25 October 2021

The Tests


By Robert W Kirby
Psychological Thriller | Thriller

My Review

In the summer of 1988, Alex Clayton is desperate to become accepted into Sheryl Denton's group of friends. But to join he has to pass a series of initiation tests. When something terrible happens, Alex's life is changed forever. Three decades later he's still haunted by events of that summer. He arranges a reunion to discover exactly what happened back then and finally put the past behind him.      

With a great plot and excellent writing, I was pleasantly surprised by how good this book is. The characterisation is fantastic and I really do believe the author captured the essence of the 1980s perfectly. 

However, I was disappointed to find uses of a 'certain word' that is no longer socially acceptable. Yes, it was used in the '80s (I was an '80s teenager) but I firmly believe there's no place for it now. I'm sure an alternative could have been found without affecting the authenticity of the time period. Enough said and moving swiftly onwards . . .

I became fully invested in the lives of these people. The story is violent and brutal but this is counterbalanced nicely with moments of reflection and 'what could have been'. Considering this is the author's debut novel, I was highly impressed. A superb, exciting read!        

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

Paperback: 381 pages
Publisher: Independently published (23rd June 2021)
ISBN-13: 979-8525672994

The Blurb

At the start of the summer of ‘88, Alex Clayton was desperate to find his place in the world. Constantly bullied and reeling from the recent loss of his mum, he sought friendship from local girl Sheryl Denton, and her colourful group of friends, Ben, Janette, Corkscrew and Gavin. But to join their group, Alex first needed to undertake four notorious initiation trials, known as the tests.

That year changed everything for Alex and shaped his entire life. The events that unfolded during that long summer would haunt the group forever.

Now, over three decades later, and living in Edinburgh, with his wife, Natalie, Alex’s past jeopardises his marriage when he has memory dreams that are so intense, that Natalie becomes concerned her husband is hiding a secret about his childhood.

Alex arranges a reunion with the old group, and travels back to his hometown in Kent, to piece together the events of ‘88. He must face his past, and face Gavin, who is a tormented soul, with nothing to lose. Gavin harbours a deep hatred for Alex and holds him responsible for a tragedy that occurred when they were kids.

Whilst Alex searches for answers, so too does Natalie, as she becomes hellbent on finding out what her husband is hiding.

As Alex and the group revisit moments from their past, dark secrets come to light, old feuds reignite, and things spiral out of control. It soon becomes clear that everything may not have happened as Alex remembered, and the truth about what happened will lead to total devastation for all those involved.

The Author - Robert W Kirby

I was born in 1979 and live in Kent with my wife and children. I ran a private investigation agency for over fifteen years; dealing in cases that involved breach of contract claims, commercial debt recovery, and process serving. My agency also specialised in people tracing, so much of my work revolved around tracking down debtors, dealing in adoption matters and locating missing persons.

Since 2014, I have worked self-employed in the pet care industry, and I am a keen trail runner, mountain biker and kayaker.

I've had a huge passion for screenwriting for many years and started writing novels during the first lockdown. My first novel, The Tests, available on Amazon, was based on a spec screenplay that I originally wrote back in 2009.

​My second novel, The Feud on Dead Lane, a dark gritty crime thriller, will be available in early 2022.

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