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If I Never by Gary William Murning

If I Never by Gary William MurningGary William Murning’s debut novel If I Never which was published in 2009, is set across a mixture of urban and rural locations mainly in in the environs of North Yorkshire. The Middlesbrough based author has used his obvious local knowledge to good effect as a backdrop to a plot-line bursting with suspense.

Anyone who has ever visited this beautiful corner of the United Kingdom will gain added pleasure from trying to second guess some of the towns, villages and other locations, whose names the author has changed to protect the innocent!

Read on for a full review….

-- If I Never by Gary William Murning a Review by Des Greene --
Taken at face value, I suppose it would be fair to label If I Never as a mystery and suspense novel, but the author manages to weave in a number of other themes and perspectives which make this book altogether much more difficult to pigeon-hole.

The two central characters, Price and Tara, could both be described as social misfits, but for widely differing reasons. Price is one of those guys whose life never seems to have quite got started, and he is now just marking time in bed-sit land. Tara, well she has her own issues, but I’m afraid you’ll have to read the book to discover them for yourself.

Their getting together rather reminded me of a line from that old Wreckless Eric tune – “When I was a young boy, my momma said to me, there’s only one girl in the world for you, and she probably lives in Tahiti”. Both can barely believe their good fortune, and were it not for a fly in the ointment, they would no doubt both live happily ever after.

That fly in the ointment goes by the name of George Ruiz; a lifelong buddy of Price’s (and also Tara’s cousin) he has a past history of dragging Price into whatever piece of trouble he gets himself into. True to form, it is George’s murky past which eventually sucks them into a downward spiral of trouble and danger.

The overall dark tone of the book is lifted by the quick-fire wise-cracking nature of the dialogue between the characters; and whilst this is not always the way of real-life conversation, the humour is often very skillfully delivered and does help to lighten the proceedings. In many ways I found this edge of humour a little like some of Leslie Thomas’ old novels – Dangerous Davies possibly?

One of the biggest tests of a novel such as this, is how well the author manages to gather together all the loose ends, whilst maintaining the suspense and hopefully delivering that all important satisfying finale. Nothing to worry about on that score, all the questions are resolved, but you are kept on the edge of your seat until the last page bar the epilogue.

The only minor gripe I had with the book was that the proof-reading could have been somewhat more thorough. Not exactly littered with mistakes, but certainly enough to draw the odd grimace or two. That aside, If I Never was a very gripping read from start to finish, with some really thought provoking elements thrown into the mix for good measure.

A commendable first novel for Gary William Murning; I’m certainly looking forward to seeing if he has further adventures in store for Price, Tara and the awful George Ruiz.

Already read If I Never? What did you think of it? Please post a comment below, Novel Suggestions is always keen to hear your opinions.

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