Overall Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐
“This is our top priority. Find that gardener before it’s too late.”
What a surprise this book turned out to be! As action packed as it was mysterious, this book had so much depth and such a deep, thought-provoking story line. Any story where detectives are solving a mysterious case is an automatic yes from me! The book was a perfect balance of seriousness and humour and the characters were created brilliantly. All these features combined made it a real pleasant story to read. I’m really happy to share my review!
There’s a war being waged between two secret factions. At stake is the heart of democracy itself. The key to victory is a small, seemingly harmless, piece of computer hardware, which in the wrong hands, could bring about a technological Dark Age. The race is on to find it as a trail of death is left in its path.
John Cranston is a gardener. He’s not really interested in global domination, he’d much rather mow a lawn. He’s the current keeper of that harmless looking thing. The problem is – he’s the last person to know.
Meanwhile, Detective Inspector Sutherland and his sidekick Sergeant Bludgeon are working on the mystery of the missing accountants, little knowing that this will lead them into something darker and more sinister, as their paths cross and diverge from the gardener on the run.
What a strong opening scene! The beginning of the book genuinely felt as though I was watching the opening to a Bond film. I quickly got so immersed in the pages, intrigued by a big case of cash and a data card, which seemed to be something of extremely high value to the characters we meet early on. I loved the characters we’re introduced to and how quickly the action-packed scenes unfold. I’m always for a full on opening to a book, and this one gave me everything I wanted to read, and then some! The beginning of the book doesn’t give everything away all at once – it forces us to become curious about a number of things early on, asking questions and predicting outcomes. A very strong start with everything you’d expect from a great mystery/action book. This gave me a positive feeling about what I was about to discover throughout the story!
John Cranston is a fabulous character. He’s a gardener with such a clever mind, and this is portrayed from the first time we meet him. From the action-packed first chapter, things calm down considerably in the chapters that follow, and I loved how John seemed to be a regular guy with a regular job. I couldn’t help thinking about what we were going to learn about this character and what he gets up to later down the line. There is a great sprinkling of humour throughout the book and it was easy to like John as a character. When a meeting with an old friend is planned, John gets much more than just a meal and a beverage. Is he really prepared for this new challenge? This friend, Martin, has a great introduction, and I was really keen to see how the pair worked together. He was an equally interesting character too – the author’s character creation is faultless!
John soon becomes aware that he has a certain ‘something’ that other people want, but what this ‘thing’ is, he doesn’t even know. The only thing he does know at this point is that it is valuable and that those other people thought it was worth killing over! This is something the reader can really start thinking about as the beginning of the story is told, and even though the reader knows what this thing is on a basic level, we don’t know what it will be used for, or just how powerful it is at this stage. The story is very detailed and it’s easy to imagine yourself in a scene. It seems as though no detail is left out which can be a pro or a con to some readers. I did see the positives in this and in my eyes, it just made the story stick in my head much more! We hear more and more about missing people in the area of a particular profession, which really got me thinking more about that data card. What did these things have in common and why were these people disappearing?
“John was at a loss. He’d learned more about Alice in the past fifteen minutes than he had in years.”
The action scenes in the book were great and incredibly well written, forcing readers to really zone in and take in every word. It was impossible not to! John is soon on the run from the people who need that data card, and the scenes of him hiding and escaping from these guys was so nail biting! When he finds out these guys are a Death Squad, things become even more intense. Would they really go to extreme lengths to get what they wanted, even when John has no idea what this important item is? The story soon turns from Bond to Sherlock Holmes as we jump into a mystery with two determined detectives. I loved the mix of genres in the book and they complemented each other well. The story regularly alternates character points of view too which was interesting, and I enjoyed hearing their take on how the story unravels. Would John ever be able to stop running? Will the Death Squad manage to get their hands on that little piece of technology?
Mr Blue and Mr Green, the stalkers that don’t seem to want to leave John alone, always seem to be one step ahead up to a certain point, and we join John as he constantly looks over his shoulder, biding his time. After a while, a bit of good luck comes his way which gets those guys off his back, but it doesn’t stop him from watching his every step. I had a feeling he wasn’t in the clear just yet! As we approach the middle of the story, I particularly enjoyed hearing more about the two detectives going about their work and there was a slight indication of John’s path and their own intertwining. It was very early days at this point, but thinking up my own theories was incredibly entertaining! The author has quite clearly thought this through well, giving the reader so much to think about and ideas to toy with. The book was turning out to be quite the ride.
