Reviewed by: Pete Barber
Genre: Psychological thriller/Suspense
Approximate word count: 80-85,000 words
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By day, David Powning is a copy-editor and proofreader; by night, he is fulfilling his writing ambitions. The Ground Will Catch You is his first novel, although, having chosen to forgo the recommended levels of sleep for an adult male, he is currently working on a new book.
Steve Hollis is unhappy at his work and unhappy in his life. He’s plagued by guilt and self-doubt because of one night when he went off the rails and despoiled the one substantial aspect of his life—his love and dedication to judo. Then he meets Emily—a beautiful ballet dancer—and it seems that perhaps life hasn’t given up on him completely.
There’s a lot to like about this novel. I thoroughly enjoyed learning about judo. Not the moves, but the way of life it demands. Steve’s sensei is a likeable and multi-faceted character who acts as the pivot around which the story’s three main threads revolve: Steve’s relationship with Emily, Steve’s relationship with judo, and his involvement with a young judo student who shows great promise but comes from the wrong side of the tracks.
The writing style was close to literary (if there is such a classification). As I read, I highlighted numerous passages where the imagery and the language struck me as beautifully layered.
This is an enjoyable and unusual story with fully realized characters and a simmering uncertainty within the plot that kept me off balance throughout. I expected something to turn out not as it seemed. And even though a twist did happen. It came as a surprise, which is always fun.
Rating: **** Four stars