I was very kindly sent the fourth book in the Felix Hart series of novels, Eastern Promise by Peter Stafford-Bow for review. You may have caught my other reviews over the years, including the debut, Brut Force. I can truthfully say that they are the great exception for me these days. Reading for pleasure is something of a thing of the past with a busy schedule and a small child to look after. But I always make a special effort to get to Peter’s books. This one has taken me just three months to find the time to read. A new personal best.
Having said that, once I started it, I genuinely couldn’t put it down. You’ll see from my photo that the cover is now a little dog-eared from the train journeys it has accompanied me on. I found myself being “Irritated of New Street” as my train pulled into the station, forcing me to close the book. The next page would have to wait for the connecting train. I just wanted to sit and finish the chapter.
I love a proper page-turner, and Peter’s books are always compelling reading. Plus they have a wine world focus. This is of great benefit to someone like me, whose world basically turns around the drinks industry. Felix Hart is a bit of a classic loveable rogue. Head wine buyer for a major supermarket, and a certified Minstrel of Wine, which is a beautiful skit of a number of historic and respected wine institutions’ higher echelons.
He does get into all kinds of scrapes, does our Felix. Not that it isn’t usually his own greed that starts him down the path in the first place. In this novel, he gets made an offer he cannot refuse to attend an exclusive secret tasting held by one of China’s richest men and most innovative business leaders. And that’s probably about as much as I can tell you without really giving away any spoilers.
As ever, I found myself imagining that I would dislike Felix Hart intensely if I met him. He is rather smug and over confident. But he certainly knows his wine. Plus he lives his life via a certain ‘seat of the pants’ vibe that is quite irresistible for the spectator. As he finds himself tumbling further and further down the rabbit hole, you will also find that you just can’t help but root for him in the end.
10/10 – Eastern Promise is full of global conspiracy, a hefty pinch of wine geekery and a surprising smattering of carnivorous aquatic mammals and toilet seat construction. An utter delight from start to finish. Block out your schedule, or miss your connection, so you can give it due attention.
I was sent a review copy of this book, but my review is just my own darn opinion and there’s nothing you can do about it.