Official Review: The Coal'd War by James Alan Thompson

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Emie Cuevas
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Official Review: The Coal'd War by James Alan Thompson

Post by Emie Cuevas » 05 Mar 2018, 04:39

[Following is an official review of "The Coal'd War" by James Alan Thompson.]
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3 out of 4 stars
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The Russians have a plot to convert England into a communist state. This is the premise of a book called The Coal’d War: Fear, Desperation, Treachery and Salvation by James Alan Thompson. This is a spy novel, based in Russia, Poland and England, set in the 1980’s. The Story is slow moving at first, but it ends with a high-octane finale.

The mining industries arrange a foreign exchange program. This sends some British miners to Poland and some Polish miners came to England to learn about each others methods. Gennardy is the name of the interpreter that traveled with the miners from Poland. During their time in the UK, the Polish miners stayed in the homes of some of the English miners. Gennardy stayed with Tony Harthill, a union representative of the CMU (Coal Miners Union).

After returning to Poland, Gennardy is asked to be the standby interpreter at a meeting, where they are discussing turning the UK into a communist state. The opening move is a strike of the CMU. He immediately recognizes the men in the meeting, but as he is the standby, they ignore him.

Worried for his life, Gennardy seeks out some British intelligence operatives and tells them what he overheard. They tell him they will provide asylum and a life in England, if he can provide proof. The British operatives tell their boss, Goodchild, about what they had heard, not realizing that he was a double agent. Upon being informed of this meeting, Goodchild tells the head of the KGB, Plakinov, who immediately tries to capture and interrogate Gennardy.

As Gennardy had approached Li, Plakinov’s assistant, in trying to get the proof he needs. This incriminates, and so they have to go on the run together. Grabbing what information they can, they try to escape to the UK and the one man that Gennardy trusts, Tony Harthill. The Russians, worried about what information they have stolen getting out, launch a full-scale search for them. Will they make it there? Will the information they have be enough to save them? You’ll only find out by reading it.

In the beginning of the story, Thompson goes into a lot of detail about the strike. This makes the first part of the story quite stodgy to read. When he starts alternating between the CMU strike action with the actions of the Russians and their quarry, the pace of the story picks up and it flows more freely.

The part I loved most about the story was where Gennardy and Li talked about his experiences while he was in the UK. Using this to keep themselves motivated. As my boyfriend is from the UK, I found this especially poignant, as I’d like to go there and experience these things for myself.

The book contains many characters of many nationalities. I found that they all had very distinctive personalities. They all acted in a way that was true to themselves, with the exception of one scene. During this scene one young lady did the complete opposite of what I expected her to do. I found this a bit of a stretch just to throw in a plot twist. I found the plot very straightforward, though I do have to say the ending took me by surprise, as I wasn’t sure who would win out in the end. The end though is definitely an end, so this can be read as a standalone book. There is plenty of option available though if the author decides he wants to write a sequel.

I read the book on my kindle. The formatting in this version leaves a lot to be desired. There are half blank pages, paragraph indents in the middle of sentences, some parts were right justified, etc. All this made it challenge to read. Add to that some punctuation mistakes and extra words here and there, and I can only give this a rating of 3 out of 4 stars, though the story itself merited Four. The story contains some violence and sexual references, though nothing overly graphic, so I don’t think anyone should be able to take offence. The book itself would probably be well acceptable to anyone interested in either the cold war or spy novels.

The Coal'd War
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Post by kandscreeley » 11 Mar 2018, 16:18

The errors don't sound too horrible. It's an interesting story. A spy thriller with Russia trying to make England communist. I'll consider this one for a future date. Thanks!
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Post by DancingLady » 11 Mar 2018, 16:52

Thank you for giving us a heads up about the Kindle formatting. I've had my own difficult experiences with poorly formatted books and it can really disrupt the reading experience. I would still be interested in this story if I had the time. Spy novels are one of the genres I really like. Maybe I'll check it out if my library get the audio version someday.

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Post by RebeccasReading » 11 Mar 2018, 21:48

The clever title of this book drew me in. Based on your review, it sounds like a book I'd love to read!

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Post by Sahani Nimandra » 11 Mar 2018, 22:26

Sounds like a cat and a mouse game. This reminded me of a book I know strangers on a bridge. Thank you for sharing this book, it sounds a delight!
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Post by Jkhorner » 12 Mar 2018, 11:57

Just reading the summary had me scratching my head, so I'm sure the book itself is appropriately confusing for a spy novel! Thanks for the honest review and for reading through the stodgy parts!

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Post by cristinaro » 12 Mar 2018, 13:47

I like the fact that the setting changes from Russia to Poland or England. In the good tradition of spy novels, the plot seems complex and interesting. Thank you for your review!
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Post by ViziVoir » 20 Mar 2018, 20:54

I read mostly on my Kindle nowadays, so formatting errors that glaring are a real turn-off for me. That's to say nothing of the violence and sex, which I generally prefer to avoid, despite how prevalent they are in a lot of literature.

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Post by gali » 08 Apr 2018, 06:08

A book revolving around a Russians plot to convert England into a communist state sounds interesting, but it isn't for me. It is good that the book contains many nationalities, as it enriches the tale. Too bad about the technical errors, the slow pace, and the formatting issues. I am not fond of spy books, but I am glad you enjoyed the book despite its flaws. Thank you for the review!
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Post by briellejee » 08 Apr 2018, 06:13

Nice review! However, based on the summary you've given, it didn't sell out to me. If i have some time, maybe I'll read it. Thanks though.

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Post by rusyalana » 08 Apr 2018, 06:14

I like thrillers and according to the review this book seem to be pretty interesting and fast-paced enough to grab the reader's attention till the very end of the book. Unfortunately, I hate politics and as the book is about cold war and spies, I'll pass. Still congratulations on becoming BOTD! I'm sure the book will find it's reader.

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Post by kwame1977 » 08 Apr 2018, 06:31

I like anything that is war especially when it involves the Military. The reviewer has done a good job by reviewing such a book. I know its not easy. Thanks for this review.

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Post by Sanyesto » 08 Apr 2018, 06:43

Having read the sample and your review makes me want to actually read more of the book. I would like to know what really happens to Gennardy. It definitely is a great novel as the choice of words are easy to follow despite the Kindle formatting flaws that you've highlighted.

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Post by chennings56 » 08 Apr 2018, 06:55

Although I like spy novels it sounds like this one has a lot of characters and for me that can get too confusing and makes it a slow read trying to remember who they are and where they come from. I might start to read it but might not get it finished if it's not fast moving and keeps my attention. Thanks for the review.

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Post by Strangerthanfiction » 08 Apr 2018, 07:09

Nice review. This sounds like it might be an interesting read for fans of spy novels with political intrigue and a bit of historical fiction surrounding the cold war in the 1980’s. Thanks so much for sharing.

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