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Customer reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars

on March 17, 2017
I stayed up until the wee hours of the morning to finish this story. The author did an excellent job putting the reader in the trenches of WW I with the crew of veterans, all damaged in one way or another by the horrors of the war, as they hunt for a lost shipment of gold. Betrayal and death -- who will get the treasure and who will get a golden grave?
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on January 29, 2014
The Golden Grave is the second novel in David Lawlor's "Liam Mannion" series. Liam is once again in exile in England in 1920 when he runs into a war buddy from the trenches in France. The novel’s conflict is set almost immediately as a group of World War I veterans enter into a dangerous project that involves digging into the battlefield grounds of France to find the pot of gold.

The love and lust affair between Liam and Sabine offers some sexual tension, but also provides a buffer between the tedious task of unearthing the treasure and the trauma all the former soldiers feel upon returning to the arena of so many deaths—some of which they caused.

If the story verges toward romanticism, Lawlor skillfully and abruptly changes the tone with flashes of jealousy and flashbacks of war. He uses contrasts to create vivid sketches of the setting as he does in this scene when the veterans make it back to the small village in Flanders that became their touchstone during the worst days of the war:

“The road ran like a scar across Flanders’ ruined landscape. Amongst the straggling wild flowers and sparse grass patches, the animals watched beneath a noon-day sun that shone bright and pristine. A black rat paused in its scavenging; its head tilted high, the whiskers twitching expectantly as it listened to the soft shuffle of booted feet.”

Liam Mannion is impacted by the war, yet in him Lawlor has created a sympathetic and very human main character. He loves, yet he’s afraid of rejection so he holds back. He’s loyal, yet his temptations lead him to places that test his loyalty. He doesn’t always win those personal battles, but he manages to find his way back to remind us all it’s never too late to find redemption.

The Golden Grave is more graphic and more violent than Tan. The horror of war and its impact on individuals plays a role in the plot, but perhaps the quest for gold to quench an unquenchable greed drives the conflict and extracts tolls far more costly than war. It also points to human failings of the worst kind.

Lawlor’s talent is evident in the fast-paced and moving story of war, greed, and passion found within the pages of The Golden Grave. I’m not one for war stories in general, but The Golden Grave is so suspenseful and action-packed and filled with historical importance that I enjoyed every minute reading this book.

Note to Mr. Lawlor: I hope there’s a third “Liam Mannion” novel in the works.
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on April 29, 2014
This book kept me on the edge of my seat.tried to figure out who would end up the winner. Kept me guessing till the last page which is what makes a good read!
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on September 4, 2015
Very good follow up to Tan. Great read. I enjoyed the characters and the writing is very good
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on June 6, 2014
This was a good book and kept me interested through most of the book, but it's slightly predictable. The author does help the reader to care about the characters and does create some mystery as if it ISN'T going to be predictable - but it ended up how I kind of thought it would.
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on April 28, 2014
I reserve 5 stars for books at would definitely read again. Well written, although there are some typos. Enjoyed the WWI history.
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on September 15, 2014
good book
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on April 29, 2013
Review is based on a copy of the novel provided by the author for that purpose.

What would it take to convince a group of British ex-servicemen to return to the killing fields of Flanders after the Great War? The very location where, just two years earlier, they had endured a hellish, kill-or-be-killed existence in the trenches, knee-deep in stinking mud, senses assaulted by the pounding of artillery, and surrounded by the dead -- many whose bodies were violently torn apart by shells and bullets, taking part in futile mass charges into spitting machine guns, choking on mustard gas.

What would it take? Why, gold of course. Enough of the precious metal to set a man up for a lifetime of luxury, enough to make him forget the horrors he experienced -- and continues to live through in heart-stopping nightmares -- in the very same clay he'll have to dig through to recover that gold.

In "The Golden Grave," David Lawlor (@LawlorDavid) has once again written a cracking yarn set during the post-war period, filled with exciting action, intrigue and well-drawn characters led by Liam Mannion, the protagonist of the author's debut novel, "Tan" (see my review).

