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Excerpt from The Watchman

Secret Watch –

   I stayed up until I was really tired waiting for Dad to come home.  I knew it was later than usual because Jake and Joss normally stay up for Dad to come home.  They had gone to bed ages before Dad was supposed to be home.  So the whole house was dead quiet.  I could still hear Mum downstairs so I went down to see if Dad had come in without making any noise.  She was crying.  I blew her some kisses and went back to bed.  I was so tired.  I got into bed and tried to stay awake for Dad.  Where was he?  He was normally home and in bed by now.  I tried hard to stay awake but fell asleep by mistake.


I make this 3 five star reviews now.  All unbiased … all honest.  Here’s the pick of the bunch…

View at by Brian Braden

The Rundown

What is the difference between a good book and a great book?  People talk about a good book, perhaps recommend it to a friend or even rate it on Amazon. On the other hand, a great book connects in a very personal way. A  great book is inherently honest, without a shred of manipulation. It gets inside  you… tugs, digs, and performs reconstructive surgery on your heart and soul. A  great book leaves you no place to hide and forever changes you to the day you die. Is The Watchman by debut novelist Matt Langford such a book?

Adam is a mentally disabled teenager caught up in the everyday  maelstrom we call life. He cannot speak beyond a few simple words. Most of his  language is made up and known only to him. He possesses a very limited grasp of the past, with even less understanding of the future. Everything exists in the now, and revolves around him. Adam’s family, which is the same as  saying his entire universe, is falling apart. His younger brother and sister  are growing up and changing in ways he cannot comprehend. His parents’ marriage slowly grows cold under strain of a father’s joblessness and alcoholism. Adam is also changing, physically becoming a man, imposing more unrelenting demands and needs upon an already stressed family. The book begins with a short entry from an expecting mother’s journal, full of hope and love for the baby she carries inside. The Watchman ends with a father’s touching connection with his oldest son. The Watchman is an ambitious book by any standard, but Matt Langford took this challenge to a higher level.

The author tells this story exclusively through Adam’s perspective. In doing so, he forces the reader to actively participate and make their own translations of Adam’s world, their own conclusions about the motivations of the “normal” people surrounding him. Langford pulls this off masterfully. With short, simple and brutally effective prose, Langford creates more character development, more humanity, in a few sentences than most authors can create in whole chapters. In only 180 pages Langford boils a family’s existence down to its raw essence.

This is the point in my review where I usually point out  something I found wrong with the book. If there were editing problems with The Watchman, I didn’t notice. I was too busy losing myself in the story. For two days it took over my life. A book hasn’t done that to me since I was a kid.

Is The Watchman a Top Pick? Of course, but good books can be Top Picks. “Top Pick” seems like such a small kudo for such a profound novel. So, does The Watchman qualify as a great book?

A few nights ago I attended my child’s school play. During the presentation loud, inappropriate laughter and other strange noises emanated from the back row. There, an obviously mentally disabled boy of perhaps thirteen squirmed next to his mother. He smiled, touched, flailed and spoke in a language known only to him. Tenderly, and with the utmost patience, his mother tried to simultaneously restrain her boy while watching her other child in the play. It could have been a scene right out of The Watchman. Until the day I die I will never look at a mentally disabled person, or their family, again without thinking of Adam.

This great novel earns Five out of Five Stars.

Check out the profile and work of the supremely taleneted historical author, Jim Wills.



Name:          Jim Wills

Book Titles:  A Few Men Faithful: A Kavanagh Story I (A)

Philly MC: A Kavanagh Story II (B)

Shooter in a Plague Year: A Kavanagh Story III (C)

A Hard Gemlike Flame: A Kavanagh Story IV (D)

Tools Are Made, Born Are Hands: Baking True Artisan Breads in a

Wood-Fired Oven (E)

Formats:       (A) Paperback, $14.95; ebook, $2.99

(B) Paperback, $19.95; ebook, $2.99

(C) Paperback, $19.95; ebook, $2.99

(D) Paperback, $19.95, ebook, $2.99

(E) Paperback, $29.95


Dates:           (A) 2009/revised 2012, (B)2010, (C) 2010, (D) 2012, (E) 2009


Genres:         (A-D) historical fiction, (E) cookbook


(A) A Few Men Faithful is the first of four Kavanagh stories. It sets the stage, defines the Kavanagh family and tells of a troubled land and an equally troubled romance amid war and treachery. Time span: 1916 to 1924 in Dublin, County Cork and Northern Ireland. Major events: Easter Rising, Secret War, War of Independence, the Civil War. This last is little known and less explored, especially through the eyes of a soldier on the losing side.


