Review: The Alleyman / Author: Pat Kelleher / Publisher: Abaddon Books / Release Date: Out Now
The Alleyman is the latest book in the No Man’s World series, a delightful blend of World War One adventure, castaway drama and survival horror. The series follows the adventures of the 13th Pennine Fusiliers who have been scooped up from the battlefields of France and deposited on a hostile alien world. In The Alleyman, the brave tommies not only have to avoid all out war with the insectoid creatures who live there, they’ve also got a madman to pursue and the very planet itself seems to be doing its best to kill them outright.
This third book in the series contains revelations that the series has been building up to so far, and also focuses on the exploits of the crew’s single fighter ace, Lieutenant Tulliver, who teams with an unlikely but entertaining ally, the titular Alleyman. Obsession and duty mark both characters, and this underlines the desperate situation the protagonists find themselves in. This is a lovingly researched World War One action adventure story with striking characterisation, addictive drama and a big pile of strangeness. There’s a strong sense of history here, and it adds weight and power to a story that is as dark and serious as it is fun.
Good genre mishmashes are a rarity; it’s one thing to simply blend two ideas and use them as background for a story, and it’s another thing entirely to draw from radically different settings and weave them into an engaging narrative, and yet it seems effortless here. Kelleher’s writing is a constant surprise and delight, and those who like their war stories strange and gritty should be delighted with the latest instalment in a series that I hope to see more of.