Black Hand Gang by Pat Kelleher – Review [Bane of Kings]


Bane of Kings Reviews Black Hand Gang, the page-turning opener to the No Man’s World Series by author Pat Kelleher published by Abaddon Books.

“A fascinating concept that I’ve never seen done before.”~The Founding Fields.

Okay, here we are, with my first novel from Abaddon books, entitled Black Hand Gang, by Pat Kelleher, and in this novel, Kelleher delivers his own take to what was the fate of 900 men of the 13th Battalion of the Pennine Fusiliers, a WW1… English Battalion, that vanished without a trace as they advance to the German positions in Harcourt Wood.

Where have they gone? Well, according to Black Hand Gang, the 13th Battalion have found themselves on an alien planet, with animals out to get you – and even the plants can kill you. Nowhere is safe. And, the aliens are hungry.

To make things worse, as the story progresses, supplies are dropping quickly, morale is gradually decreasing….

And there’s a threat from within. Could things get any worse for the 13th? Well, if you want to find out – you’re going to have to read it.

I was eager to read this book ever since it first came out, back last year. Black Hand Gang is the opener to the No Man’s World Series, and based on what this novel was like, I will almost certainly be getting the next one.

Sure, there is more spelling mistakes then there should be in the copy that I was sent at least, but that still didn’t stop me reading. If it hadn’t been for the lack of free time that I’ve been having recently, or if I’d read this at a weekend, I probably would have ploughed through this all in one sitting.

Another thing that I could criticise about this book is the fact that you’re in the dark as much as the soldiers are to the threat of the aliens. You’re only given a rough idea as to what they look like, as the soldiers have never seen them before.

But, enough with the bad points. Let’s look at the good points. Kelleher has managed to give the characters enough likeable traits, and you really find yourself liking the protanagists, Lance Corporal ‘Only’ Atkins is among them, and I found him to be a very interesting character. As with any good novel, you’ll find yourself hating the bad guys, and Kelleher manages to put across a villain whom you will, and I did honestly hate the ‘traitor’ inside the ranks of the 13th.

The first few chapters of Black Hand Gang looks at the lives of Pennine Fusiliers before they vanished or at least, their lives during the war. I find that this helped make us become emotionally attached to the characters already, so that when they do vanish – you begin to feel sympathetic for the soldiers, as they’re now trapped in a hopeless situation and it doesn’t feel as though there’s any way back from the war.

I probably wouldn’t have enjoyed this novel as much if I’d have read Black Hand Gang back when I knew hardly anything about the First World War, so – despite how enjoyable it is now, some of the terms used may seem a bit confusing, especially if you didn’t know that there was a glossary of terms at the back of the novel. (Like I did).

Although there is a Dramatis Personae of sorts, Black Hand Gang doesn’t really need one, or at least I found that out when I was reading it. Not once, did I have to skim back to the beginning of the book to find out, even though I understand it was most likely for memorial as much as letting you know who the characters are.

Because, these men of the 13th Battalion really did vanish, although we don’t know where. It’s one of the biggest mysteries of World War 1, along with the Angel of Mons, the Phantom Archers and the Crucified Canadian.

Not only that, but once you’ve finished Black Hand Gang, Kelleher manages to make you actually want to find out about the events as a whole. For example, I want to research more about the actual mystery now, so I think that this novel will be a great buy for anybody who’s into history, like me.

Although the description can often get a bit dragged out at times, otherwise – it’s pretty enjoyable. So’s the action, when you have everything to black magic, aeroplanes and a tank involved as well. And, although the action is enjoyable, that didn’t feel like it was dragged out.

And, to make matters more interesting, Black Hand Gang ends on a cliff-hanger. Multiple ones, actually – which will leave you wanting to read the next book in the series, The Ironclad Prophecy, to find out what happens next to the 13th Battalion of the Pennine Fusiliers.

Rating: 3.5/5

 More No Man’s World: Black Hand Gang and The Ironclad Prophecy.

David Ploss

I’m a bit of an awesome person. :) I’m a semi-famous 40k Intellect and the Business Manager of Chique Geek Entertainment, LLC. I’m a book reviewer and the owner of Beware my wonky-ness…


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