Review book Cab Ride to Crime
by Nailsea writer Stephen Ford
What do you do when a man you meet in the pub asks you to read his latest book and tells you he will welcome any constructive criticism?
Well here goes, my warts and all review.
Cab Ride to Crime is the third book by Nailsea writer Stephen Ford which is independently published by Amazon.
He said: "I write for the fun of it and if it gives someone else pleasure in reading it, that’s the icing on the cake."
The blurb says:
* A barrister and a call girl
* A solicitor with a criminal lover
* A cab driver facing financial ruin
* Two corrupt police officers
And when their paths cross the result is an explosive climax leading to murder.
It sells for £5.99 on Amazon and is currently number 81,137 in the thrillers best sellers list.
Okay so it’s going to be a slow burner but is it a bummer?
Well, I have to say for starters it is a good story and the structure and pace is great.
But, and it is a big but, the text is littered with grammar and spelling mistakes.
And when some of Stephen's male characters express their opinions, well - some anti-feminist sentiments and traits of misogyny are revealed.
Let’s start at the beginning.
Stephen, a former police officer and MD of the largest licensed taxi service outside London, said: "The book was inspired by an incident that happened to me when I was a licensed cab driver.
"I was the one who drove a call girl about and I was the one who was offered a job as a getaway driver!"
There is lots of lust at first sight and some stilted sentences which sound like stage directions – in fact it would probably make a very watchable TV series for crime fans.
What jars most is the juvenile descriptions, women in the principal roles are always ‘attractive’ who wear pencil skirts and white blouses and provocative underwear.
Now I know about the three SSSs (shit, shave and shower) but the characters do the final ablutions aplenty.
I like to learn when I read and this book contains only three words I had never heard of in its 137-pages. Stertorous, Scrotes and azooSpermia (joke capital S) another triple SSS.
It does read like a crime report and the inconsistent printing of clock times is jarring like 5pm, 5 o’clock, 5:00pm, 17.00hrs and five oh clock, I kid you not.
Cab Ride to Crime is not a whodunnit because you know whodunit it is all about whether they will be caught and punished.
The set-up is the best bit however you must suspend all reason at some of the relationships.
You have the tart with a heart whose chosen profession as a prostitute gets blamed on an abusive childhood.
The big wig barrister gets down and dirty with her while his seemingly strait-laced solicitor wife has a one-night stand with Mr Very Big and we aren’t only talking about his dangly bits which don't dangly!
Add a married police motorbike rider who rides another officer in what is called a ‘torrid’ affair.
And then there is a sad cab driver who splashes the cash to ‘attract’ a glamorous dental nurse with a secret gambling addiction.
Stephen said: “I believe that all the characters in the book are believable.
“Many of them are based on people I have met during the varied careers that I chose to follow.”
The road and trail rides work, the cliché sex scenes don’t unless you like reading about firm left or was it right? breasts and rounded bums.
How sexy is this ‘when her fingers reached the elasticated waistband of his joggers…’ and underneath she discovered…wait for it… ‘Lacoste underpants’.
Okay, it actually says ‘Without taking his eyes off her, he removed his tracksuit bottoms and black Lacoste underpants and lay naked besides her’.
Stephen conceded that ‘it may not be the sexiest line every written…’.
I can’t work out whether the brand placements were for fun (there isn’t much fun either between the sheets or the chapters) but the food, drink, motors, clothes and household fittings including a FFS candlestick are all named products. Oh, I forgot and the shower gel!
Apart from the overuse of ‘attractive’ the word ‘whilst’ appears on nearly every page.
The trouble for me was I had no empathy in any of the characters in this boys-only book at bedtime but Stephen does have lots of fans.
The names of Ronnie and Reg for the bad guys, the Black & White St Paul’s café resurrected as Shades of Grey, we are told Lloyd the bouncer is black several times in one short paragraph and the chicken like me at this point is ‘jerked’ off!
As a storyteller Stephen definitely got something but he needs to slow down and concentrate on quality about quantity, sorry.
With three books already published a sequel to Cab Ride to Crime is now in production – I am glad because I really need to know how it all ends.
STOP PRESS: “Just a quick update on my book Cab Ride to Crime. Publishers Austin Macauley have offered me a publishing contract. Might be worth mentioning when you do your review," regards Steve.