Book Review – “The Tower”, by Simon Toyne

I never make New Year Resolutions, as I never keep them.  However, in a previous blog post, I stated that I have made two for 2018, and I was determined to keep them.  The first was to read more.  Books, that is.  I would aim to read at least one book per month.  Some times that’s easier said than done – so should I aim for “12 books in 2018” instead?  No.  That would just put more pressure on me if I don’t finish a book by the end of the month.

Anyway, I can confirm that today (31 January), I have just finished my first book of the year.

The Tower, by Simon Toyne.  First published 2013.  498 pages.  ISBN 978 0 00 739208 7.


When I bought this book, I didn’t know that this was actually the third of a trilogy (I will point out here that this makes no difference to the reading.  I have not read the previous two books, nor do I intend to…  This book was perfectly readable on its’ own).  Whenever I buy a book, it’s the cover design that grabs my attention first.  If I am drawn to the cover, I will read the description on the back.


After centuries of secrecy, the forbidden Citadel in the historic Turkish city of Ruin opens its gates.  A deadly disease has ravaged everything within.  Charity worker Gabriel Mann is dying – but may also hold the only cure.

Without him, ex-journalist Liv Adamsen stands alone against those who want her silenced.  However, Liv soon has far bigger concerns than just her own life…

In America, FBI agent Joe Shepherd searches for NASA’s missing head scientist.  His investigation unearths a global conspiracy that is preparing for an event beyond all reckoning.

But nobody is ready for what is coming.  And when it does – it will change everything.

I’m a fussy reader, and the genres I choose are rather eclectic.  Ha ha, a bit like this blog really.  I enjoy reading chick lit; where the main character(s) are women, and is a bit of a romantic comedy.  On the other hand, I have really enjoyed reading conspiracy / thrillers; so the blurb on this book called to me.

I have to admit that it was a little slow in starting off.  It seemed all over the place, as the story focused on different “main” characters, who were in different parts of the world.  I couldn’t get my head around it, but perseverance paid off, as by about chapter 10, I was able to distinguish whose story line I was “playing out”.  10 chapters in may sound like a lot, but the chapters in this book are well written, and are about 3-5 pages long.

I found a lot of the characters likeable.  I was able to somewhat “see” what they were describing, and I did feel a lot of empathy for them.

There were a couple of chapters towards the end of the book that I think happened too fast…  I don’t want to give any spoilers here, but I think three characters story lines were ended rather abruptly.  There was no real build-up to it – it just sort of happened; and to me, there could have been more to it.

The whole book sort of ended quickly too.  All the characters, and the plot was closed, so it didn’t leave me with any unanswered questions, but it really felt like the author had just given up.  “I’m bored, let’s wrap this up”, type of thing.  Which was a shame – especially considering this was the final book in the trilogy.

Overall, I would recommend this to anyone who does like to read conspiracy novels.

My score:


Quit clownin’ around

Over the past several years, I have noticed that there are a lot of – apparently, newsworthy articles about people dressing up as clowns, and deliberately frightening people.

From what I have read (unfortunately, I cannot find the post, as it was a couple of weeks ago), people randomly dressing as clowns, and just “appearing” to frighten people started back in the early 80’s, however, it wasn’t until a couple of years ago when it started to become somewhat of a craze.

I remember seeing a few news articles, about a couple of “clowns” appearing throughout the UK.  These people weren’t doing anything – they just seemed to stand around, and wave at people.  I thought it a bit creepy, to be honest.

Pennington Flash, near Wigan, Gtr. Manchester

Pennington Flash, near Wigan, Gtr. Manchester

In August, this year, there were reports of “clowns” lurking in and around the woods in the town of Greenville, South Carolina.  A young boy told his mum that he saw a couple of people dressed in clown suits, acting suspicious, and making strange noises, so she called the police.

At the time it seemed like one of those weird-story-of-the-week things, however, that was just the catalyst for local news hysteria across the USA.  Since the initial clown incident, there has been a rash of clown sightings, almost certainly due to copycat pranksters who have a bad sense of humour and decided to start celebrating Halloween early.

Just a few examples: a man in Kentucky was arrested for dressing up as a clown, and hiding in the woods.  In Alabama, a woman called the police because she was terrified after seeing a man dressed like a clown in her local shopping centre car park.  A clown in New York chased a teen out of the subway…

There have been sightings throughout the USA, and the craze seems to be starting to rise up within the UK – and I suppose most of Europe, too.  Of course, each sighting brings more attention to the phenomenon.

It’s likely most people really did see a clown lurking in the woods. But we also know that people claim to see things all the time that they probably didn’t, like Bigfoot or the Loch Ness Monster (although the latter still needs to be proven that he doesn’t exist to me).

Seeing a clown wielding a knife would scare anyone and as pranks go, this one isn’t funny.  I’ve heard lots of tales going on throughout the UK of clowns with hammers, cricket bats, knives, and even a shotgun at one point, but I don’t really know what to make of it all.

A warning from the Avon and Somerset Police, in the UK.

A warning from the Avon and Somerset Police, in the UK.

What about being afraid of clowns?  Is that a real phobia?

It is a “real thing” in the sense that there is a word for “fear of clowns,” which is Coulrophobia. But just because there’s a word for it doesn’t mean that it’s legitimate.  The term was made up by adding “phobia” to the word “coulro” (which means “stilt-walking), but the term is not recognised within the mental health and counselling world.

It’s unclear whether being creeped out by Ronald McDonald deserves to be called a clinical “phobia.”  There are very few cases of people who are actually diagnosed with Coulrophobia and it’s unlikely that, except in the most extreme cases, anyone would need diagnosis and treatment.  This current panic notwithstanding, clowns aren’t that common, so you can just avoid them.

They're frightening children

They’re frightening children

I’ve also noticed that there are a lot of pages and groups popping up on the infamous “Facebook”, not only for the clown sightings, but also clown hunting pages too.

When it comes down to it, let’s say that some poor dude is on his way home from a fancy dress party (well, it’s got to be a pathetic one if he’s dressed like a clown, ha ha), and he bumps in to one of these groups of so-called ‘vigilantes’?  Knowing from what I’ve read on a few of these pages, that man who has had to spend the evening from hell, dressed as a clown, would hardly make it home alive.

It get’s closer to home though.  I also noticed on one of these pages, a photograph posted, entitled “on Bewley Drive, Kirkby”.  That’s about a 10 minute drive from me, and if I’m being honest with you, I think if I seen one of those clowns hanging around near my house, I’d freak out, lock the windows and doors, and not come out until morning.  Yeah – I suppose I have Coulrophobia.

This was taken abouts 10 minutes away from where I live...

This was taken abouts 10 minutes away from where I live…

I had to laugh, yesterday, when I read a meme…  “People have been too busy preparing for the zombie apocalypse, that no-one ever saw the clown apocalypse coming…”

What worries me now is what these peoples’ intentions are.  Are they doing it just to get laughs by frightening people, or is there something much more sinister behind it?  I’d imagine there are plenty of messed up minds out there who are seeing this as an opportunity to cause more than just mischief.

So, what are your thoughts on the matter?  Do you think this is a ‘thing’, or are people just clowning around?  Have there been any sightings near you?  Are you a fan of clowns?