John soon meets with Agent Marsden, a young woman who seems to understand John’s point of view, but knows about this mysterious ‘package’. Finally, someone who didn’t want to kill him! I really liked this character – a very unlikely, clever and ‘to the point’ kind of person. She states that if this ‘package’ lands in the wrong hands, it will be terrible for everyone. With more questions sprouting in my mind about just how dangerous this thing is, I was eager to find out just what Agent Marsden knows! With yet more danger imminent, John agrees to let her help him, but he has no idea what he’s getting himself in for. The book seems to be so full of action and scenes you just can’t help but mull over. There’s action and mystery left right and centre and the humour is continuous in clever little snippets. The story continues to be enjoyable and entertaining and even though it can be quite heavy in parts, it’s still a very well put together novel I think many others will enjoy.
As the story continues, John begins to change. He learns how to be fighter and the scared old John who always looks over his shoulder slowly begins to melt away as his confidence grows. After all, this confidence and motivation is needed when you have dangerous people watching your every move! A plan is put into place to deliver Midas (you’ll know if you read the book!) and I was finally starting to make some connections with that explosive opening chapter. Pieces of the puzzle were beginning to slot into place, and I knew there was about to be more excitement to come. With so many characters now in the mix, things get more serious as plans are finalised. The author has built up suspense well, keeping the readers interest while the plot unfolds. Would they succeed in their mission? What would happen if something got in their way and their plans failed?
“John thought about running, wondering if a rucksack full of cash could stop a bullet.”
It’s isn’t long before we get a touch of sci-fi (seriously, is there a genre this book doesn’t cover?!) and things begin to heat up. With a new role in a covert organisation, John sees his life change significantly in a way that he never expected. I definitely could not have predicted this either! We see more of that fabulous action we witnessed in the first chapter and the middle of the book is filled with such detail and intrigue which simply can’t be ignored. The author is clearly very talented at what he does, and this is instantly clear when reviewing the story’s plot. He has really perfected a range of genres which I’m quite envious of! From reading this book, I’ve felt a little more motivated to work on some of my own fiction again, and I haven’t felt like this for a while! With the ending of the book drawing to a close, I was hoping a few of my burning questions were answered and I was curious to see how John’s life will continue after this adventure.
John finds himself in a sticky situation with the person he’s tried to avoid for so long, and this particular scene, as well as those which followed, quickly turned into my favourites of the entire book. It was definitely a situation I wouldn’t want to be in! John handles himself very well and his growth from the beginning of the book is really rather admirable. The book is so full on throughout the ending of the book, and it was quite difficult to pause in any one place! The characters all work so well together and even though things are fast paced, I still managed to keep up with what was going on. I would urge other readers to ensure they make the time to process what’s going on and to really take this in – you’ll be rewarded! The excitement and suspense continues to increase as we get nearer and nearer to those final few chapters, but what would John’s fate be?
From crawling through a hole in the floor and attempting to disarm a bomb, to wrestling a guy and putting his fighting skills to good use, John has quite an eventful time as the story draws to a close! I can’t praise the author enough for keeping up such a strong momentum throughout the book and for not letting the story lag behind in any way. Whenever I feel this way about the book, I always think about how extensive the planning stage was for an author and just how many edits it took for a story to be perfect. It always amazes me that authors can stay on track so well like David C Mason has here, and it makes the reading experience so memorable. I was interested to know whether he could keep this up within the final few pages and if the ending would be just as enjoyable as I’d hoped!
I loved how serious, confident and ‘to the point’ John becomes. He begins to be the decision maker in confrontations which was really cool to experience, whereas before, he’d probably cower in fear or even flee! Some of the humour at this stage of the book really got to me – things that are funny to a reader (especially a British reader) but the characters don’t bat an eyelid. I found myself in fits of silent giggles a few times, and it really cheered me up. Cheers David! I really enjoyed reading how the story drew to a close as we see characters working together, a whole load of mysteries solved and the answers to some of those burning questions we’ve been thinking about from the start. I was really rooting for a certain selection of characters at this point, highlighting once again that the author’s character creations have been spot on.
“I think I can tell the difference between military grade spyware and a quantum encryption drive.”
I always find the ending of a book particularly difficult to write about, simply because I don’t want to give anything away for a new reader! What I will say is that we really learn more about the meaning of the book’s title and it’s rounded off in such a satisfying way. We see good news and bad, and even though everything hasn’t gone to plan throughout John’s journey, he’s definitely learned a lot along the way. There are a ton more action scenes before we read the book’s finale – just reading some of these scenes tired me out! I feel like this book is perfect for fans of action and a good mystery, or even for those looking for something with both serious and humourous elements. A solid four star read for me!
Action packed, mysterious and hilarious – what more could you want from a book?! John’s journey was a particularly eventful one in this book as he finds himself dragged into something he really doesn’t want to be a part of. Even so, this made for extremely entertaining reading from my point of view! If you plan on giving this book a try, give yourself enough time to really take in the information – even though the book can be quite heavy in parts, it’s worth it!
A big thank you to the author of this book, David C Mason, for my copy to read and review! You can purchase your own copy of Pandora’s Gardener through Amazon, available on paperback. Follow David over on Twitter for more updates!