Reviewed by Antonella Townsend
Alcoholic tough guy on a revenge mission is not my trope of choice. However, Ollie Ollerton’s jaunty writing style somewhat softened the testosterone-fuelled violence as the protagonist of All or Nothing, Alex Abbott, wrought retribution on a network of pedophiles. From the first line, I was hooked: On the carpet lay a dead man, and who knows what had gone on inside his head, but most of it now dripped down the walls.
There are no shades of grey here, the baddies are heinous, and despite his pressing alcoholic tendencies, Abbott is relying on his best self to rid the world of their kind. I’m sure readers will be unequivocally cheering Abbott to the gory end. This is, in the main, a fast-paced plot driven novel.
The gritty authenticity bouncing off the page comes from the author’s real-life experience. Ollie Ollerton, like his protagonist, is an ex-military man, having served as a Royal Marine Commando in Northern Ireland and Iraq. Following that, he acted as a private security contractor carrying out anti-child-trafficking charity work in Southeast Asia. Now featuring in the television show: SAS: Who dares wins and SAS Australia, and, of course, writing thriller novels. All or Nothing is the second Alex Abbott novel, salient points from the first, Scar Tissue, are briefly covered for new readers’ benefit.
Despite the fast pace of the text, readers might notice two editorial glitches. On page 108 a lone ‘t’ remains at the end of a line, while the bulk of the word ‘rap’ begins the next line. And, a rather odd error, the deceased grandfather to Ross Norton, Sir Charles Norton, becomes father when a photo is produced by a secondary character (page 40) Kennedy produced a framed photograph of Ross’s father, the late Sir Charles Norton… Ross’s father is in fact Clifford Levine.
The cast of characters requires concentration during the initial chapters. Our hero Alex Abbott’s relationship with the love of his life, Tess, ended in her refusing a marriage proposal. Tess was bound for Oxford and is now a successful lawyer and married with two children. Abbott’s past life is filled in for the reader; he married Fiona and had a son, Nathan. The marriage dissolves and Fiona marries ‘Cuckoo’, so named by Abbott when Cuckoo moves into their marital home. Cuckoo is a high up in the Ministry of Defence and is an all-round good guy helping Abbott when Nathan is missing, eventually found dead. And continues to be a vital source of information when Tess pops up to tell Abbott that his dead brother, supposedly drowned as a child, did in fact not drown but was rather a victim of a pedophile group. This of course sends Abbott on a revenge mission.
Chapter 8, readers jump into the lives of the notorious, with a respectable veneer, Nortons. Sir Charles Norton has just died and his estate is of great interest to his family. Sir Charles built an empire the foundational roots of which were atrocious and corrupt in the worse possible way; his wife Juliet had aided him in this project. And now his daughter Montana, grandsons Ross and Simon Norton and Montana’s ex husband Clifford Levine are gathered to hear the family lawyer read The Last Will & Testament of Sir Charles. The details of which are strange but in keeping with Sir Charles Norton’s bizarre outlook on life. Abbott becomes involved in this family as he seeks revenge for his brother’s death. That is as much as can be said for fear of straying into spoiler territory. The plot, and its cast of primary and secondary characters, twists and turns with some unexpected results, ending in a cliffhanger that requires another sequel in the life and times of Alex Abbott.
By Ollie Ollerton
Allen & Unwin