Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Tethered Goat

Genre: Espionage Thriller

Author: Nicholas Winer

The words “political thriller” and “aid workers” are not usually found in the same sentence, and moreover they do not tend to raise the sense of bestseller joy that so many publishers and agents crave. That does not mean, however, that those in the business are correct for their way of thinking.

The Tethered Goat is a perfect example of a “write what you know” novel. Nicholas Winer’s time spent as an aid worker comes across in the details of the culture, politics and landscapes of Africa in the late 1980s in a way that only someone who has seen it and lived it can achieve.

The story begins in 1988, finding the main character, Mark Delama travelling to Gambela. Mark is the local director of an aid agency, and his business in Gambela concerns his belief that something is amiss with the food packages being delivered to the rebel army instead of to the refugees it is meant for. This journey leads Mark into the centre of trouble involving corrupted world powers, secrets, lies, murder and torture which endanger both him and his girlfriend.

The story moves along at a fair pace, with Mark being drawn into dealings he knows nothing about but what he is determined to see through. The political intrigue and espionage laden storyline is gripping and certainly detailed enough to hold the attention. What could have been another run of the mill political thriller is enhanced by the depth of insight offered by the author from his personal experience in Africa.

The book offers an aside in the great length it goes to in order to detail the plight of Africa in the late 1980s, ravaged by wars and famines and hindered in its repair by the powers supposed to be in control of the country.

There are a small number of issues with the book, the main one being that although detail does give the book one of its greatest strengths it also leads to one of its weaknesses. Sometimes the same kind of information is brought around again, told in a slightly different way but inevitably it is still the same information. There are also a small number of sections that I had to reread to fully understand, which can hinder the pace of the novel when it is required to return to the same section a few times. Perhaps a little further editing of the text could solve this, which can be one of the benefits of having a large publisher rather than self-publishing. That said, the additional detail does not pad down the story enough to hinder the pace too much and is more a small nit than anything else.

Despite the small niggles, The Tethered Goat is a high class thriller that can stand up along side others in the genre and beat some of the complacent masters of the craft who need nothing more than their name to have their books published. A novel like The Tethered Goat does not have that luxury and has to work to achieve its audience through word of mouth and a lot of luck. I would happily recommend the book for any lover of espionage thrillers, and encourage them to pass on the word to anyone else they believe would enjoy it.
Highly recommended by Anthony Lund, Allbooks Review
Title – The Tethered Goat
Author – Nicholas Winer
Publisher –
ISBN : 978-1-84923-126-8
Jan. 2010

Allbooks Reviews INTERVIEW:

Please state your name and location. (city and State or Province, Country)

Nicholas Winer, I live in a conservation area in south west Spain.

Tell us the title and publisher of your book:

The Tethered Goat published by YouWriteOn

Tell us about yourself:

I lived for 20 years in Africa as an aid worker and since retiring from full time work there I have been doing some short term advisory work back in Africa as well as in South America for aid agencies. I also run a small rural tourism business in the beautiful village where I live with my wife, a few horses, some chickens and a dog.

When was the book released?

The book was released in December 2008

Give us an overview of your book.

It’s a story of espionage and romance in the dark days of Mengistu’s terrifying dictatorship of Ethiopia - during the famous famine of the 1980s. As the last playground of the Cold War, the Horn of Africa was then a heady mix of idealism, war and political terror….much as it is today. Mark, a young aid worker in the tragic famine that decimated Ethiopia, is caught between his idealism, the ruthless oppression of Mengistu’s Stalinesque regime and the cynical games being played by the British and American Embassies. After being briefly arrested by a fat chameleon of a policeman he and his girlfriend Val begin to unearth the sordid tale of a young south Sudanese fighter, arrested and tortured by Ethiopian security officials with the connivance of an insider in the UN. As they explore the murky world of diplomatic intrigue in a war zone Mark finds out too late he’s a pawn in a plot to guarantee the West’s access to Sudan’s oil and the unwitting ally of an unscrupulous Ethiopian dissident.

What inspired you to write this book?

I wanted to say something about those days and about the lives of other people; the people in between Bob Geldof and the starving. So much was written and filmed about the two extremes that little understanding of the life in the middle of the drama managed to get out. The result was the impression of a country that was nothing but starvation, war and celebrity compassion. It’s a typical media sin: the stereotyping of disaster and war.

How is your book different from other books in this genre?

I think its setting and the two protagonists; one an aid worker and one an African policeman looking for a way out of hell do mark it as a new and original story.

Where can people buy your book?

The book is available on Amazon, Waterstones and Barnes and Noble or more easily through my website where more background is available and direct links to the book can be found.

Are you working on another book? If so when do you expect it to be published?

I’m working on a novel about immigration. It’s about a Palestinian girl washed ashore in Spain….. and I’ve no idea when it might be published!

If you self published, what advice can you give to fellow writers?

I was self published in that YouWriteOn offered to publish a limited number of authors for free in 2008. I took them up on the offer, having had my submission accepted. The lack of the editorial support that an agent should give and the publicity that a main stream publisher can provide are real drawbacks for people such as myself who are not writing in instant ‘hit’ categories. If you can get an agent I think its well worth the blood, sweat and tears.

If published traditionally, tell us how you benefited:

I wish I had been.

Can you share one of your marketing successes with us?

Still looking for that elusive deal.

How did you find Allbooks Reviews and what are you hoping for in your relationship with us?

I found you on the internet and I’m hoping that your site generates increased interest in my book. What I most want from this is an agent willing to work with me. Let’s see what comes up.

Was the low cost a surprise? What other things would you like Allbooks Reviews to offer writers?

It’s a great value service and I appreciate that enormously. Would be great if books your reviewers liked could be passed to agents who might be looking for new authors.

Thank you for this interview and best of luck with your book.

Thank you too for this opportunity

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