a read I think.  We can get very nostalgic about our firsts, but it often hides the truth.  Your first kiss, the first time you made love, chances are they weren’t the best experiences of your life.  Unless you get extremely lucky, the first apple pie you eat won’t be the best apple pie you will ever eat.  Of course like everything in life there are exceptions, but we tend to learn through trial and error and benefit from the time and experience that life gives us, as we move through this world.

What firsts do give us is an emotional connection to that moment and a memory, that because of that emotion usually lasts longer and has deeper meaning than the second such event in our life.  In books, while the opening is always important, it is not always the first but the last that can make the most important impact.  As a writer, one of my biggest concerns is how I wrap up a book, how I bring a story to the best conclusion for that particular journey.  As a reader, I have enjoyed many books that were ruined for me as they have fallen flat just at the end.  It might sound easy but until you actually write a book, you don’t know how difficult this can be to get just right.


My latest book, Little Big Boy, has a very unusual ending.  I am not going to spoil it here, but the truth is that I wrote the ending, re-wrote the ending and then rewrote the ending once again.  Why?  The reason was simple, I wasn’t happy.  I didn’t torment myself because I wasn’t happy with the structure, the pace or the general quality of the writing.  The reason I was unhappy was because it didn’t satisfy me as a reader.  I knew exactly where I wanted to go but for some reason I couldn’t get it just perfect and until I did, the book was simply not going to be published.  You might be pleased to learn that I got there in the end.

I have my own way of doing things.  When I am writing a book I always know the ending.  That’s not to say, my original thought is how the book will ultimately finish up.  The important thing is to make sure it is right from a reader’s perspective.  The trick for me is quite simply to be a dreadful liar, to be as deceitful as possible.  I like to give readers something that they think is going to surprise them anyway and then give them something entirely different.  It’s akin to trying to convince your best friend that you are not sleeping with his sister, to divert him away from the possibility that you might be sleeping with his wife, but ultimately revealing that you are in love with his son… They shouldn’t see it coming for me.  But it is not always about surprise and certainly it is not always necessary to surprise at the end.  Some endings need to draw the reader in to a safe haven.  However, where possible, I like to ambush my readers. Nor is about overly complex diversions.  Sometimes it is only simple illusion.  The best card tricks are the simple ones that blindside you.

An ending has to tie the various strands of a book together.  Sometimes it might need to be left somewhat open ended, to allow for a sequel.  My first published book Darkly Wood, needed to wrap up as though it was a one-off book.  At the same time as feeling like a stand alone novel, I wanted to leave possibilities for the sequel that I planned to write. Darkly Wood II The woman who never wore shoes is now in the final stages of first draft.  But I have a problem in writing this second Darkly Wood book.  I knew exactly where I wanted to go when I set out on the journey and I kind of knew more or less how it would end.  Turns out I was wrong.


Early on in the process of writing Darkly Wood II, I believed that this was part of a two book plan.  However I introduced a new character, initially a small part that grew and grew as I developed the story and that character fundamentally changed everything.  His name is Wormhold and I fell in love with him.  As the story headed for my planned conclusion, I began to realise that I had no choice, or really I had two choices.  I could make Darkly Wood II a massive tome to get the story to where it needed to go because of what Wormhold injected, or I would have to make this a three book series. Ultimately the choice was simple once I went through the next logical step and Wormhold made it for me.

I wrote two separate endings.  The first one closes off the story and I don’t like it.  Not because there is anything wrong with the ending, it is just not fully satisfying.  Not all readers would notice, but I notice and it’s a perfectly good ending. Of course the choice was simple; there would be a third and final Darkly Wood. Wormhold forced my hand and I now find myself with the prospect of going back to the well at some point in the future, to write the final book in the series even though the second is not complete.

The alternate ending, which leads to my choice to write book three is still not right however. I am not happy with it.  I have lied and cheated my way to the end of the book but it is not enough.  Each book has to stand alone so it isn’t enough for me to leave an open end.  The original Darkly Wood twists and turns right to the bitter end.  Those who have read Darkly Wood will know how I changed everything up each time they thought they knew where I was going.  It wasn’t about red herrings or multiple possibilities.  If anything, Darkly Wood is a fairly straightforward love story that is intended to keep you nervous if not frightened for much of its telling.  Granted I have a pretty warped way of telling a love story and it is quite a horror story, but those that have entered and survived that wonderful place will know what I mean.


The twists come from creating expectation in the reader’s mind and then shattering the illusion.  Nothing is as it seems in Darkly Wood.  Even the title is misleading to some extent.  I know from reader feedback, that most people enjoyed the ending.  Similar to the original, the sequel has a huge surprise at the end.  But I am not happy with it and part of the reason for the unhappiness, is that it means I have to write book three.

Don’t get me wrong, I love writing about Darkly Wood.  I could write ten Darkly Wood books and I would never get bored.   Why I am apprehensive about a third book is twofold.  Much like book II, a third book needs to stand alone, yet carry the story forward and that always presents a challenge.  Perhaps from a more practical point of view, I have so many projects on at the moment, I don’t know where I will find the time for the third book.  I don’t want to leave it too long, but I have three books at some stage of writing and more I want to do.  I hadn’t planned for a third in the series and now, I have to find the time.

