Brief Encounter by Mark Frankland


Published on Kindle on 7th January 2012 this great wee gem of a novella is also the inaugural review for a new review collective, called Reading Between the Lines. (More about the collective after the review!) 

briefBrief Encounter by Mark Frankland

Mark Frankland and his writing came into my orbit over ten years ago now with his novel The Cull (2001) set against the Foot and Mouth crisis in South West Scotland. I was writing a play on the same subject (Men in White Suits)– but from a totally different angle than Mark’s novel. What was to become his trademark of dark, uncompromising but compelling storytelling; which takes no prisoners and in an accessible way introduces the reader to life beneath the ‘aspirational’ curve of polite middle class life; immediately appealed to me, even though I’m not a ‘thriller’ reader.  Frankland’s work is not what I’d call conventional thriller. It’s thriller plus. There is always so much more to it. The plots are well structured and the story cracks along but the issues he discusses are hard edged and important. That’s what I like about them.  Good plot plus intelligent story and thought provoking themes. That’s good fiction in my book.  Over the years I’ve read most of his work and have enjoyed it all one way or another because I am inspired by a writer who will just do what he thinks is right, put his money and effort where his mouth is and get on with the job.

When I first got ‘into’ ebooks just over a year ago, I thought that it would be a really good medium for Frankland’s work. It is populist but of good quality and I felt that he would (should) gain a whole new readership, both of those who like the ‘conventional’ style of thriller and those who like to look a bit deeper in their fiction.  I’m happy to say that as of now most of his back catalogue is now up in Kindle format and I’d really recommend having a browse through what he has to offer.  One shouldn’t be put off by the words ‘back catalogue.’  It’s not old or passé in any way. It’s just friends you haven’t made yet! Previously undiscovered writing ignored by the mainstram (thought over the years Frankland has built up quite a following – too wide to be described as ‘cult’ – but they are not beloved of the publishing ‘establishment.’  Frankland is a veteran of ‘indie’ publishing and should be respected as such.

The novella I’m reviewing here is ‘new’.  It called Brief Encounter for a very good reason. And it’s just released as an ebook (because it’s on the short side to be financially viable in conventional print media). It is a total gem.  And a great ‘entry’ into Frankland’s work. If you like this, you will enjoy many more of his novels, so I’d certainly recommend the free download while it’s available and you won’t be wasting your money paying for it when it’s no longer free!

If Neville Shute were writing ‘A Town Like Alice’ for the modern world, set in Dumfries and Galloway, Montana and Afghanistan, this is the story he might have written.  The writing is awesomely well structured (writers notice these things, readers just think  -wow, I like this and don’t necessarily ask why). Believe me, from a writers point of view the use of language, the construction on every level is just perfect.  Now, I could read a full length novel of this story but I have to say that the length it is tells the story just so perfectly it doesn’t NEED any more.  Wanting more is like wanting The Great Gatsby to be the length of The Grapes of Wrath.   As it is Brief Encounter does just what it says on the tin. And so much more. It’s as close to perfect in the building of a complete narrative as I’ve seen in a long time (and I read a lot, classics and contemporary fiction).  And it has the enviable attribute that it’s the sort of book you can read if you like romance, or war stories, or social commentary or just a well told story.  Yes it has ‘hard’ moments but that’s because when you’re looking at the lives of ‘ordinary’ people who are living real lives there are hard facts to be absorbed.  It’s not an escapist, aspirational fantasy and if that’s what you’re looking for then you would be disappointed. But if you’re looking for a wee novella that will draw you in, pull your heartstrings and make you think and which gives you more than many much longer novels do (due to their being overwritten and filled with irrelevancy) then I feel pretty comfortable suggesting that you’ll like this.  It will move you both on the level of the story and it should (whether you know it or not) move you on the level of a story well told, just the right length – nothing missing, nothing extraneous added.

Reviewed by Cally Phillips 

Download Brief Encounter AMAZONHERE for free from 7th -11 January then at the normal price of 77p

For more about Mark Frankland and his work click HERE

Reading Between the Lines Review Collective is a small group of professional writers, some of them formerly reviewing for the Indie eBook Review, who will work as a loose collective. Each writer reviews work they like on their own site and shares the reviews with others through whatever medium they choose.  We do not accept submissions for review and we only review work which we have enjoyed and want to share with readers as and when we read it.  You will know that a review is by a collective member when it has the reading2logo attached. 


About callyphillips

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