In 1969 at the age of 17, Tom left his native Glasgow to join the British Army. Tom’s military career spanned from 1969 to 1992. He followed this with a career in Retail Management, in which he was employed from 1992 to 2012.
Tom has been writing since 2007.
He has published seven novels, five anthologies of short stories, a five-part novel, a five-part series of erotica novellas, and a series of five anthologies of genre-based poetry, and has several other projects in the pipeline …
Tom’s websites & social media:
Beyond The Law: Consequences (Book 3) –
(Currently only available on Amazon Kindle) –
Amazon blurb … In August 2004, close relatives of three recently deceased Glasgow gangsters are looking for answers and revenge. Those intent on causing more bloodshed have yet to meet each other.
Will they form an alliance, or handle their issues as individuals?
Phil and Annabel have handed over the running of BTL Enterprises, but will they be called out of early retirement?
Why would a flag be flying from a castle ruin on a Scottish island?
The third and final part of Tom Benson’s BLT (Beyond The Law) trilogy, a series of books charting the formation and successes of a Glasgow based vigilante group BLT Enterprises, initially headed by ex SAS operative Phil McKenzie aka the Hawk, and then by his promising protege Jake, also after leaving the SAS. Unlike the traditional lone vigilante, the BLT group operate with the ‘unofficial’ support and backing of the UK authorities, even if at a discreet and very deniable arm’s length.i.e. if you get caught or anything goes wrong that might embarrass the government you’re on your own!
Following previous BLT successes in ridding Glasgow of much of the worst of its criminal element, things have moved on and once again new players have stepped up to the fill the criminal void left by the BLT group’s activities; those left behind want answers and revenge, and of course to be rid of the Hawk and his cohort’s interference in Glasgow’s criminal underworld. And likewise with the BLT, eight years on from its initial formation new characters are proving their worth, and with the continuing help and alliance of the Mental Riders’ biker gang, they continue to be a formidable force in combatting violent and organised crime – but now they face a new and better-organized enemy, an alliance of criminal psychopaths with comparable skills and a ruthlessness beyond anything they’ve had to face before, and with one aim in mind, the deaths of every member of BLT enterprises.
Once again Tom Benson has introduced several new characters, keeping the series fresh and exciting while still retaining most of the original line-up for continuity; despite the genre and macho world in which the story takes place, and indeed the author’s own very male-dominated previous military career, Tom Benson doesn’t shy away from creating strong and believable leading female characters, on both sides of the moral compass I add, putting one in mind of some of Lynda La Plante’s writing (think gangster’s wife Dolly Rawlings in Widows). The author also loosely connects this book with the wider world in which both the BLT series and his other thrillers take place thus ensuring that while this individual series might be coming to an end, at least some of the characters themselves have the opportunity to live on.
In the case of the first two instalments, each reads just as well as a stand-alone book as they do as part of a series; in book one there was more than enough scope for readers to hope for a sequel but without feeling cheated by lots of unanswered questions and loose ends, and in book two readers were introduced to several new characters taking the helm as it were, but with enough interwoven references to the past so as not to confuse new readers. In book three though I would say that it has moved on to the point where it really does read much better if you’ve already read the first two books so no, I wouldn’t say this works as well if read in isolation but given this was to be the final instalment of the BLT series I was quite pleased the author didn’t put unnecessary effort into making this another stand-alone book comparable to the first two but instead concentrated on writing a story that complimented and concludes the BLT saga, so crafting the perfect final chapter to this superb crime vigilante series – take my advice and read books one and two first and then treat yourself to this final concluding part.
For those readers sufficiently intrigued by this review please take a look at my reviews for the two previous books in this superb trilogy:
Beyond The Law: Formation: (Book One)
A ‘can’t put down’ book that definitely hits the ground running. In an explosive opening chapter reminiscent of Andy McNab, we’re introduced to the central character, Phil McKenzie, and some of the background to his special skills and training. What follows is an equally explosive story of unofficial state-sanctioned vigilantism as he and his cohorts set about tackling the tough and violent criminal under-belly of a crime-ridden Glasgow. But this is no simple story of good guys hunting down the bad; set against the murky backdrop of the military and British intelligence, Phil McKenzie and a select team of operatives are up against a criminal alliance that spans not only that of organised crime but also high ranking politicians and police officers. The book takes a number of different and dangerous turns, culminating in one hell of a conclusion.
