Thriller of the Month – Dark Fragments, by Rob Sinclair

An unreliable narrator isn’t often used in a thriller, perhaps because it requires a great deal of skill to keep a reader engaged once it’s clear the “hero” is anything but. John Grisham did it well in “The Racketeer”. Now British writer Rob Sinclair joins him with “Dark Fragments”.

Dark Fragments” is a departure for Sinclair, who has previously written tense third person spy thrillers about secret agent Carl Logan. This, his first book for crime publisher Bloodhound, is told in the first person by Ben Stephens. At first, management consultant Ben seems a nice, ordinary guy. He adores his children and his wife. Yes, he’s down in the dumps, but who wouldn’t be in his situation? After all, he’s being threatened by gangsters over a soured business deal, he’s haunted by the unsolved murder of his first wife, and his career has plateaued. We can all imagine struggling with that kind of baggage.

This is where Rob Sinclair is very clever. Having made us sympathise with the man, perhaps even identify with him, alarm bells ring as Ben takes extreme actions to solve his problems. Rash and impulsive, he resorts to infidelity and violence, all the while seeing himself as a victim. The level of self-justification is such that the dramatic finale of the book is easy to believe, although it still comes as a surprise.

Sinclair’s style is pacy, energetic and liberally punctuated with cliff hangers. In consequence, “Dark Fragments” is a quick read, which leaves the lingering feeling that the ordinary people you meet every day may not be quite what they seem.

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Dark Fragments” is set in Birmingham, England. I also write crime thrillers that are (at least partly) set in the city and I very much enjoyed Rob Sinclair’s descriptions of its swanky and seedy areas. Do you like to read about places you know? Email me at aaabbottstories[at]gmail.com.

Why dyslexia doesn’t stop you reading…

My grandfather was a telecoms troubleshooter. As a young Englishman in the early 20th century, he travelled the world, supervising the laying of cables across the sea, then keeping the signal crystal-clear after that. If equipment was broken, he’d fix it himself. His work took him to New York, Odessa and Persia, in ships and steam trains and a Model T Ford.

Despite his can-do attitude and undeniable skills, he never picked up a book. My grandfather was dyslexic; reading and writing was a struggle for him. He wasn’t alone, of course. Although I dodged that bullet myself (to compensate, fate decreed I’d be rubbish at DIY), dyslexia features in every generation of my family. In fact, 10% of Britons are dyslexic.

It isn’t that hard to produce a dyslexia-friendly book, but it costs more than a traditional paperback. That’s because, with larger letters and more space between the lines, the page count zooms up dramatically. Perhaps that’s why nobody has published fiction for adults with dyslexia – until now. Perfect City Press has produced new editions of my crime thriller, The Bride’s Trail, and its sequel, The Vodka Trail. Spot the difference! 

The Vodka Trail - Page 1 in traditional and dyslexia-friendly formats

The Vodka Trail – Page 1 in traditional and dyslexia-friendly formats

They’re also an option for older readers and anyone with visual stress – we’ve used a large sized sans serif font, lots of space, and cream paper, and they’re still affordable at £16.99. That compares with £7.99 for the traditional paperbacks and £1.99 for the e-books.

E-books are a great alternative, of course. You can adjust the style and size of the font, and sometimes the colour of the background. But for me, nothing beats a good old-fashioned paperback – and I suspect dear old Grandad would finally agree!

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I’m a British crime thriller writer. I’ve written a variety of short stories, and four full-length thrillers sizzling with suspense, sex, love and death. My latest, The Bride’s Trail and The Vodka Trail, are available in e-book, traditional paperback and dyslexia-friendly paperback editions through a variety of bookstores and online retailers.