So as often is the case it is the ending that decides everything.  I can read four hundred great pages and find the last five let me down.  When that happens I tend to remember only the ending, so as ever, I will lose sleep over this one in an effort to get it right. I think it’s time to walk away and work on something else for a bit so I can come back and read again with fresh eyes.   It seems it will always be so…

Darkly Wood II The woman who never wore shoes is coming soon, why not discover the original for yourself or read one of Max Power’s other books here;-


Max Power’s books include, Darkly Wood, Larry Flynn Bad Blood and Little Big Boy

You can find more details about Max Power’s books here : –

twitter @maxpowerbooks1

How to Gain Free Exposure for Your Blog: Reblogging

Today as is my usual routine on Meet and Greet weekends, I will be reblogging posts.  Please leave the link to your post in the comments and I will review for family-friendly content and then reblog. If you leave a link please reblog this post as a “thank you” to Dream Big.  It is appreciated! […]

More fool me…

More fool me…

It is easy to kill people.  All you have to do is close your mouth, do nothing and turn away.  It is just as easy to be opinionated and pontificate, take the high moral ground and lecture the silent majority on their inaction. All you have to do is open your mouth, do nothing and still let them die.  The sad fact is that regardless of what we like to believe we should or could do, life is cheap and most people work hard to avoid looking their own conscience in the eye.  I know I don’t.

I am doing some research for a book I am writing, about a murderer on the loose in 19th Century Ireland.  The backdrop is the terrible period in Irish history known to all Irish people simply as ‘the famine.’  It was a national tragedy spread out over decades that left an enduring mark on the Irish psyche.   With this in mind, I could not but help be drawn to the tragic scenes of mass migration, unfolding daily on our television screens, as desperate people flee circumstances most of us will never come close to understanding.

In a sense I am taking something from their misery, feeding from their plight.  It is what writers do, or at least it is often what I do.   While we are thought about what happened in the famine times during our many years in school, none of us today, certainly not the younger more prosperous internet generation, really understand what it must have been like for the wretched souls that fought daily for survival.  Even my relatively unprosperous beginnings, couldn’t bring me to that place of loss, sorrow, grief, hunger and absolute desperation.

Dublin, Famine Memorial Statues photo: Famine memorial statues in Dublin PA170848.jpg

When I wrote Larry Flynn, I did extensive research into the Nazi finance machine during the second world war as well as digging into the Irish army archive for details on a real airfield built, but never used in the middle of nowhere, in 1943.  While most of the information was never used in the book, the research was invaluable to develop the plot and make a modern day gangland story, centred on revenge for a decades old crime, come to life.

Similarly, for Bad Blood, much of my research into the death row facility in Raiford Florida, was  not directly used in the book, but again it was an invaluable resource in working out the how, why, what and where of the drama as the story unfolded.

My as yet untitled book, still in the planning, has brought me back to a time in Irish history that shaped our national destiny in many ways.  The mass emigration from these shores was just the beginning.  As the Irish settled in far off lands, in the United States and Australia, as well as closer to home in the UK, it was just the beginning of countless waves of migration, each time our little island faced extreme hardship.  To this day, we lose many of our brightest young talent to far off lands.

Back in the 1800’s the decision to migrate was not born out of anything other than necessity.   Young men and women, boarded ships to sail across oceans that they knew held out no more than the barest prospect of hope.  Empty handed, hungry bellied, determined to save their own life and the lives of their children, the desperate turned their faces away and many never even made it alive to their destination.  Of those that did, many more died from disease, poverty and hunger, often falling foul of the land and people they reached out to for salvation.

I have blogged so often about how emotional I am as a writer.  Perhaps I was never as emotional as when writing Little Big Boy. It was a colossal, painful, emotionally charged challenge that took quite a lot from me, but  that level of intensity paid dividends when it came to the end product.

It is important for me to find that connection to my characters and in a sad and unexpected way, I have watched the new wretched and poor, cross seas and entire countries in a desperate bid for a better life and in some cases just to survive.  I don’t pontificate.  It is not for me. My passion is my writing and I am stealing the pain of others to connect to my work.   Now as back then, there are people intent on profiteering from the pain, others determined to deny those straying souls in mass migration, for personal or political reasons.  Sometimes out of fear, ignorance, loathing or some pre-determined logic.

I am not judgemental. I cannot afford to be.  Like I say, I am as guilty as the next man, perhaps more so, in doing little when I am not looking away but right at the heart of the pain.   I have an opinion sure, but my opinion will not feed a child hungry and homeless.  My opinion will not stop the overloaded boats capsizing in the Mediterranean.   The Irish navy, valiant as they are in sending rescue boats far from our shores to help, don’t really make up for my personal, or our national inaction.  Who is to say what is right or wrong.  We all have a say, but it is what we do not say that makes us heroes or fools.  More fool me.

I come from a proud land with a deep and dark connection to a similar fate.  We have the history in our songs, stories and blood and perhaps that makes us more guilty than most.  It is all too easy to push aside the personal reality that exists for every face we see on television, night after night.   We are always destined to be blighted by blindness that consumes us, with the overkill of mass tragedy.  I look away. A plane crash in Borneo, carrying only local passengers, seems less shocking than a plane crash in London or New York, but only to those of us bloated on the jingoistic media that tells us what we want to hear. Some children are more precious than others it seems.

So, I steal from the pain.  That’s what I do.  I take it, I swallow it whole and spit it onto my pages, maybe hoping for absolution for my sin of inaction, maybe because that is all I am.  Like I say, it is not for me to say what is right, what is wrong.  I see what I see and I feel what I feel.  Sometimes I feel a little too much and in there lies the truth perhaps.  I have a need to purge myself and I purge to the page.


Max Power’s books include, Darkly Wood, Larry Flynn Bad Blood and Little Big Boy

You can find more details about Max Power’s books here : –

twitter @maxpowerbooks1