The main character, Danny Kavanagh, escapes Dublin in 1916 only to become one of the Twelve Apostles, that squad of executioners Michael Collins used to shut the spying eyes in Dublin Castle. As a soldier he is haunted, nearly driven mad, by what he has done, what he cannot do, yet still hold onto that deathless dream of a united Ireland. He pays the price, finally, as an exile and IRA emissary in North America. Anyone interested in high-speed historical fiction will find A Few Men Faithful to their liking.


(B) Philly MC is the story of Jack Kavanagh, grandson of Danny Kavanagh of A Few Men Faithful, the first of the Kavanagh stories. Jack’s is a twisted, tortured life. He struggles with his Irish Republican heritage; whether to side with the IRA, even join them, or follow in his father’s footsteps and reject violence as a solutiion. This is the dark backdrop for the even darker streets of inner-city Philadelphia during the 1960s and 70s. Jack’s world is a motorcycle underground peopled by the eccentric, the criminal, the crooked cops and agents, the outlaw clubs, mobsters, hookers, junkies and crazies that almost lead to his death by stabbing during the Mummers’ Parade on Broad Street.


He loves twice and loses. Only a high speed flight out of the country saves him. Only a hideout in the far, far north gives him the anonymity he needs. Only killing the one man who has pursued him all his life quiets his deeply buried demons. Only the final love of his life gives him the personal peace he has been seeking all his life.


Written in the first person, Philly MC portrays a dark, high speed world of violence, betrayal and blood. Ultimately, it concerns salvation.


(C) In 2018, peace, possibly fair, possibly lasting, is getting far too close, too real, for the hardliners on both sides in Northern Ireland. Shooter in a Plague Year, the third Irish historical novel in the Kavanagh saga, describes one possible outcome, a nightmare scenario that completes the gory chapters of the past. What happens if the moderates are eliminated? What happens if the New IRA, just formed on one hand, and the shadowy Core Command on the other, finally square off to determine who owns Ulster, all of it? Both claim the Red Hand of Ulster as their symbol; both claim nationalism as their own high ground. Each is as devious and secretive as the other. Who’s marked for death? By whom? Why? Shooter in a Plague Year follows the twists and turns, machinations and prejudices, of these paramilitary groups as they finalize the 800 year old war in the North. High tech weapons are at the forefront; ancient hatreds are the bedrock.


(D) A Hard Gemlike Flame, the fourth title in the Kavanagh Series, tells a tumultuous adult tale of love, passion, jealousy, rage, hate and compassion between Mick Kavanagh and Cathleen Murray. Both characters are strong, both are flawed, both have difficulty expressing emotion. Only together are their flaws repaired, their emotions clear. Only their love for each other keeps them sane—and safe.


(E)  This is a practical, hands-on guide to baking wonderful artisan breads in a wood fired brick oven. By following a typical two-day workshop at Mary G’s Artisan Breads, it guides the reader through all the little known techniques required to manage a wood fired environment to maximum effect, including how to adapt favorite bread and pizza recipes to this environment. With over two hundred photographs that illustrate everything from shaping methods and baking stages to oven types and construction, this is a definitive guide to wood fired oven selection, construction, insulation and use. The appendices alone contain a motherlode of information on baking equipment, gear sources, oven plans, starter maintenance and mixer use.


few good






Jim Wills, author of the four historical fiction titles in the Kavnagh saga, has had careers as varied as the novels he writes.  He has been a motorcycle mechanic, academic, hard rock miner, book editor, commercial writer, mason, baker and an author.

His lifelong interest in Irish history and literature, with all their triumphs and failures, forms the bedrock for these novels.  Each one stands on its own, but they are more rewarding read as a continuous history of the Kavanagh family, in Ireland, in North America, from 1916 to 2020.  His fascination with dialect, street vocabulary, and musical lyrics that define a place, a culture, and a time are evident throughout.

He lives in rural Ontario with his partner, Wendy Carlson and, betimes, Wendy’s daughter, Kate Amies.

Other works by the same author include Tools Are Made, Born Are Hands: Baking True Artisan Breads in a Wood-Fired Oven.




