Book Review: All That Glitters by Les Cowan

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Updated July 30, 2018

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She escaped,into a trap.

It was a trap. Her dream had been to escape Belarus for a new life in the West, but in Edinburgh the dream becomes a nightmare. Now the choice is simple. Comply or die.

Meanwhile, Pastor David Hidalgo’s mind is reeling with too many things that don’t add up. Accounts showing millions that shouldn’t be there. A trusted friend dead, with illegal files on his computer. A grieving widow convinced her husband was framed.

Could there be a connection between people trafficking, a new church that isn’t all it appears to be and a financial investigator who got too close? David and Tati’s worlds are about to collide. Will either escape unscathed?

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All That Glitters by Les Cowan
(Updated: July 30, 2018)
Overall rating 
David Hidalgo is recovering from his unexpected adventure which featured in "Benefit of the Doubt" the first novel in a series. The first novel left everything on a cliff-hanger, something the author has promised never to do again! Thankfully both David and his girlfriend, Gillian survived and it was actually a by-stander who got caught by the bullet, thankfully not fatally. He turns out to be a hacker called "Spade" and he is someone that David is keen to meet after putting him in jeopardy.

David is a part-time pastor of an Edinburgh Church, he also teaches Spanish part-time and has an uncanny knack of getting caught up in other people's problems. In this novel, he heads to a meeting with other church leaders to discuss what is church is doing well, after the meeting his friend mentions some financial irregularities he has found in a churches accounts. He has reported it to his seniors at the bank but feels like it's not being taken seriously. A few days later he is found by his wife apparently having hanged himself in his garage after his morning run and child pornography found on his computer.

His widow, with nowhere else to turn, calls David and he and his girlfriend turn up as the police are wrapping up their forensics checks. The widow insists that no matter what it might look like her husband did not kill himself and she believes that it was murder.

As this story is being told, we are also given the story of Tati. Tati is a young lady from Belarus who wants to escape the life that she expects to have. She saves up $15,000 to buy her passage to the West, but where she ends up is not what she thought. Passed from one network to the other and broken to comply with her new owners eventually she ends up locked in a house with other girls in a similar situation to her.

David Hidalgo soon finds himself drawn into the mystery but could it possibly be a church behind the 'suicide' of his friend, human trafficking and how can befriending a hacker really make the difference?

I love the fact that in both of these novels Les Cowan brings us a believable character in David Hidalgo. He's known success in ministry and trauma's in his life. Things have happened that have shaken his faith and that is still being played out as the character develops. A lot of Christian fiction actually doesn't say too much about church or what Christianity is, it's enough that a character is identified as a Christian and that the novel doesn't have explicit sex or violence. In these books though the church is central and the characters refer back to a theme that is being discussed as it works out in the plot. For this novel it's the nature of good and bad, the wheat and the tares and how that in people there is both good and bad, and what that means for us and society around us.

In our world today we don't see slavery all around us in the way that it once was, but it still happens and this book highlights the nature of how it can be hidden under our noses in society. This also highlights the humanity of the people involved, as this case heads towards it's resolution there is at times discussion of the girls who are seen by some as commodities and others as victims.

Like the previous story in the series this is a well plotted book. The breaks from what is happening now to David, Gillian and the other characters fill us in on the life of the girls and what they have to put up with and how they play a part in the plot moving forward. This story feels grounded in reality and moves forward one step at a time but the pace is quick as any good crime and thriller novel should be. In fact the pace is pretty relentless until everything seems to be wound up and then it slows a little towards the very end making you feel like everything is wrapped up nicely, and just as you are relaxing and you think everything is over there is a little bit of an added twist.

I would recommend that you read "Benefit of the Doubt" before you read this novel if you can, there is a lot of background that is laid out in that story that gives an insight into why David Hidalgo is who he is. The author doesn't feel the need to go back into this and recover old ground too much, although he gives enough for this to make sense.

This book is well written, well paced and will keep you reading long after you should have turned the lights out for the night!

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