The Chair Man by Alex Pearl – Book Review

The Chair Man by Alex Pearl – Book Review

The Chair Man by Alex Pearl

The Chair Man

Author – Alex Pearl
Publisher – Fizgig Press
Pages – 366
Released – 15th December 2019
ISBN-13 – 978-1675134948
Format – ebook, paperback, hardcover
Rating – 5 Stars
I received a free copy of this book.
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Michael Hollinghurst is a successful corporate lawyer living a comfortable, suburban life in leafy North West London. But on 7 July 2005, his life is transformed when he steps on a London underground train targeted by Islamist suicide bombers. While most passengers in his carriage are killed, Michael survives the explosion but is confined to a wheelchair as a result.

Coming to terms with his predicament and controlling his own feelings of guilt as a survivor conspire to push him in a direction that is out of character and a tad reckless. In a quest to seek retribution, he resorts to embracing the internet and posing as a radical Islamist in order to snare potential perpetrators.

Much to his surprise, his shambolic scheme yields results and is brought to the attention of both GCHQ and a terrorist cell. But before long, dark forces begin to gather and close in on him. There is seemingly no way out for Michael Hollinghurst. He has become, quite literally, a sitting target.

Review by George

Michael Hollinghurst is a solicitor with a comfortable life that many would envy. All that changes, though, when a terrorist bomb explodes on the train as he commutes to work. Michael is one of the lucky ones; he survives the blast. But he doesn’t feel lucky. He learns he’ll be in a wheelchair—a chair man—for the rest of his life, and he has the usual struggle with survivor’s guilt. The topper comes when his wife picks the day he receives his first wheelchair to announce she’s leaving him.

With the help of his daughter, Natasha, his Filipina carer, Annie, and a specially trained Labrador named Ziggy, Michael begins to put his life back together. His savings are such that there is no need for him to return to work. But with a lot of time on his hands, Michael begins to devise a plan to extract revenge on the people responsible for the bomb. He sets out to lure Islamic terrorists into a trap.

His efforts are amateurish but, surprisingly, they bear fruit when Mohammed, a radical Muslim responds. However, Mohammed is not the only one to notice. Soon GCHQ has Michael arrested as a potential terrorist. And the terrorist cell Mohammed contacts soon sorts out what Michael is up to and comes after him—and his family!

The Chair Man tells a single story from the perspective of the different people in it. Naturally, Michael is the central voice, but narration also includes the viewpoints of many other characters. Switching viewpoints can make a story difficult to follow. But in this case, the author uses a deft touch, and the multiple views enhance the narrative. By the time the reader reaches the climax, they will understand the characters’ motivations and actions quite well.

The story starts somewhat slowly; after all, there is a lot of background to present. But once it gets going, things heat up and move toward a page-turning, unexpected finish. There is no mystery to The Chair Man, it is a straight-up thriller, but it is more than just action. It has a cerebral tone that gets readers to look beneath the surface to really understand the actors in the story. If you like a good brainy thriller, you should enjoy The Chair Man.

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Author Info

Alex Pearl the chair man

Back in the distant mists of time, Alex spent three years at art college in Maidstone; a college that David Hockney once taught at, and later described in a piece for The Sunday Times as the ‘most miserable’ episode of his life. Here, Alex was responsible for producing – among other things – the college’s first theatrical production in which the lead character accidentally caught fire. Following college, he found employment in the advertising industry as a copywriter. He has turned to writing fiction in the twilight years of his writing career.

His novella, ‘Sleeping with the Blackbirds’ – a black, comic urban fantasy, was initially written for his children in 2011 and published by PenPress. It has since become a Kindle bestseller in the US.

In 2014 his short story, ‘Scared to Death’ – the fictionalised account of the first British serviceman to be executed for cowardice during the First World War, was published in an anthology (‘The Clock Struck War’) by Mardibooks along with 22 other short stories to mark the centenary of the Great War.

Alex’s psychological thriller, ‘The Chair Man’ set in London following the terrorist attack in 2005 was published as an e-book by Fizgig Press in 2019 and as a paperback in 2020. It is his first full-length novel.

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