Facebook Author Page: 13 likes

Facebook Personal Page:   80 friends

Twitter: @Hull Drive, 12 Followers

LinkedIn: , 116 connections




Amazon link:




Barnes and Noble:


…and free to download until the 10th May!  Fill your boots…


dog got bored with all the talking and came over to sit next to me.  I looked at the muddy ground and saw a small
apple with lots of brown bits that looked like poo or chocolate.  Mum hadn’t opened the sandwiches yet so I
bent down and picked up the apple.
Should apples have little worms in them?
I decided that this was Adinna and everything must be good, so I ate the
apple and the worms.  It tasted horrible
so I spat it at the dog.  The dog didn’t
like that.



The Watchman will not be available on smashwords for a few days.  No fear!  Simply download it for free as a kindle ebook on Amazon for a few days.  It’ll be back up on smashwords next week.  Promise…poss watman cover


Extract from The Watchman

Posted: April 24, 2013 in Uncategorized

Chapter 3 – Adam’s Gran falls down holes

December 1988

…I just carried on with my cake.  It tasted so nice.  It had cream.  And cherries.  I thought so hard about which part of the cake to eat next that I hardly felt it when somebody touched me on the shoulder.  I ignored them, though, because my cake tasted so nice.  Somebody touched my shoulder again.  The cherries…

“Look who’s here, Adam,” said Mum.

I wanted to be left alone.  My cake tasted so nice.  The cherries were really sweet.  Then I smelt a smell that I knew really well.  A nice smell – I always felt happy with that smell.  I felt another touch on my shoulder.  The smell was really strong.  It smelt like the flowers in the wood and the burnt logs from our fire – both at the same time.  I put my special spoon down and turned around to see the person touching me.  Gran!  My Gran!  She’d got off a train and come to see me.  My Gran.  A little while before I wasn’t sure if I was ever going to see her again – and then she was stood right behind me.  My Gran.

I screamed, jumped out of my chair and gave her the biggest hug I’d ever given anybody.  I kissed her on the cheek and looked at her.  She had my cake stuck all over her face.  She laughed quietly – she always laughs quietly.  I hugged her again and said all the words I knew so that she knew that I was trying to talk to her.  I said ‘alloaw’, ‘tomorrow’, ‘Pom-Pom Parlar tomorrow’, “MaMummy tomorrow, ‘toylou’ and ‘dinnaow’.  I put them all together and kept laughing.  Gran stroked my cheek and said something.

“Ohh, you’re a lovely boy.  Give me another hug.”

She hugged me again.  I squeezed her really tight.  I felt so happy my Gran had come to see me.  I kept talking to her and hugging her.  She carried on laughing quietly and I grabbed her hand.  I could see her little suitcase on the floor by her feet – the same suitcase she always brought with her.  Next to that was a bag with prezzies.  She’d come to stay for Chrimbo.  That made me feel even happier, but just to make sure she stayed and didn’t get back on the train I let go of her hand, picked up her suitcase and gave it to Dad.  I then picked up the bag with the prezzies and gave it to Mum.  I then grabbed my Gran’s hand and started to walk her back to the car – this way we would all be at the car with all Gran’s stuff.  I didn’t care about the rest of my cake.  The quicker we all got in the car the sooner we’d be at home in Adinna and I’d be sure that she was definitely staying for Chrimbo.

In fact, I went back and finished my cake.  I kissed her again and got cake all over her face.  She smiled and pulled a tissue from her sleeve.

poss watman cover12 years in the mixer and, finally, Adam’s journey is available to read.  Available on all ebook platforms, you set the price.  Or download the first 2 chapters for free…

