Member Reviews

I can’t believe how long Back Up has languished on my TBR pile, as this tale of rock ‘n’ roll and murder by Paul Colize was just brilliant from start to finish. As members of a sixties rock band start to meet their deaths in troubling ways, the story criss-crosses between past and present, weaving their story with a mysterious man hospitalised with locked in syndrome. The evocation of one of the most important periods in the development of popular music was perfectly depicted, with numerous references to the known and lesser known artists of the period, in addition to the cleverly crafted murder mystery that lies at the heart of it. Colize’s characterisation, and expression of the strengths and weaknesses of the human psyche was never less than masterful, and the sinister undertones of the reasons for the self destruction of these young men was truly chilling. Excellent.

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Intriguing crime thriller set in Berlin and Brussels. Following the fashionable device of being set in two time lines, the author is extremely skilled in moving the plot along at great pace.

The story starts in 1967 and describes the unexplained deaths of all four members of the rock band Pearl Harbour after a recording session undertaken in Berlin.

The second time line starts in Brussels where a man is run over by a car and is badly injured. Unable to speak or communicate the authorities cannot even identify the victim.

The plotline follows his slow recovery and the reconstruction of his memories and how he was connected to the rock band. The plot device of the victim suffering fro locked-in syndrome has been oft used, memorably by Mark Billingham, but in this instance it also well managed.

Very cleverly done, this is a well constructed and well written thriller. Well worth a read.

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Sorry guys, lost interest, story was far to far fetched

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Oh my goodness, this book took me places that I never dreamed we would go! Set in two timelines, the 1960s onwards, and 2010 and crossing multiple countries, it's a saga of a journey that really has a bit of everything.
In the latter timeline, an unknown man is involved in an accident in Brussels, leaving him first unconscious and then suffering from locked-in syndrome. He is named for the station his accident occurred at, X Midi.
In the former, in Germany, we follow the rise and fall of British band Pearl Harbour who all die within days of each other, in separate locations, all from accidents / natural causes. Coincidence?
We then go on a really rather special journey through the emergence of rock music in the 60s as we follow the life of Midi X both in the present and the past.
We are also introduced to an enthusiastic, Irish journalist whose interest has been piqued by the rock group's members' "accidents" and is determined to get to the bottom of things as he believes that there is much, much more to it than at first glance.
What he discovers is really rather shocking!
But, what is the link between Midi X and Pearl Harbour? Well, you'll just have to read this book to find out; my lips are staying very firmly sealed.
Well, when we eventually got to the nitty gritty of the situation surrounding PH, I was really rather shocked to say the least! Wow, I had no idea we were going there. But, there we went and, although I am not an expert, what was uncovered and explained did come across as completely credible and, on the back of that, a little bit scared...
Yes, the book did time and place hop a fair few times. A consequence of this also being that we were introduced to a fair few characters along the way. It also switched perspective quite a bit. Yes, I have to admit initially finding all this a bit busy and got a tad dazed and confused initially but, after a while, it all settled down in my head and I just got on with it all quite swimmingly.
One of the brilliant things about this book was the trip through the ages. The amount of history from all fields contained within the pages was not insignificant but, at the same time, pertinent to the main storyline running throughout.
Some of my initial struggles could also have been down to the translation. But again, as with other translated books I have read, once you get into the style of the translator and their vocabulary, it again all settled down nicely.
The thing that I really loved about this book was the rehab centre and the way that X Midi's physio interacted with him. Firstly very one-sided but, as time went on and X Midi's condition improved, the way that he had the tools and keys to unlock more of his mind. A really rather special person and relationship.
And the ending, well, that was just sublime and very apt and fitting for the tone of the book as a whole. Well done Mr Colize.
Now the sad part. Having found this wonderful author with a really impressive back catalogue, I am
quite sad to see nothing else that has been translated into English. I really don't think my O'Level French will quite cut it. Hopefully, this one will do well enough for someone to rectify this. I for one would really love this.
My thanks got to the Publisher and Netgalley for the chance to read this book.

