Kevin Wignall

"For the Dogs"

(Reviewed by Jana L. Perskie NOV 7, 2004)

"...she was dangerous now and unpredictable. It was in her eyes, the deadness of loss replaced a blinkered determination. He's seen it in other people plenty of times, had extinguished it often enough, and he didn't want to be there to see what it made of her."

Twenty year-old Ella Hatto and her boyfriend Chris are sipping their drinks and people watching in a sidewalk cafe, enjoying the last days of their vacation in Italy. Ella is distracted by the familiar face of an innocuous looking man, sitting a few tables away. She is sure she recognizes him from their stops in both Rome and Florence. Now in Montecatini, not exactly a booming tourist center, the young couple sees the stranger again. Could this be a coincidence?

Suddenly the man becomes agitated, stands, stares directly at Ella, reaches under his jacket and pulls out a gun. Ella is paralyzed with fear as the gunman walks directly toward her, and turns to face the street, shielding her from passersby. She hears gunshots. Two men in the crowd fall to the pavement and a third is about to go down. While a fast-forming crowd mills around the bodies, the stranger grabs Ella's arm and orders the couple to follow him. He threatens to kill them if they don't obey. As the three drive away from the crime scene, the stranger introduces himself. “Probably an attempted kidnap," he says. "I'm Lucas. Mark Hatto, (Ella's father), asked me to watch Ella in case of something like this."

Life, as the bright, innocent Ella knows it, goes downhill from this moment. Attempting to evade further “problems” until arrangements can be made to fly Ella and Chris home, they arrive in Milan where they learn horrific news concerning the Hatto family - news which will forever change Ella's life and irrevocably alter the very core of her being.

For The Dogs starts off with a Bang, (literally), and the momentum just doesn't slow down, not even on the last page. From the powerful, action-packed opening, the reader is hooked by this taut psychological, suspense thriller. Author Kevin Wignall's narrative moves along at a brisk pace toward climatic events that will leave you spellbound...and chilled. My favorite scenes are between Lucas and Ella. Stephen Lucas is one of the most romantic, endearing, cold-blooded contract killers I have met in fiction. He is quite the literary maven, and his love of books is a trait he shares with Ella. Lucas is reading The Nibelungenlied when they meet; Ella is into Jane Austen's Persuasion. The author did not choose these books at random. For The Dogs has something of both the German epic and the English novel in its storyline. The unlikely pair of Lucas and Ella, solitary hit-man and extroverted college girl, form an intense, unusual bond based on their own individual needs and fantasies. She gets a glimpse of his world and wants in. He is trying to get out. He seeks redemption. She is driven by an obsessive need for justice and revenge.  

The book's secondary characters are interesting and quirky, but this story really belongs to Ella and Lucas. The author develops their characters beautifully, and explores their deep and dark sides as well as classically romantic elements.
 
This is a gritty novel about fate, tragic loss and retribution. It is also about reconciliation, renewal and forgiveness. Wignall succeeds in revealing the consequences of removing the human face from violence and death. For The Dogs is a terrific read anyway you look at it. Highly recommended!

  • Amazon readers rating: from 8 reviews

 



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Bibliography: (with links to Amazon.com)

Mercian Trilogy:

 

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About the Author:

author photoKevin Wignall was born in Herentals, Belgium, where his father was stationed as a soldier. After living in Northern Ireland and Germany, the family settled, when he was nine, in a small town in the west of England where he still lives. He graduated with a degree in politics and international relations from Lancaster University. Certain only that he didn't want a regular graduate job after leaving university, he traveled, campaigned, wrote on the environment, and taught English as a foreign language. Having always written, it was during his brief stint as an English teacher that he began work on his first novel, People Die.

 

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