Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Loose Head Delivers In Rugby Thriller

I'm not typically one for thrillers. I like to stick to my background in History, Political Science, and the occasional classic. So I was pleasantly surprised when Loose Head pulled me in after only a few pages. Loose Head tells the story of Dex Reed, a member of Hendon Specialist Crime Directorate and the Hastewicke Gentlemen old-boys, who finds himself faced with a dilemma between his career and his team for the first time. Naturally the story focuses on trying to preserve the relationships built over years of playing rugby together with the death of a teammate. However, rather than being simplistic and predictable, author Jeff Keithly does well to not tread on cliches. Instead, he keeps the reader guessing until the end.

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The book isn't perfect. There are a few things that I personally wouldn't have done but that is more of personality thing of mine than an overall criticism of the book. I honestly was surprise how much I wasn't able to guess where the plot was going. That's key in a thriller and it is done well here. Even your non-rugby playing but thriller loving friends would enjoy the book.

Rugby players in particular will enjoy Loose Head because it addresses the complicated relationships in every club. Teammates will fight for each other on the pitch but often don't know a lot about each others personal lives until something happens. It creates for an interesting vacuum that Keithly does a great job exploring. He also makes a strong effort to describe the feeling of a rugby tour and the camaraderie that goes along with it. If you've been having a hard time explaining what it is like to be on a rugby team to someone who has never played, give them a copy of Loose Head and they'll soon know.

Without giving away too much of the plot one of the things I found most interesting about the book was the focus on the effects of rugby tours. They are an important part of the rugby culture but if they aren't done responsibly can often have very negative effect.  As we've seen with Delaware, Army, and Utah over the last year rugby has a reputation among non-players that isn't always positive. Some of that comes from players being away from their homes and with a group of guys the love to have fun with. There is nothing wrong with that but it's important to remember that even if you are away from home you still represent your team and your family. I'm not sure that is what Keithly was going for but that is what stood out to me at the moment. Something else may stand out to you.

Like I said, I'm usually not one for thrillers but I really enjoyed Loose Head. It's well written, entertaining, and something all rugby fans should read once.

If you liked a copy of Loose Head you can order one through Rugby Marketplace for $14 plus shipping.

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