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This is a French translated novel that does an extraordinary job in charting musical history from the beginnings of rock and roll through to the drug fuelled haze of the 1070s, informed by a wide variety of seminal musical tracks from the era, such as the likes of Chuck Berry, The Who and The Beatles. The settings shifts from Germany, France, Britain and Belgium as it trawls through the life and history of a man in a coma. It blends fact and fiction as we journey into the past to arrive at the truth in the present. In 1967, the four British members of the rock band Pearl Harbour complete an album in Berlin. Within a period of a week, all the members of the group die in four separate incidents, all in a different manner, and all in different places with the police deeming them as non suspicious. Only the families of the members are concerned, otherwise these deaths are largely unnoticed, and those who do see them as noteworthy end up dying.

The narrative is delivered from the perspective of a range of characters as it moves back and forth in time from the past to the present. Forty three years later from these events, in Brussels, an unknown homeless man steps in front of a car in the front of a station. Named X Midi after the station, he is diagnosed as being in a coma. Trapped in locked in syndrome, we come to understand who he is as we find out about his history and life right up to his arrival in 1967 in Berlin through his memories. At a rehabilitation centre, he communicates with his physiotherapists through blinking! This is a thoroughly compelling conspiracy thriller built up around an interesting concept amidst a fabulous musical background. I loved the gripping and intelligent story, finding it highly engaging and entertaining, with believable twists until the final reveal. Highly Recommended! Many thanks to Oneworld Publications for an ARC.

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in 1967, the members of Pearl Harbour, a little known British rock band all go on holidays separately after recording an album in Berlin only for each of them to die under different circumstances within days of each other. Very few people connect their deaths to each other and those that do end up dead themselves.
Forty three years later a man hit by a car leaving him unable to communicate except through blinking is taken to hospital after being hit by a car. The book traces the history of this man and how he was involved with Pearl Harbour and the secret behind their deaths. A fascinating story with lots of historical musical figures of the generation included. The story slowly unwinds exposing the truth along the way with an ending that for me I did not see coming. Thoroughly enjoyable.

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Loved it! I was drawn in from the first page and stayed there for the ride, right to the last.
One of those few novels where you lose yourself in someone else's world and become absorbed. E.G. the hangover scenes were actually making me feel ill whilst the happy relationship ones had me rooting for them.
This book is carefully constructed to draw the reader carefully and steadily into the main plot, leaving you questioning if this is possible and if such things go on without our knowledge.
When a novel becomes a source of debate round the family dinner table, you know it's a winner.
Many thanks for the opportunity.

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This book has an interesting premise, with a slow but unavoidable build-up. You are led through narrative flashbacks and a 3rd party observer to something a lot darker than could be otherwise expected. It's all fun and games, drugs and rock and roll until the bodies start piling up. It is said that if you can remember the 60s, you weren't really there, and this is practically the very dark opposite of that saying.

Right to the end, we never know, drug fuelled paranoia or realistic fears? Is the protagonist completely off his rocker or has he every reason to be afraid? Murders or accidents?

All this on a background of music from Hendrix to Montreux, from Chuck Berry to Berlin, with drums like a heartbeat resonating through the pages, this is a highly unusual book, which got better as it gathered pace.

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I would like to thank Netgalley and Oneworld Publications for an advance copy of Back Up.

In 1967 the four members of rock band Pearl Harbour die separately within a week of each other. In 2011 an unidentified man, known as X Midi after the station where it happened, throws himself in front of a car and suffers from locked in syndrome. The novel explores X Midi's past to explain what happened.

I thoroughly enjoyed Back Up which is very different to my usual fare as it ventures deep into conspiracy territory but, as with all the best conspiracy theories, it is fairly believable or, at least, not beyond the realms of possibility. Initially I found the novel annoying with its shifting timeline and perspectives, just I got used to one character it switched to a first person narrative, then on to another character so it is difficult to get immersed in the narrative. I soon, however, got the hang of it and found it difficult to put down. X Midi's first person narrative drives the novel in the form of his memories and experiences, interspersed with events from a journalist's late sixties investigation and his present day interaction with his physiotherapist- if blinking can be called interaction.

This is a haunting novel which provides much food for thought from the possibilities of the conspiracy to X Midi's mental health. There is no doubt that he is an extremely strange man whether due to mental illness or the copious consumption of drugs and alcohol and it makes the reader question his reliability. Despite this he is a sympathetic character much loved by his friends. I loved his ill equipped quest for the truth.

Mr Colize has produced an unusual novel of imagination (or is it?). It is well paced with the reveals coming at an even pace and absorbing once you get used to the uneven style. I am very impressed with its premise, style and readability so I have no hesitation in recommending it as a good read.

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