DiscoverThriller & Suspense

Spiral

By

Worth reading 😎

An enjoyable story with a good level of emotional depth with the writing.

Synopsis

Laurence Turner, a pharmacist from Sydney, is wracked with guilt after his fiancé dies on a sailing trip. The tragedy is followed by yet another fatal incident when he dispenses the wrong medication to a customer.

Laurence moves to the Clare Valley in South Australia for a fresh start, but when he stumbles across the dead body of a visiting American reporter, things take a turn for the worst.

The case explodes into far more than Laurence could ever expect with the arrival of a beautiful American woman, Skyler Hawthorne. Her troubles put Laurence in the path of both domestic and foreign agents, including a dangerous Russian spy who believes Laurence is hiding a secret.

This story follows our main character, Laurence Turner, who is a pharmacist from Sydney. Laurence is wracked with guilt after his fiancé dies on a sailing trip. Following on from this harrowing tragedy, a second fatal incident occurs when Laurence then dispenses the wrong medication to a customer.


After these two tragedies which leave Laurence shaken and heartbroken, he moves to the Clare Valley in South Australia in a bid to find a fresh start. But then tragedy strikes as Laurence stumbles across a dead body. The body is that of a visiting American reporter and things take a turn for the worst as Laurence is then pursued by agents, one of whom is a Russian spy, who sees Laurence as less than innocent.


This story really brought the emotional impact. When Laurence experiences the death of his fiance and the death of his customer (for which he was to blame) you could really feel the emotional impact of the story. I felt as though Khaled Talib managed to execute the emotional impact that was necessary for that portion of the story.


If I was to express any concern with the book, it is that it was actually quite short. This is good as it thus means that the story is very faced paced and does not have a lot of "filler" content. However, I also felt that sometimes the scenes were rushed and as a result I did not have time to invest in what was going on during the story.


With that being said, I still feel like the story was excellent and I really enjoyed seeing how the story played out and how things unraveled throughout.


Thank you so much to Reedsy and the author; Khaled Talib for this advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

Reviewed by

Hello,
I am Connor, a UK Blogger who discusses books.
I focus mainly on Thrillers, Urban Fantasy and YA Novels.

I run a YouTube channel where I do reviews and discuss these books in fun ways ie through readathons and games

Synopsis

Laurence Turner, a pharmacist from Sydney, is wracked with guilt after his fiancé dies on a sailing trip. The tragedy is followed by yet another fatal incident when he dispenses the wrong medication to a customer.

Laurence moves to the Clare Valley in South Australia for a fresh start, but when he stumbles across the dead body of a visiting American reporter, things take a turn for the worst.

The case explodes into far more than Laurence could ever expect with the arrival of a beautiful American woman, Skyler Hawthorne. Her troubles put Laurence in the path of both domestic and foreign agents, including a dangerous Russian spy who believes Laurence is hiding a secret.

Chapter One



Holding the hat in his hand, Laurence Turner took the elevator up to the mezzanine level of the Burning Bush Winery in the Clare Valley of Australia. The mirrored doors reflected a tall man whose almond-shaped blue eyes were past better days.  February, the last month of summer, was as mundane as any other month for him. He was still trying to adjust to his new life here.  Not much else he could do to reframe his negative thoughts.

 Laurence wiped his Roman nose consciously. Unsatisfied with his appearance, he tucked the white short-sleeved shirt inside his cargo shorts with one hand, then raked his long, blond hair curling over his collar into neatness.

The doors parted to the chattering din of a lunch crowd. Turning right, he proceeded down the hallway to the back of the mezzanine and continued along a balconied hallway on the left with several doors. He arrived at the far end and mouthed out a breath of nervousness. He knocked once and opened the door inward to off-white walls and the smell of rose-scented air freshener.

A young woman with a phone’s earbud in her ear sat behind a wooden desk. Lisa, the young, voluptuous hazel-haired secretary with a heart-shaped face wore a violet one-piece dress. She was also Laurence’s breakfast companion at the refectory. He liked her and detected she liked him more, but he chose not to go that way, his life being uneven. Besides, she was the general manager’s niece, which was worse than a dingo trespassing on a farmer’s property.    

 Lisa hung up the phone, smiled at him, and pointed for him to go right in to Barry’s office, the door left ajar.

Barry Stewart, the fifty-five-year-old general manager with a paunch, wore a blue striped long sleeve shirt. He sat hunched forward over his baroque desk typing on his laptop. The keyboard chatter, even though soft, disrupted the pervading silence like termites eating wood. A pair of gold-plated reading glasses hung on his short nose.

Barry gestured to the cushioned chair in front of his desk.

