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Red Wheels Turning by Hugh Ashton

Red Wheels Turning

by Hugh Ashton

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Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
This is my introduction to Mr. Ashton's work. It is a fascinating story of war machines for World War I, differences in social classes in Britain and Russia at the time, and the onset of Lenin's grab for power. The Russians are building huge war machines to combat the Germans and the revolution that the aristocracy feel will be coming soon. The British send a young officer to investigate the war machines and their feasibility. Lenin is also interested in the war machines and sends and operative to investigate for him. Of course the paths of the investigators cross and the story comes to comes to a climax. It is how the protagonists get to their show down that is interesting and keeps the reader
involved in the book.

I found the book to be interesting and a joy to read. It is an adventure story from the past and one that can hold your interests. Also there is also the possibility that the hero will show up again in future books about this era in history. A very good read. ( )
  qstewart | Jun 18, 2012 |
Hugh Aston's book "Red Wheels Turning" is an enjoyable read and I look forward to seeing how Mr. Aston will continue to develop the depth of character of British secret agent, Brian Finch-Malloy.
This alternate history read was enhanced by the introduction of two imposing weapons of destruction, the Netopyr and Zaamurets. Mr. Aston's characterizations of some well-known Bolshevik revolutionaries also added to the adventure. ( )
  linsleo | Jan 28, 2012 |
This engaging novel plays upon the history and crimes surrounding the Russian Revolution during the early years of World War I. The story begins and ends with our eavesdropping on Lenin in his study as he spins the characters into action. Early British MI6 agents work with confederates to discover the Reds’ monstrous machinery invented for battlefield strategies. As they race to ascertain the secret designs, they are confronted by the multiple machinations of a gangster-revolutionary assassin and Bolshevik spies.

The author apologises in the Foreword for his uses of British verbiage. (See, I can translate “apologizes”). American readers can learn that submarine captains shout “shoot” rather than our customary “fire.” We can tolerate some different spellings, such as “carburettor.” But what might send us to a dictionary are slang terms like “bloaters” (smoked herring) or “gee-gees” (horses).

A disturbing construction seems to be Ashton’s long paragraphs. I don’t know if long-windedness is a British writing practice or if I am too conditioned from reading American thrillers. Usually the spy-story writer uses short segments and sparse dialogues to prompt the reader toward a faster pace in consuming the plot. The larger portions of Ashton’s text do slow the reader enough to allow more time to reflect upon—if not project into—the plot.

Some characters seem inconsistent. The males are prone to bandy words rather than brandish weapons. Maria is totally undeveloped as a love interest; she’s pale, passing, and plastic. For a man of action, the protagonist Brian Finch-Malloy talks too much. But the antagonist assassin Kolinski is the most problematic.

Comrade Kolinski is introduced as sort of a dunce, an uneducated oaf; yet, he is supposed to be a world-class killer. Mostly, he comes across as a clever, multi-lingual ninja; but, he escapes unscathed certain tight spots through happenstance rather than skill. A savage killer during his tour, at one point he stops to play an elaborate prank on his next victim rather than promptly subduing the guard. Nevertheless, Kolinski’s final undoing hinges on a lack of ammunition—something an experienced hired gun would have discovered and avoided.

The novel is a worthy read and it provides considerable historical flavor of Europe’s Great War. If you don’t lurch to research Netopyr, you might investigate taiga. ( )
  terk71 | Jan 8, 2012 |
It took a while to get into this book, but I was hooked by the end. The alternate history-ness of it is not obvious, though there are references that make me want to get the first book and see where they lead. Apparently the American Civil War did not have much effect on Russia. I have always found turn of the century Russia interesting. It is an era of have and have-nots much like our own is becoming. The characters are well-thought out, the flow of the book is good, and I look forward to the next in the series. I just wish that Harry had survived.... ( )
  bgknighton | Jan 3, 2012 |
This was my first read written by Hugh Ashton. It was fun, fast, and very enjoyable. It also found me wanting to remember more of my history lessons from school! If found me wanting to read more of his books. ( )
1 vote FishHeaven | Dec 23, 2011 |
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British secret agent Brian Finch-Malloy (described by one reviewer as "a 1920s James Bond") was introduced in Beneath Gray Skies, set in an alternate history where the American Civil War never happened. Red Wheels Turning takes place in the same historical timeline, and features some of the same characters. With a backdrop of Tsarist Russia prior to the events described in Beneath Gray Skies, Red Wheels Turning once more mixes real historical characters with fictional characters and events in a an entertaining adventure featuring two of the most extraordinary weapons ever developed -- the massive "Netopyr" and the rail cruiser "Zaamurets". Finch-Malloy battles against the maniacal gangster-turned-Bolshevik revolutionary Kolinski in a contest of wits to determine who will have control of these incredible machines. Described by readers as "a ripping yarn" and a "page-turner", Red Wheels Turning continues the tradition of high adventure, espionage and treachery, mixed with steampunk-like technology in a genre best described as "steampulp". Ashton's writing in Beneath Gray Skies has been characterized as "well-written with a brilliant story", "a delightful romp through what it terms "a past that never happened."" and "a remarkable alternate history novel". From Christopher Belton, author of Isolation and Crime sans Frontires: "Red Wheels Turning provides fans of Beneath Gray Skies with another opportunity to meet up with an old favorite; Brian Finch-Malloy. An impeccably crafted tale exuding volumes of World War I's black-and-white atmosphere in vibrant technicolor. Hugh Ashton's careful attention to detail pulls the reader into the story from page one and then steps on the accelerator. A riveting plot wrapped up in a firm coating of history, with good guys to root for and bad guys to despise. A thoroughly enjoyable read from start to finish."… (more)

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