Some of the characters have definite echoes of Lee Child’s Jack Reacher. The dialogue throughout is both fluid and natural, as is the writing and realistic portrayal of a world and characters that thankfully, most never get to see outside the pages of a book. The author’s attention to detail and plot-line are approached with the same deadly precision as that of a covert military operation.
This is a book that effortlessly combines the genres of military adventure with that of crime and justice, and one that would sit well in the company of Lee Child, Andy McNab, and Tom Clancy. Should Tom Benson ever decide to write a sequel, it will certainly leapfrog to the front of my ‘to read’ list. Highly recommended …
Beyond The Law: Retribution: (Book Two)
This is a retribution themed novel once again dealing with those criminals whose cunning and resources enable them to operate beyond the constraints of the judiciary and elude the regular forces of law and order. Such is the violence and ruthlessness of such men it takes an equally resourceful and ruthless approach in dealing with such criminals, cue the reappearance of ex SAS operative Phil McKenzie aka the Hawk, and his unique band of cohorts collectively now known as BTL (Beyond the Law) enterprises. Hawk and his associates are every bit as ruthless as the criminals they face, with the added advantages of the very best military training in weapons, field-craft, and covert operations. Operating as they do outside normal police investigation and procedure they can’t be openly supported by the regular police, but they can still draw on the covert support of the British intelligence services and their unofficial police contacts, as well as here, some more ‘unconventional’ allies.
Our introduction to Phil McKenzie and the formation of BTL enterprises was dealt with in the prequel to this book. Although there is sufficient explanation and references to the past to allow it to read perfectly well as a stand-alone book I would still recommend reading the prequel first to enjoy it to its full; as well as being re-acquainted with ex SAS operative Hawk, the attractive ex intelligence operative Annabel, the equally stunning motor bike riding Rachael, former pick-pocket Jake, and one or two others, several new colourful characters are added to the mix: Max, the leader of biker gang the Mental Riders, and Intelligence operative and linguistics expert, Ian, to name but two. There are also some pretty brutal and sadistic new villains as well in the shape psychopathic twin brothers.
The story kicks off with the audacious escape from prison custody of Martin Cameron, who within minutes of his escape embarks on his vicious return to crime and violence; determined to re-establish and expand his control of all of Scotland’s major criminal activities, there follows a bloody trail of violence and dead bodies along the way; he also plans his painful and sadistic revenge on the man responsible for his imprisonment, Phil McKenzie. What he isn’t aware of though is just how eager someone else is for equally sadistic vengeance against him or indeed just how better organised and equipped Phil McKenzie and his organisation are now. In the interim, Martin Cameron’s plans to organise a massive drug shipment into Scotland once again bring him to the attention of one of the Hawk’s former cohorts despite being on the other side of the world at the time.
This is what Tom Benson does best, drawing on his own military experience and memories of growing up on the hard streets of Glasgow, coupled with a true story teller’s imagination. Once again, the author’s attention to plot detail and consistency rivals that of say a Frederick Forsythe novel, and is handled with the same careful planning as the covert operations of the story. The precise levels of detail related to weaponry, covert surveillance, and urban and rural field-craft are excellent, enough to place the reader right there with the characters but not so much to distract from the main story or bog the reader down. The characters are well-developed by way of the gritty and realistic dialogue and the things they do. I also enjoyed seeing how some of the characters had evolved since first encountering them in the prequel, and I must say, the writing here is even sharper and more streamlined than before. I was also impressed at how Phil McKenzie took more of a ‘behind the scenes’ role here, allowing some of the other characters to really come into their own rather than relying just on him to carry the story. As always, Tom Benson rounds up the conclusion and loose ends most effectively and leaves the reader with a tantalising hint of another sequel. The way the story is structured and has evolved from the prequel could lend this two book series (so far) to a whole series of books along the lines of Lee Child’s ‘Jack Reacher’ series …
… Tom Benson on the IASD website – click on pic for link …
I’ve had this book on my kindle for quite some time now, but what with one thing and another I only recently got round to actually reading it. I really shouldn’t have left it so long as it turned out to be a truly beautiful and enjoyable read. Lucinda E. Clarke’s writing is another discovery via Fb and other social media, along with some wonderful reviews and recommendations from fellow writers and bloggers. As well as Amie: An African Adventure, Lucinda E. Clarke has written three more books, links to which are provided following my review. But first, a little about the author herself…
Born in Dublin, dragged up in the Cotswolds, matured and finished off in Liverpool. Her family were not wildly enthusiastic about following her grandfather into Fleet Street (unfeminine, unreliable and dangerous), so she was packed off to dockland Liverpool to get teaching qualifications (safe, respectable and pensionable).
