Book Review: Blast Radius by R.L. McKinney


This review was written for and first posted on the Army Rumour Service website, www.arrse.co.uk and appears here thanks to their kind permission.

Sean McNicol is an ex-Marine Sergeant who has been discharged after an IED in Afghanistan left him partially deafened and with post-traumatic stress disorder. Having returned to his childhood home in the Scottish borders south of Edinburgh he is confronted by the remnants of his tough upbringing while fighting the demons arising from his military experiences since leaving. This charming novel describes his journey to redemption or desolation.

The acid test of any book is whether the first page grabs you. I picked this up and found myself into the third chapter before I realised it. The prose is light, the descriptions evocative and the dialogue convincing and the plot beguiling. While the story inevitably involves some disturbing elements the book is a joy to read.

There are a couple of niggles. Inevitably the dialogue creates the challenge of dealing with dialect words and phonetic spelling of strong accents. On the whole the author achieves this well, though I remain flummoxed be the meaning of a couple of words. I have never heard a Marine refer to the Corps as the RMC. That aside, the military parts are well written and entirely believable, for which the author should be commended.

There is really nothing more to be said. This is a lovely book which deals with a challenging subject sympathetically but objectively. I look forward to hear next work.

Buy it and enjoy.

Five out of Five.