The Black Sea by VP Von Hoehen

Out now from Black Mary Press and available on amazon.

I have to confess I had an early problem with this, the first Kate Allen (investigative journalist) novel, but I also take some pleasure in reporting that the problem I had with it had apparently committed suicide by page 12, and from then on I really enjoyed it.

The issue I had was with the character of French actor, Rene Socarov (the French George Clooney) and, in particular with the author choosing to allow him to speak on the page in a ‘zis and zat’ almost mock French accent throughout his short stay in the book.  So I, for one, wasn’t sorry to see him get offed so early in the story.

His demise comes straight after our heroine, the feisty Kate Allen, has interviewed him for Philadelphia based magazine WMA and it’s when she listens back to the dictaphone recording of that interview that she begins to uncover that, overhearing a telephone conversation that Socarov had out of the room, there might be a lot more to his death than suicide.  That, and the fact that his parting words to her were that if anything were to happen to him she should find a character called Andreas, sends Kate on a mission to discover just what caused the actor’s death, heading first to Paris for his funeral and then across Europe as the spectre of postanovlenie (the restitution of properties and artifacts after the collapse of the Soviet Bloc) raises a dark shadow across what might have happened and she begins to uncover the fact that the Socarov family might have become targets for a mafia like organisation.

Kate is a great central character and I look forward to reading where her adventures are set to send her next – there are five further books planned for the series.  The story is pretty fast paced and has some surprising action sequences and one particularly nasty sequence of culinary based torture that will stay in my mind for quite some time.

And, with thanks to VP Von Hoehen, here’s his own comments on the great central character of Kate Allen:

Kate Allen is the protagonist in my novel, The Black Sea, and she is really a synthesis of a number of strong, intelligent women in my life – all of whom I adore.

The original inspiration for Kate was Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan. I wanted to create a female equivalent to Ryan, someone who would manage the situations in which Kate finds herself in the ways I’d expect the women I know to deal with them.

Kate has no super powers.  She has no Lara Croft or Lisbeth Salander super skills and/or gadgets and, unlike James Bond, she’s not a killer in the “for Queen and country” model.   

Too often woman in fiction are endowed with these unrealistic attributes and this is something that I really dislike, so I created a character that –  much like the women in my own life – is more than capable of looking after herself. Moreover, while Kate is romantic with men she never lets them distract her from her goals or what she is determined to do.

While it is easier for a male protagonist to sleep with women and cast them away unapologetically, Kate’s character strikes a careful balance and is neither callous nor careless with her emotions. 

Kate is a very savvy, ambitious journalist who is more capable than she knows. She uses her intuition and prefers to take action rather than doing nothing – I think it is indecision that keeps most people from realizing their true potential. Kate finds herself in endless dubious and dangerous situations, but she doesn’t get paralyzed with fear and do nothing. She makes decisions with the best information she can gather and then moves forward, for better or worse. At the same time she absorbs knowledge and events very quickly and critically adapts to the environment around her. That is part of what makes her such a great heroine. 

For me, Kate always needed to have attributes that allowed her to resonate in the mind of the reader and, most importantly, I wanted her to be appealing to both men and women. I strove for men to like Kate as much as women do and, from the reviews and feedback I have had so far, I’ve succeeded:  men find her as appealing as female readers do.  

In Kate, I hope that I have created a character who simply does what most women would do when confronted with circumstances in which she finds herself.  And I hope she’s a character who is capable of being convincing both in print and on the screen.

Many thanks to VP Von Hoehen for the above insight into his central character.



Filed under Book Review, Interviews

2 responses to “The Black Sea by VP Von Hoehen

  1. Sounds like fun (after page 12 that is!). How crass to do accents that way in this day and age. Maybe the editor should read the master at this, Stephen Sartarelli’s renditions of the Italian subtypes in the Camilleri novels – linguistic heaven. Or just not bother trying to render the accent, which as a reader is often the most seamless way to read (Sartarelli excepted).

  2. PS having checked this out via your Amazon link, I see it is £16.99 even on Amazon. Does someone really expect to sell many copies of an untried author at that price? (no pb or e-edition)

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