Laurence shuffled across the wooden floor and drew up the chair, placing his hat on his lap. He leaned far back and waited, wondering if he was being summoned about yesterday’s incident. An intern, startled by a mouse, had dropped and broken a vintage wine bottle.

Laurence’s eyes roved a landscape painting of the outback on the wall behind Barry’s chair. He did not recall seeing it the last time he visited the office. He narrowed to the green Persian rug underneath the desk. Must be new too—or was everything less foggy because the weight of his worry seemed less after putting in an hour of extra work today?  

The posh interior did not camouflage Barry’s brusqueness—he was a man known not to mince his words. But he was qualified to manage the estate. With a master’s degree in viticulture and enology from the University of Adelaide, Barry was also in charge of the estate’s new animal cloning plant, a bid by shareholders to diversify business into futuristic farming.

The typing halted. Barry removed his reading glasses, placed them on the desk, and smiled at his employee. Was the sarcastic smile a prelude to the whiplash Laurence expected to receive? Then again, he had never known Barry to smile any other way.   

“How ya goin’, mate?” Barry greeted Laurence in a husky voice. 

“Can’t whinge about anything.” Laurence reciprocated the smile, anticipating a backlash any second now. “Is this about yesterday’s mouse incident?”  

“It would’ve been if the bottle was a hundred-and-fifty years old,” Barry said. “I wanted to see you about something else. There’s an American reporter coming to town in March. He wants to write about our livestock cloning project. He’ll be here on the twentieth of March for two nights, and he’ll leave on the morning of the twenty-second. Need you to take care of him.”

“Me? Where’s Karyn?” Laurence asked, referring to the estate’s in-house public relations manager, expecting her to oversee such assignments.

“Karyn left us. She’s getting married and moving to Melbourne,” Barry said. “I’ll need someone to fill her shoes until I hire someone to replace her.”

“Put out an ad. I don’t know anything about her job,” Laurence said, worried about the excessive load. “This is too much responsibility for someone like me. Besides, I’m happier doing labor work.”  

“I’m not asking you to run a battleship. Just work that charm,” Barry said. “Lisa seems to think you can do it. She’s the one who suggested you. There’s nothing to it, mate. Be polite and assist the reporter with his queries. Let the cloning expert, Peter Hawthorne, do the official talking. To make your job easier, Karyn prepared an itinerary of activities before she left, so there you go.” 

“What’s the reporter’s name?”   

“Matthew Callahan…he works for USA Today.”

“That’s a big newspaper,” Laurence said.

“Yes, and I don’t want to lose the opportunity.” Barry picked up a folder on the desk and handed it over. “Here’s the media kit Karyn prepared for the occasion. Give it a run through and let me know if you’ve any questions. Make sure Callahan meets our cloning expert on time. Hawthorne is a busy person. He’s not fond of interviews, but I managed to convince him it’ll be good for us. So don’t blow it.”

Laurence opened the folder and perused its contents, which included a press release and accompanying documents.

“I’ll pay you seven hundred dollars extra for this job,” Barry said. “How’s that?”

“You’ve got yourself a deal,” Laurence said, standing up.

Barry picked up a pen and rolled it between his hands. “About the mouse problem—how about we get a cat?”

Laurence felt his lower jaw drop. “For the wine cellar? You want to see an inebriated cat?”

Barry sighed. “We’ll sort it out one way or another. Meanwhile, I suggest you go say hello to Hawthorne and tell him what you’ll be doing. Tread carefully—he’s an acerbic bloke who doesn’t take kindly to visitors. I struggled to convince him it’ll be good for the business.” He pointed again at the media kit. “His bio is in there…he’s an American, by the way.”

“I gathered that from the few times I’ve seen him. Is that why the American newspaper agreed to do this story? As if there are no animal cloning farms in the States. Why bother to come here?”

“Hawthorne was a Harvard professor, a notable bloke back in the States. From what Karyn told me, the newspaper wants to do a story about the cloning farm and a side profile story about him. So, it’s all hand in hand. Doesn’t bother me to share the publicity as long as the focus is on our business.”  

 “I’ll go see him now,” Laurence said.

“I’ll call him first to let him know you’re on the way. Just remember he’s a cranky one. Calculate your words before opening your mouth,” Barry said.

Laurence grinned. “Hopefully my smile will impress him.”




About the author

Khaled Talib is a former magazine journalist and public relations consultant. He has authored four thrillers since 2013. Talib is a member of the International Thriller Writers. He lives in Singapore. view profile

Published on December 22, 2020

Published by World Castle Publishing

60000 words

Contains explicit content ⚠️

Genre: Thriller & Suspense

Reviewed by