Lucinda returned south extremely good at self-defence. She married and went crofting in Scotland, a disaster so she says, and bred dogs among other things, less of a disaster. She moved to Kenya with her 3 week old daughter, was abandoned in the bush, then on to Libya, surviving riots, public hangings, an imprisoned husband and eventual deportation. She moved to Botswana – still teaching – and opened and ran a horse riding school with a ‘How to…’ book in hand.
She immigrated to South Africa and taught for four years, but since 1984, she wrote freelance full time, for major corporations, UNESCO, UNICEF and the SABC for both radio and television. Moving into television production in 1986, she has received over 20 awards, specializing in the fields of education, documentaries, municipal and government.
She has also worked on radio in both Libya and South Africa, had a newspaper column, and was commissioned to write two educational text books. In 1996 she set up her own video production company, and retired to Spain in 2008. Well that was the plan…
Further links to Lucinda E. Clarke’s writing can be found at:
Amie: An African Adventure
By Lucinda E. Clarke
(Available from Amazon in eBook format)
My biggest regret about this book is that it had to end at some point, as all books do. It tells the story of young couple’s move to Africa for the husband’s career, particularly that of the wife, Amie. It starts off sedately enough, detailing their preparations and Amie’s initial fears and nervousness about leaving behind everyone she knows and loves and her way of life back in England, charmingly detailing many of the fears any of us might have at such a prospect. After their arrival in Africa, things seem to be working out for Amie as she adapts to and begins to enjoy a very different way of life. Now although I say it starts ‘sedately,’ right from the start the author has already hooked the reader with a harrowing and well-placed preface of things to come, and the reader knows that this is to be no ordinary foreign posting, that danger and adventure are sure to follow their initial settling in.
As the story develops, the author introduces the reader to the real Africa and its way of life for the majority. Yes, Amie lives the comparatively comfortable and indeed luxurious life of an ex patriot, shielded from much of the hardship, but she sees it all around her, and against advice goes out of her way to help as best she can. Within the story, with some truly beautiful writing and turns of phrase, the author manages to convey a real sense of being in Amie’s shoes, providing the reader a glimpse and real insight into the everyday life and comings and goings of the native population, of the poverty and corruption, and of course the dangers. We also learn though not to judge the culture and ways of the African people in relation to European ways of doing things. Amid the vivid descriptions of Africa, the ex-patriot community, and the local culture, the reader experiences the growing unrest of a volatile society, the dilemmas Amie has to face and deal with, and the sudden and explosive upheaval of an entire country. How she copes with everything around her is a story in itself, and perfectly complements the story of her African adventure.
Quite apart from the story itself, which was thrilling to say the least, I also admired and enjoyed the way Amie adapted and grew as a person, watching her confidence and self-reliance grow a little more every day. We see the transformation of someone initially afraid of travelling much beyond her home town and who probably thought that a package holiday to Spain was the extent of travelling abroad, into a resourceful and determined young woman more than capable of surviving the dangers of wildest Africa. What I would also say here though is that, while there is an element of memoir to the writing, this is still mainly an action and adventure filled tale, and one that won’t disappoint those who like to see the adrenalin flowing in their reading, combining an imaginative and descriptive narrative with just the right degree and tone of dialogue to drive the story forward. If I had but one tiny criticism it would be the cover, which if I’m honest, didn’t quite grab me or in my opinion, reflect or do justice to the story within. Other than that, I’m delighted to say the author is currently writing a much anticipated sequel to this wonderful book.
Further titles by Lucinda E. Clarke: click on thumbnails for Amazon links