Posts Tagged ‘Thomas Hocknell’


Published: 22 September 2016
Reviewed: 12 October 2016

4 out of 5 stars

Copy supplied by Urbane Publications in return for an honest review



Do you want to live forever? is THE question facing anyone pursuing immortality. But what happens when eternal life is disappointing, and everyone around you keeps dying?

Ben Ferguson-Cripps, a struggling writer with a surname that gets more attention than his creative endeavours, sets aside his literary ambitions to join the mysterious Life Assistance Agency. Their first case is to trace a missing person with links to the Elizabethan angel-caller Dr John Dee.

Pursued by a shadowy organisation – and the ghosts of Ben’s past – the trail leads through Europe into the historic streets of Prague, where the long-buried secrets of Dr Dee’s achievements are finally revealed, and Ben discovers there is far more to life than simply

My Thoughts & Review:

The Life Assistance Agency is a quirky and clever mystery, and a fabulous début for this author.
Ben Ferguson-Cripps finds a business card from The Life Assistance Agency and is intrigued, he is a struggling writer in need of help and a steady income so applies for a job, not realising it is run by an old acquaintance.  When he asks what is involved he finds out the Agency takes on any case, including but not limited to finding hitmen, finding jobs and bonsai trimming.
Ben and Scott work on the case of a missing man, Mr. Foxe, an eccentric lecturer.  Whilst investigating the circumstances of his disappearance they travel around Europe and desperately try to untangle the links to Alchemy and the work of a Doctor from the 1500s.  Just to make things more interesting, Ben and Scott are being followed by hired thugs from The Society of Psychical Research (The Society) who are tasked with minding all matters “otherworldly” for the safety of the general public.  

I read somewhere that this had been likened this to “The Da Vinci Code” the mystery and supernatural elements woven into an entertaining and thrilling story and I have to say I quite agree.  It’s a fun read, plenty comedic moments with some brilliant characters.  Ben is logical and serious, Scott on the other hand is the opposite so they contrast quite well.

The diary entries by Jane Dee (the wife of the 16th century Doctor) were a part of the book I can’t quite decide about.  Perhaps because the style of writing, they felt a little less like diary and more like a running narrative, however because they are written in the same style as the rest of the book it was sometimes difficult to tell where the entry stopped and the story took up again.  This could just be down to personal reading preference however, and I would urge you to read this and make up your own mind.

The author has done well to weave the past and the present together in this book to bring a fantastical tale that carries the reader off into a spiral of mayhem, madness and intrigue.

You can buy a copy of The Life Assistance Agency here.

About the Author:

Thomas Hocknell is from Kent and lives in London. He has been a social worker, car salesman and gardener. He attended the Faber Academy and The Life Assistance Agency is his first novel. His regular Idle Blogs of an Idle Fellow aims to embrace random topics of modern living, but mostly complains about other people’s inability to make decent tea. He also writes for Classic Pop magazine, the Good Men Project and The Line of Best Fit.

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