Monday, March 24, 2014

#62 : Muffin Man by Stephen Collina : A Review

BOOK TITLE: The Muffin Man
ISBN: 978-1480078062
AUTHOR: Stephan Collina
GENRE: Fiction – Political drama
REVIEW BY: Shree Janani
HOW I GOT THIS BOOK: Part of the virtual author book tours.
          The Muffin man atmospheric tale from the 1970s, mostly set in the UK and the east coast of the USA.
          The tale begins with a premonition that leads to the formation of a secretive political organisation, but the story unfolds in twists and turns through the ordinary lives of innocents who are sucked into an accelerating and dangerous vortex of drug dealing, assassination and murder that leads up to the present day. Outline
          Highflying US Army Colonel returns from Vietnam disillusioned. He is recruited to form the covert arm of a secretive political organisation. The Colonel’s alienated daughter Anne runs away from home. Tailed by one of her father’s operatives, she gives him the slip. Anne ends up in London, unknowingly working for her father’s organisation in England.
David, a bright, middleclass young Englishman becomes by accident a major drug dealer, when a friend has to flee after killing a snitch. David’s beautiful but manipulative girlfriend Louise assists with the drug dealing but leaves him for the corrupt police inspector who supplies them. The inspector is blackmailed into becoming the secretive organisation’s man in the UK. He in
turn recruits David and a returned friend then initiates a series of successful assassinations. David meets Anne and they fall in love, but the jealous Louise wants him back. The Inspector is well rewarded, which leads to arrogance and an early death, or does it?
When this book came up for review my co-blogger who knew my tastes, jumped up to the chance and got me this book to read. A person like me can never get enough of thrillers and political. What could possibly be a better company than such a book while on travel?
Somehow the book really didn’t live upto my expectations. The book indeed has everything that could make it a huge success yet I felt something missing. I really can’t seem to lay my finger on that missing element.
The plot consists of two separate story lines, one set in UK and the other in US. The US plotline like any other political drama has references to Vietnam and of course, the UK plot line has references to drug peddling as anticipated. Now don’t go about asking me if the two story lines become one in the, I ain’t giving out spoilers.
The language was simple and the plot line was consistent. Thought initially the switching between the two story lines was disorienting, as the plot line grew the feeling of disorientation disappeared.  In sense, the writer seems to have thought pretty much about every other optimal scenario to finish off the book and picked this scenario.
Anne’s story line reminded me of the US television drama ALIAS. This can’t really be let off as a coincidence. Her characterisation seemed really predictable to me as I couldn’t help but draw similarities. But the overall, plot had enough number of unpredictable twists to keep the story moving forward.
My biggest complaint would be the print. I love paperbacks for one reason only – the big and beautiful print! It’s so satisfying to hold a nice book with beautiful print, but when I picked up this book, I ended up getting a headache. The print was insanely small. I have no idea as to why the writer went to such lengths for cost cutting.
In short, If you are picking up the paperback, in spite of the book being a good read you are bound to feel disappointed.
VERDICT: Only for people like me who like political drama and can tolerate small prints.
RATING: 3 on 5
Stephan Collina grew up in the 1970s: a troubled time of recession, poverty, industrial disruption, political tension and terrorism. But for younger people, it was also a post-1960s wide-flared, drug-enhanced and extravagant-haired innocence.
Stephan later became a prominent businessman, acquainted with a number of high-ranking politicians. Stephen ran international technology businesses, spending a great deal of time in the USA and various European and African countries.
The Muffin Man grew from a combination of these unique experiences: his early knowledge of the sometime innocent business of drug dealing (although he never inhaled), and of the much dirtier businesses of covert political and military action, and of international business practices.
Stephan’s first novel explored the nefarious and complicated emotional and sexual relationships of a remote village in Wales, where he had spent his early years.
Stephan holds a degree in Philosophy. He is also a qualified commercial ship’s captain. He now lives quietly by the sea, and concentrates on his writing and related filmmaking activities.
PRICE:  $8.09 for paperback



  1. Thanks for taking part in the tour and for reviewing 'Muffin Man"

    1. Thanks Teddy for getting us good books to review!

  2. Hi and thanks for your comments.
    The print size in the original edition was a problem and that has now been corrected, so apologies on behalf of the publishers for that.
    You are right in saying that there is a sequel and some of the story elements will be developed further in that. I wanted in this first book to concentrate on developing the characters and outlining the ‘how’ of their early involvement, leaving the second novel to cover their subsequent exploits in more detail.
    I have never seen the TV series you mention so any similarity thereto is purely coincidental.

    1. Hi Stephan!

      Ahan? Glad the print got corrected!
      Looking forward to reading the sequel!

      I understand the coincidence, but hey, may be its just me who feels that way!


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