3 out of 4 stars
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Mean Mike, the eldest among many siblings, a bully in nature and he is Blacksmith in trade. Nothing Brown, a small built fellow (it was the reason for his nick name), is a Quaker. Old Man Magee is an old drunkard who is clever in playing instruments and singing. Seph is a former bartender. Jacque is a fellow of a mixed breed, who is an experienced trader. Though these fellows had many differences, they had one thing in common; the desire to seek for gold. So they join the gold hunt in the Fraser Canyon. Despite that gold is limited, the number of the gold seekers and their greed is unlimited. Along with all the other greedy gold seekers, will this group have a journey like eating a pie or like a journey through the hell?
The Deadly Five by Raymond Maher is a historical fiction woven around the famous event of the Fraser Canyon gold rush, which occurred in the late 1850s. Since my copy came as a Kindle version, I could not get an exact page count. But it is not a very lengthy read and it is divided into 36 short chapters. The story is told in the first person narrative, mostly by Nothing Brown and at some places by the rest of the group. The author has been kind enough to give the reader an insight regarding the historical content by including an introduction at the very beginning of the book. There are noteworthy points that I liked as well as disliked about this book. I will list them down, starting with the good ones.
The entire book is written in spoken language. This is reasonable since the story is being told by one of the group members. This makes the book simpler as well as an easy read. The author has adopted to this narrative style very well, and he has kept the descriptions in a very plain manner. It would have been unrealistic if a narration included abundant background details as in a written description. But the author has included enough details to keep the adventurous quality of the book. Most of the points in the story are rationalized, for an example like how the group met each other in their journey in various occasions and situations. And also he has not attempted to push action into the story by force, but has allowed action to be a part of the flow. All the abusive words, fights and killings felt like that they were necessary in those occasions. The book was professionally edited, and I found only two errors through the whole read.
There are few aspects that I did not like about the book. The details felt like lacking when it came to action. The fights, hunts and the killings were too quick and too plain. The author could have added more salt to those scenes. Maybe he might have tried to show the nature of the narrator through that as well, since the main speaker was a Quaker who was not very fond of harming others. But the reader could feel the action more if it was more descriptive. The book lost its pace towards the end of the book. On the latter parts the author has given more attention to the religious matters of Nothing Brown, which was enough for me to lose interest by a bit. But I won’t say that I struggled to finish the book.
Having said all the above. I would like to rate this with 3 out of 4 stars. The reduction of a star is for the points that I disliked about the book. I would like to recommend this book to the lovers of historical fiction and the adventure lovers. But for the ones who prefer extreme action, as well as who despise blood and gore, it is better to avoid this book since it is not in either of the extremities of having extreme action or having no action at all. There is no sexually explicit content though there is some mentioning related to prostitution and sexually related content. Anyway, it is best suited for a mature audience.
The Deadly Five
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