28 April 2021

Better To Die


By Steve Smith
Historical Fiction | War & Military | Thriller

My Review

In 1996 a British Army border post known as 'Hotel 55' comes under attack from the IRA. Sergeant Nick Adair loses his life bravely protecting a fellow soldier. But during the aftermath eyewitnesses claim Adair was a coward and had died while hiding inside a steel locker. 

Fast forward to 2021 and Sergeant Adair's son Jack has left the French Foreign Legion to pursue a career as a Sandhurst officer. He's determined to follow in his father's footsteps by joining the elite King's Royal Rangers. However, competition is stiff and Jack is overshadowed by his father's cowardly reputation.

During training Jack ruffles the feathers of cadet Vyvyan Phillips, who is the younger son of General Phillips — the same General Phillips who was present during the 1996 attack on Hotel 55 and decorated for his heroics that day. But was Phillips' eyewitness statement a truthful account or did he lie to protect his own reputation and further his career? Has there been a cover-up lasting twenty-five-years and if so, can it be proven?.....

I'll be totally honest here and admit that military books aren't usually my thing. However, I'm so pleased I took a chance because this time it came up trumps. The author is a former British Army officer who really knows his stuff. His expert knowledge is unparalleled and left me in awe. What an amazing career he must have had and it was a privilege to be given a glimpse into army life, albeit fictional, through the characters in this book.

Due to being outside my normal reading comfort zone, it took a little while to adjust and connect with the story. I was unsure if this was something I was going to enjoy or whether it would be a slog. I really needn't have worried — the characters were fully developed and the writing was superb. I was soon eagerly turning pages and fully immersed. The story flowed exceptionally well and I became invested in Jack's life and career. What a great read! I highly recommend it. 

Book Source: Review copy from the author
My Rating ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Paperback: 380 pages
Publisher: James Boschert Publishing LLC (2021)

The Blurb

1996: Sergeant Nick Adair defends British Army border post "Hotel 55" from being overrun by the IRA, but the only witnesses to his bravery tell a different tale, with themselves as heroes and Adair castigated as a coward. 

2021: After a five-year stint with the French Foreign Legion, Jack Adair is determined to have a career as a Sandhurst officer, preferably in his father's old regiment, the King's Royal Rangers. But the KRR considers itself elite, professionally and socially, with scant room for a rough diamond like Adair. Cadet Vyvyan Phillips is more the thing: younger son of General Phillips, the decorated hero of the Hotel 55 incident. The General's reputation shines so brightly, it blinds everyone but Jack to Vyvyan's incompetence.

There is far more to the murky events connected to Hotel 55 but over time they have been either suppressed or ignored. The rivalry between Adair and Phillips extends beyond the confines of training and field command. Both take a keen interest in fellow officer Gemma Page, of Intel Corps. And then the battalion deploys to Gaziantep.

The Author

Steve Smith MBE is a former British Army officer who specialised in logistics, intelligence, and high-threat, counter-terrorist, bomb disposal. He served on operations in Northern Ireland, Kosovo and Iraq, and deployed on short term missions to a number of other hotspots around the world.

On leaving the Army as a colonel, Steve became involved in international aid and development. As CEO/board member of several charities, he has overseen programmes to reduce armed violence, support refugees, and safeguard children in conflict zones, in Africa and the Middle East.

He was appointed MBE for his work in Northern Ireland.

Author Links: Goodreads

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