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Veteran Avenue

 

347 pages         ISBN: 978-1914480799

Updated second edition, published by Red Dog Press in 2021. 

1978. On vacation from England, eight-year-old John Frears is befriended by a stranger in the Oregon wilderness and stolen away from his parents. After a bizarre hour spent in a log cabin, he is sent back with a picture of a young girl. 

2013. Since leaving the military, John Frears has been drifting, unable to settle. Then he gets word that a funeral is taking place in Los Angeles. Donnie Chester, fellow veteran of the first Gulf War, has been shot dead. They barely knew each other but it's a good excuse to visit the States. He can pay his respects then go sightseeing. It is a simple plan, in keeping with his life to date. 

But John's life is about to become more complicated than he could ever imagine. The mysterious event from his childhood crashes into the present, and his actions will mean the difference between life and death.


 

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Veteran Avenue

400 pages

Kindle edition, published by Red Dog Press/Bloodhound Books in 2023.


 

Veteran Avenue

381 pages          ISBN: 978-1911583318

First edition, published by Urbane in 2017.


 

Praise for VETERAN AVENUE 

"Terrific page turner." 

Oliver Holt, Chief Sports Writer for The Mail on Sunday

"If ever there was a book destined to be made into a movie it's this one - "Veteran Avenue" by actor turned author Mark Pepper. After just finishing reading an excellent thriller myself I couldn't believe another would come along quite so soon but this has blown that one out of the water!! Entertaining, intriguing, full of tension, suspenseful with excellent solid characters, I thoroughly enjoyed this impressive story and really felt bereft when I'd finished reading it, I so wanted to just keep on reading and reading!

In 1978 on vacation from England, eight-year-old John Frears is befriended by a stranger in the Oregon wilderness and stolen away from his parents. After a bizarre hour spent in a log cabin, he is sent back unharmed with a photo of a young girl and told to always protect it. We then jump to 2013 and the mysterious event from John's past crashes into the present and could mean the difference between life and death. However, this is only one layer to the story and with many more revealed along the way it's impossible to discuss it without spoiling it for the reader.


I knew from the very first chapter that this was going to be an addictive page turner and I wasn't proved wrong. Such an intriguing opening to a story that leaves you desperate to follow it through. In fact by the end I was emotionally exhausted (in a very good way).


This was without doubt professionally plotted with creative narrative, excellently executed and the way you felt for the realistic characters was just unreal, never have I felt an affinity for so many characters in one story. From my feelings in the very beginning for Chuck and young John, to Dodge suffering from PTSD right through to Laura DeCecco and her determination to protect her family and unborn child, I really felt I knew ALL of the characters personally and truly hope that they may feature in another story in the future.


I can't believe this has been sitting on my bookshelf for so long unread, but now i have read it I can't shout about it enough, you MUST READ this incredible book! I really want this book to reach as many readers as possible it's THAT good!


The author has been quoted as being 'a writer to watch' and I highly agree, I personally would compare this book to any written from well known, bestselling authors, certainly giving them a run for their money. Mark Pepper has written an outstanding adrenaline fuelled book in "Veteran Avenue", I absolutely LOVED it (have you guessed I liked it yet?) and it should be praised from the very highest rooftop!"

5 stars but easily deserves 5 more!"

Miriam Smith on Amazon.co.uk

"I've found it really difficult to write a review of Veteran Avenue: how do I write a review to show how brilliant it is without giving anything away? I've deliberated over it far too long so I'm biting the bullet and attempting a no-spoiler review.

What is so clever about Veteran Avenue is how you take the main character of John to your heart straight away. As an eight year-old he already feels unloved and invisible so when a stranger tempts him away from his parents, John is only too eager to follow. This strange meeting will stay with John for the rest of his life and puts him on a path he doesn't even know he is following. With fate pulling all the strings, John's destiny awaits.

Veteran Avenue is SO SO good. I really wanted to do a review that would do it justice without releasing any spoilers, so I went for a minimalist approach. This is a book that defies genre and will burst out of any box you try to put it in. Whatever your usual genre, you will love Veteran Avenue as it has a bit of everything from the military to romance with a sprinkling of the unexpected.

I firmly believe that life is a journey and we are travelling down a path that is already mapped out for us. John's life is certainly like that, nothing is left to chance and everything is meant to be. Veteran Avenue is Thought-provoking with a capital 'T' and I am encouraging friends and family to read it so I can talk to them about it, as I am positively fit to burst being the only person in my circle to have read it. Mark Pepper has written such an amazing book that it deserves to be sitting at the top of the charts for a long time to come.

If you're looking for something different to read: look no further! I wholeheartedly recommend Veteran Avenue to readers of any genre. It's a book that you will remember long after turning the final page; I know I will never forget it and it deserves every single one of the five stars I have awarded it."

The Book Magnet

"Mark Pepper’s action packed thriller [is] almost Raymond Chandler-esq … The novel’s whole cast of characters are interesting and varied, with strong dialogue that makes this a really easy book to devour. The story is punchy and fast paced … With its quick witted dialogue, engaging characters and well-driven narrative, Veteran Avenue is a great thriller that readers will struggle to put down. I found myself on the verge of reading it again once I’d finished, as I was so entranced by Pepper’s portrayal of John’s adventures."

Dorset Book Detective

Two reviews from GoodReads (16 ratings in total, with an overall score of 4.63 out of 5)

 

"The thing that I loved about this book is that from the first page I was totally gripped. After reading a few not so great books, this finally reignited my love of reading. I feel that Mark Pepper (who is definitely going on my 'to read' list) creates characters that you are familiar with and you get a sense of without him explicitly pointing out the good and bad traits ... I loved this book and I would definitely recommend it. "

and

"I saved this as my holiday read and was hooked, the only time it left my hands was when my grumbly tum indicated that I needed to eat. There are some great twists and turns and just when you think you know where the story is going, Mark Pepper makes you hit the next bend at 100mph .... in another direction. Very, very entertaining read, highly recommended."

"A superbly written thriller. Makes me want to read Mark Pepper's earlier novels. Veteran Avenue has great pace, and varied and convincing characters. The plot twists this way and that, and keeps you guessing. A most enjoyable read by a writer clearly in his prime."

Mark Mayes, author 

"From the outset I found this believable (even when it’s unbelievable), cleverly written and with clear but not obtrusive wit. No point in spoiling the plot for you, but praise for this book is underdone. For instance on the cover Time Out are quoted as saying ‘Mark Pepper is a writer to watch’ – maybe, but more to the point, he’s definitely one to read."

Lloyd Pettiford, author

"A fast-paced, suspense thriller with some unexpected twists. Along with the suspense Pepper adds some humor and romance to give it some balance, which worked well."

NetGalley

"Loved "Veteran Avenue" for where it took me. If you were to pull on an unexplored thread from your past, where would it lead - somewhere wonderful? Somewhere dangerous? This outstanding novel follows one such journey of discovery. At the center is a love story, wrapped in mystery, bound in suspense, packed with action. The writing is vivid, the characters are sharply drawn, the dialogue is real and full of ironic humor, and the story is tightly woven together. Beneath it all I perceived an undercurrent of commentary on the violence of American life. So well conceived and written, so thoroughly enjoyable."

5-star Amazon review

 
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