The Watchman

The Watchman is a fictional novel told through the eyes of Adam, a young man with a learning disability, as he matures into adulthood and attempts to make sense of the disintegration of his family.
Set at the end of the eighties we follow the Olsen’s through their upheavals as they begin the final stretch of their family years.  We begin as the family move into rural Devon and try to settle into country life.  Adam is at first quietly content with his new life, new home and new dog.  He makes interesting friends and enjoys his days at a nearby day centre.  Adam’s love of his family and wonderfully endearing (if flawed) nature comes to the fore one Christmas.  He terrorises and smothers his long suffering Gran in equal amounts, supplying her with acts of wonderful menace and heartbreaking love.  We move onto a visit from a family friend who changes Adam’s view of those closest to him forever – he begins to realise how fundamental his differences really are, and that he may never make a ‘real’ friend.
The first cracks begin to appear, however, when he realises that his two younger siblings, Jake and Joss, are growing up and spending more time away from the family. It is also apparent that his father, Pete, who although clearly well meaning yet largely absent from Adam’s life, is on the verge of leaving the home.   Adam finds this situation impossible to understand – why do families break up?  Why do people hurt one another?  And, crucially, why do people have to change?  He can’t understand how his closest family, this foundation of his existence, won’t stay with him when, crucially, he never realised there was any other option.
As time goes on Adam’s behaviour deteriorates, culminating in a violent attack on his mother – the absolute centre of his world.  He realises his mistake and makes a pact with himself never to hurt those around him ever again.  Sadly, it is too late for him, and his worst nightmare is realised – the family as he knows it is split and gone forever.
The book is based upon my own childhood experience of growing up with a brother with a severe learning difficulty.  Although all the characters in The Watchman are fictitious, most of the events are based upon real anecdotes and encounters from our teenage years.  He never articulated a feeling or a need.  Everything he communicated required a noise or a physical act.  I cannot begin to comprehend the hardships he must’ve endured in life – not being able to make himself understood or be able to make sense of the world occurring around him.  So this novel is an attempt to see the world through his eyes.  I doubt I have captured even a degree of his real frustrations or bewilderment, but I hope it will allow the reader to go partway into the mind of someone who, essentially, just loved his family.


Chapter 1 – Tomorrow

It’s a little while later and I think we’re home.  I’ve been on holiday before so I know how it feels when we will eventually go home.  Holidays normally mean walks, arshee’s and Dad going off at night.  The last few days have been about unpacking, sandwiches and shouting.  We never have sandwiches on holiday.  And we’ve only had one long walk.

This time we’re not going home.  We’re home already.  I’m pretty certain of that.

The day we left our old home was a funny day.  I woke up to this horrible smell and all sticky bits on my face and pillow.  Dad walked in and said ‘For fuck’s sake, Adam’ and then shouted for Mum.  He went off muttering ‘today of all days’ but I didn’t understand his words.  Jake and Jocelyn poked their heads round the door, smiled, and ran off.

I wasn’t sure what to do so I just stayed in bed without moving.  Mum then walked in with a smile.  She smiles a lot.  She walked towards me in a way that made me feel a little better.  Mum always does that in the morning.  She helped me out of bed and gave me a cuddle.

I thought about running off and playing with her, but my belly felt a little funny, so I walked to the bathroom and started to run a bath.  I took all my clothes off and sat on the toilet watching the water fill up the bath.  The sound and look of the water filling up to the top of the bath always makes me feel happy.  I don’t why.

I hardly noticed Mum walk in a few minutes later.  She came into the bathroom, shut the door, put her hand in the water and stopped the water from running.  She came over to me and smiled.  I could hear Dad shouting at Jake and Joss.  I never know if I’m going to spend an hour or a minute in the bath until I’m actually in there.  I climbed into the bath on that morning and didn’t like the heat of it that much, so decided to make it a short one.  After a short scrub I got up quickly and covered Mum and the walls with water.

Just need to publish the thing now!  Here’s an excerpt…


Chapter 1

      I am too old to fly.  My wings are tattered and my tail feathers worn.  I spend my days sat amongst filth and piss on the rooftop of this vast hospital.  I am able to walk only a few paces to the edge of the rooftop and look either into the city (to the east) or out into the countryside (the west).  The ambulances stream in and out.  People limp to the main doors and drop their scraps of food.  I watch them, my hunger causing me to ache all over, unable to adequately shake the fleas from my feathers.  The younger birds keep me company and bring me those scraps, yet my eyes are faded and I’m unable to focus properly on their blurred faces.

On clear days I can make out the shape ocean to the south and the green of the forest to the north.  But the faces of the other birds remain elusive to my tired eyes.

The seagulls named this place ten summers ago.  Personally, I feel the hospital would have sufficed.  Or the Royal.  I believe this has a certain quality and is, of course, the proper name.  But the seagulls came with their strange language and enormous wings.  They imposed their ways on the place and named my home l’hospiltálet.  Their enforcers, le Securoiré, are long since vanished.  But in a strange way they still run the show.

Major Minus Minor Minus

Posted: December 22, 2012 in Uncategorized

Major Minus Minor Minus is a place…


The twin towns of Major Minus Minor Minus exist somewhere in the middle of England – slightly north of the south; slightly south of the north.  You won’t find the place on any maps.

The mighty river, Amazonian in size and girth, is speared through the middle by an enormous rock face – like a rotten tooth rising 200 feet into the air.  The waterfall’s brilliance is tarnished only by the constant sound of the ringing Toll Bells, leftovers from the 3rd failed bridge that collapsed early in the 19th century…