Wednesday 9 January 2013


From a double cop-killing on the frozen streets of Minnesota to the burning sands of Mogadishu, Somali pirates and a brutal civil war, All The Young Warriors is an epic thriller spanning continents and cultures.
Murder, warfare, piracy, love, betrayal and revenge – this is a white-knuckle ride for fans of James Lee Burke (the Dave Robicheaux series), Richard Price (Lush Life) and Michael Connelly (the Harry Bosch series).

"a brilliant book, possibly the best novel of the year."
– Les Edgerton

Winner of the 2012 Spinetingler Award for Best Novel: Rising Star

The story…

When two of the Twin Cities' “Lost Boys” — young Somali men drafted to fight for terrorists back in the homeland — kill a pair of cops on his home turf, detective Ray Bleeker is left devastated. One of the dead cops was his girlfriend.

The investigation grinds to a halt when he discovers that the young murderers have fled to Somalia to fight in the rebel army. He's at his wits' end until the father of one of the boys, an ex-gang leader called Mustafa, comes looking for answers. Bleeker and Mustafa form an uneasy alliance, teaming up to help bring the boys back home.

But little do they know what Somalia has in store for them.

I've read a few of Neil Smith's books previously; Psychosomatic, The Drummer and most recently the slightly disappointing Yellow Medecine - albeit a few years ago now. After that disappointment, I've steered clear of his subsequent books until now - if this book is indicative of his latest output, it's been my loss.

From the off Smith grabbed my attention and never let it go. The first scene has 2 cops hauling over a couple of Somali-American boys driving erratically in the snow. The encounter ends badly for the cops, one of them the pregnant girlfriend of Bleeker another cop.

The Somalian boys, Adem – a reluctant accomplice, in way over his head; and Jibriil – now a cold-stone killer, flee the scene and shortly afterwards the country. Having been recently “educated” and steered towards the more radical extremist side of their Muslim faith, their end destination of Mogadishu, Somalia sees them take up arms in the struggle to establish Sharia law.
The action splits between Minnesota and a vengeful Bleeker, seeking answers and retribution in blood and the bleak, impoverished capital of Somalia where casual violence and death in the name of Islam is the norm.

Bleeker’s quest has him crossing swords with Mustafa  - Adem’s reformed, ex- gang-banger father, also hunting his son and some answers. These two form an uneasy alliance in the hunt for the long gone killer(s).
Meanwhile in Somalia, Jibriil actively embraces the struggle and thrives in the chaotic, African cess-pit whilst Adem questions his faith and the path he has meekly embraced. The two friends; initially bound together travel ever-diverging paths.   

The contrast between the snow and icy Minnesotan landscape and the heat-soaked African capital added to my enjoyment. Throw in a mix of likeable and believable characters, with a diversity of backgrounds and histories. Add to the plot the dynamics of a young, armed, angry, impoverished and radical population. Chuck in a bit of civil war, cross-border terror and a healthy dose of Somalian piracy, interspersed with black-ops American fixers, BBC reporters and a few out-of-depth aid workers.
If you get the mix exactly right; character, setting, plot and motivation and can skilfully blend graphic, but never gratuitous violence, including death and torture, with love, loss and family loyalties you may end up with a book as rewarding and fantastic as this one.

Probably not going to be everyone’s cup of tea, there’s no locked room mystery, no little old sleuthing pensioner ladies and there’s a distinct lack of cats, but for me it was bang on and ticked every box.
If I wasn’t labouring under a deluge of un-read books already, and a fanciful new year’s resolution to limit my new book acquisitions to 10% of what I read, I’d be on-line ordering more Anthony Neil Smith today.  I’ll have to make do with adding Hotdoggin’ and Choke On Your Lies to my wishlist.

5 from 5 – and an early contender for book of the month.
I bought this last year as a kindle read on Amazon-UK.

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