The Golden Grave (historical fiction)
1920 – Former British soldier turned republican fighter Liam Mannion is on the run with a price on his head. He looks up with old comrade Ernie Wood, who is being lured back to the battlefields on the Western Front in search of lost gold.
The source of the story is Liam’s former lover, Sabine Durer, who ran a soldier’s bar close to the frontline. Blinded by thoughts of her and buried treasure, Ernie and Liam enlist three other ex-soldiers to find it.
. What starts out as a simple excavation soon becomes much more. Wartime memories and old rivalries are resurrected. The men discover that Sabine has not told them the whole story and that their lives are in danger, but who can you rely on when greed and lust cloud your judgment beneath Flanders’ fields?
The Golden Grave (historical fiction)
David has written four novels and is currently working on his fifth. This is the second novel in his ‘Liam Mannion’ series. David lives in Greystones, Ireland, with his wife and four children.
5.0 out of 5 starsCracking yarn, hits all the right notes: characters, action, intrigue, settingApril 29, 2013
By Scott Whitmore
Review is based on a copy of the novel provided by the author for that purpose.
What would it take to convince a group of British ex-servicemen to return to the killing fields of Flanders after the Great War? The very location where, just two years earlier, they had endured a hellish, kill-or-be-killed existence in the trenches, knee-deep in stinking mud, senses assaulted by the pounding of artillery, and surrounded by the dead — many whose bodies were violently torn apart by shells and bullets, taking part in futile mass charges into spitting machine guns, choking on mustard gas.
What would it take? Why, gold of course. Enough of the precious metal to set a man up for a lifetime of luxury, enough to make him forget the horrors he experienced — and continues to live through in heart-stopping nightmares — in the very same clay he’ll have to dig through to recover that gold.
In “The Golden Grave,” David Lawlor (@LawlorDavid) has once again written a cracking yarn set during the post-war period, filled with exciting action, intrigue and well-drawn characters led by Liam Mannion, the protagonist of the author’s debut novel, “Tan” (see my review).
Liam, who is on the run from the British after his actions as a member of the Irish Republican Army, and his mates embark on the adventure at the behest of Sabine, a stunning temptress who ran a bar behind the lines where British soldiers would go to enjoy a brief respite from the mayhem of the front. Many a man had his eye on Sabine, and she was more than happy to encourage their interest while selling them beer and cigarettes.
Sabine’s a survivor who just happens to know about a shipment of gold that went missing in the aftermath of the British offensive on Messines Ridge, which has been called “the greatest mining attack” in history. Nineteen large mines were detonated within seconds of each other along a narrow front, temporarily collapsing German resistance as well as the bunker hiding the gold.
There are several sub-plots in play and Mr. Lawlor does an exceptional job keeping the reader in suspense, never giving too much away while at the same time letting us know things are not what they seem. Although the pace of the story moves smoothly, the truth is revealed slowly, to great effect, and there are more than a few surprises in store right up to the end.
The author sets a wonderful scene, especially in the ruined battlefield. Two years after the war life is returning to normal, but the scars are never far from view: flowers bloom around shell holes and livestock graze in fields lined by trenches choking with skeletal bodies and discarded war equipment. The war also left indelible marks on the men who fought it, from the aforementioned nightmares to other, more serious behaviors. As he did in “Tan,” Mr. Lawlor explores the emotional cost of the Great War, which for many men was both the greatest and most exciting undertaking of their lives and the most horrible.
“The Golden Grave” is a deeply satisfying story that hits all the right marks: action, adventure, plot twists and surprises, great setting, a bit of romance and memorable characters. I loved it and recommend it wholeheartedly. I became a fan of Mr. Lawlor after reading “Tan,” and hope he keeps writing stories like that and “The Golden Grave.” For more from him, check out his blog, HistoryWithATwist.wordpress.com.
5.0 out of 5 starsA James Bond-type thrillerMay 28, 2013
In THE GOLDEN GRAVE, David Lawlor tells a “can’t put it down” story wrapped in a fascinating period of history. In this story, Irishman Liam Mannion and several of his war buddies return to the French countryside where they’d only recently fought in the deadly trenches during WWI. It had not occurred to me that years after fighting ended, there would still be teams of people out recovering bodies from those battlefields. Getting my head around that idea alone made the war and the aftermath as vivid as anything else Lawlor could have written. Add in the likelihood of encountering canisters of mustard gas and other unexploded ordinance, and the men are literally taking their lives in their hands again as they pursue the treasure that brought them there.
As he did in TAN, the first novel in this series, Lawlor created complex male and female characters I loved and others I loved to hate. But don’t get too attached. As in war, there is no assurance any of the characters in this novel will make it out of Flanders Fields alive. Plot twists and action as fast paced as anything you’ll find in a James Bond movie kept me on my toes. In fact, as I read, I could easily imagine Liam Mannion as James Bond.
THE GOLDEN GRAVE is a sequel that can be read independently, though I don’t recommend it. TAN is another great story and it provides important backstory for Mannion. If you enjoy historical action adventure, after you read Lawlor’s novels, you’ll be as ready as I am for the third book in this series.