The Handover review

 

Written by: David M. Barnett @davidmbarnett

Published by Trapeze @trapezebooks

 

“Daisy does nights and Nate does days, which causes no end of hilarity at the Manchester Museum of Social History. ‘It should be Daisy on days and Nate on nights,’ Marion on the reception says to her at least once a month, as though Daisy hasn’t yet got the joke.

Daisy is the night security guard at the Manchester Museum of Social History. She takes her job very seriously, protecting the museum from troublemakers and anyone who openly mocks the fact they have a dinosaur on display.

Nate works the day shift, though he’d be more suited as a museum guide the way he chats with the visitors. Daisy doesn’t approve: every one of them is a potential threat and befriending them could impair his judgement.

Daisy and Nate don’t have much to do with each other except for the five minutes when they’re shifts overlap at handover. He passes the torch over to her – like a baton – always with a smirk on his face, and she asks him for a full report of the day, which he gives reluctantly. It’s the only interaction they have… until strange things begin to happen at the museum.

Daisy notices priceless objects are going missing but then reappearing, with no explanation (and nothing showing on the CCTV, which is why she doesn’t trust technology). No one believes her except Nate, and he agrees to help her solve the mystery.

They soon discover they have a lot more in common than they realised… and their investigations uncover more than just the truth. Could they have feelings for one another?”

 

I’ve read precisely one romance novel in my life.

This.

To say I was unfamiliar with the genre would be as plain as a pound shop sandwich.

Normally if it doesn’t feature swords, lasers or sometimes laser swords books don’t often grab my attention.

There are sometimes exceptions, but if you’d asked me a year ago if a book about a love story set in the Manchester Museum of Social History would have held my attention, let alone captivated me I would have asked you just how many Aliens were in it.

David M. Barnett has a real talent. This is unfortunately about to sound like the backhanded compliment of the year but I promise you it is a compliment. He has a real talent for writing about nothing.

For large swathes of this book absolutely nothing seems to be happening. The Romeo and Juliet of our tale see each other for five minutes a day. Some how out of this Barnett manages to tease out a relationship, two mysteries, multiple sub plots about bullying and family relationships and manages to tie them up into not just a working, but enjoyable conclusion. Barnett writes about nothing in the same way Douglas Adams did. The “nothing” contains everything. I’m damned if I can see the joins.

I’ve seen this bandied about as a Rom-com. It’s a little lighter on the comedy than some of his other books. there aren’t as many gags but when they do show up his comedic skills and timing shine through. I would take an entire series based on the exploits of Derek’s Dominos for example.

Of our star crossed lovers, one of them isn’t very likeable for the majority of the book. The reasons for this become apparent but some how Barnett still manages to make you root for them.  The narration switches between Daisy and Nate’s first person perspective and this was a little strange at first ( especially on the audiobook version ) but the jarring me out of what had just happened soon gave way to me rushing to find out the others perspective on events that just transpired.

In a past review I referred to David M. Barnett as the “Stephen King of Poignant” all of his books feature a real air of sadness and melancholy. Daisy’s childhood trauma, the break up of Nate’s marriage and relationship with his abusive ex-boxer father all tug mercilessly on the heart strings. Daisy’s mother’s battle with cancer was particularly well handled and reminded me of my own experience with my mothers decline. Barnett’s skill is writing in a way that links his readers real life experiences without swinging a sledgehammer at them.

As sad and tear jerking as the The Handover is it’s also funny, up-lifting and a great story with a couple of twists you might not see coming.

I’m glad it was David M. Barnett who took my romance novel virginity. I’m not off to browse the Mills & Boon section just yet, but this may just have just broadened my horizons enough that I’m willing to allow some of cupids arrows take to take aim at my reading choices.

You can buy The Handover on Kindle HERE

You can buy The handover on Audible HERE

The Handover review
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