Liam, who is on the run from the British after his actions as a member of the Irish Republican Army, and his mates embark on the adventure at the behest of Sabine, a stunning temptress who ran a bar behind the lines where British soldiers would go to enjoy a brief respite from the mayhem of the front. Many a man had his eye on Sabine, and she was more than happy to encourage their interest while selling them beer and cigarettes.

Sabine's a survivor who just happens to know about a shipment of gold that went missing in the aftermath of the British offensive on Messines Ridge, which has been called "the greatest mining attack" in history. Nineteen large mines were detonated within seconds of each other along a narrow front, temporarily collapsing German resistance as well as the bunker hiding the gold.

There are several sub-plots in play and Mr. Lawlor does an exceptional job keeping the reader in suspense, never giving too much away while at the same time letting us know things are not what they seem. Although the pace of the story moves smoothly, the truth is revealed slowly, to great effect, and there are more than a few surprises in store right up to the end.

The author sets a wonderful scene, especially in the ruined battlefield. Two years after the war life is returning to normal, but the scars are never far from view: flowers bloom around shell holes and livestock graze in fields lined by trenches choking with skeletal bodies and discarded war equipment. The war also left indelible marks on the men who fought it, from the aforementioned nightmares to other, more serious behaviors. As he did in "Tan," Mr. Lawlor explores the emotional cost of the Great War, which for many men was both the greatest and most exciting undertaking of their lives and the most horrible.

"The Golden Grave" is a deeply satisfying story that hits all the right marks: action, adventure, plot twists and surprises, great setting, a bit of romance and memorable characters. I loved it and recommend it wholeheartedly. I became a fan of Mr. Lawlor after reading "Tan," and hope he keeps writing stories like that and "The Golden Grave." For more from him, check out his blog,
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on May 11, 2013
A post WW1 impressive historical novel and the sequel to `Tan', The Golden Grave picks up with Liam Mannion in search of gold. A train cargo packed with enough bullion bars to persuade Liam and his war buddy to return to the horrific battlefields of France once again.

Gold wasn't the only lure; there is a gold seeking, conniving bitch named Sabine, a former lover of Liam, who has recruited a group of servicemen to carry out her dirty work.

Lawlor takes his readers back in time by reliving the horrors during battles. Buried bodies, active explosives, and weapons all come alive in their search for gold. The stench and sight of war being thrown in their faces make the men sick and twisted with greed. Everyone has a plan, there are secrets and lies, and this is what kept me engaged from page one.

What differentiates a good book from a great book is unpredictability. The Golden Grave is packed with surprises throughout the story, none of which takes away from the historical details.

Who ends up with the gold, if anyone? Was it worth the return to hell?

I recommend The Golden Grave to readers who enjoy a great historical novel; it's an entertaining way to learn history.
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on May 28, 2013
In THE GOLDEN GRAVE, David Lawlor tells a "can't put it down" story wrapped in a fascinating period of history. In this story, Irishman Liam Mannion and several of his war buddies return to the French countryside where they'd only recently fought in the deadly trenches during WWI. It had not occurred to me that years after fighting ended, there would still be teams of people out recovering bodies from those battlefields. Getting my head around that idea alone made the war and the aftermath as vivid as anything else Lawlor could have written. Add in the likelihood of encountering canisters of mustard gas and other unexploded ordinance, and the men are literally taking their lives in their hands again as they pursue the treasure that brought them there.

As he did in TAN, the first novel in this series, Lawlor created complex male and female characters I loved and others I loved to hate. But don't get too attached. As in war, there is no assurance any of the characters in this novel will make it out of Flanders Fields alive. Plot twists and action as fast paced as anything you'll find in a James Bond movie kept me on my toes. In fact, as I read, I could easily imagine Liam Mannion as James Bond.

THE GOLDEN GRAVE is a sequel that can be read independently, though I don't recommend it. TAN is another great story and it provides important backstory for Mannion. If you enjoy historical action adventure, after you read Lawlor's novels, you'll be as ready as I am for the third book in this series.
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