Review: Black Hand Gang (No Man’s World Book 1)

by Pat Kelleher

Abaddon Books, out now

A group of First World War soldiers are mysteriously transported to an alien planet…

Abbadon Press are onto a real winner with their latest series, which takes the time to set up the disparate personalities that form the troop of soldiers who are eventually taken completely out of what passes for their comfort zone in the trenches of the Great War. Some are sympathetic, others considerably less so, and of course there’s a dyed-in-the-wool villain masquerading under false colours.

Pat Kelleher has clearly done his research, but the reader never feels lectured to – the slang feels authentic, and the privations of life under these conditions are clear. The action sequences make good use of the weapons that the army has available to them, including the then-novel biplanes and tanks, while the author also makes clever use of the morals of the time – one of the key protagonists feels unworthy because of actions that perhaps wouldn’t attract anywhere the same opprobrium today.

There’s some careful world-building on display – a lot of clues are given as to the nature of some of the other inhabitants of the planet that the soldiers encounter, not all of which are explained in this novel.

Verdict: A terrific start.  8/10

Paul Simpson

 

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