21 April 2017

A Discovered Diamonds review of TUNNEL 6 by Steve Bartholomew


 Amazon UK £1.99    £8.38
Amazon CA  $16.99

 Adventure / Romance
1860s
American Frontier

Tunnel 6 is a quirky and entertaining novel about a well-chosen period in American history that I knew nothing about beforehand and found fascinating. It is told in several different strands and, indeed, several different styles, including diary entries and a ‘confession’, and that nicely worked device held my attention well and kept the story moving along.

The novel follows the fortunes of a work camp in America building the Central Pacific railway line through the Sierra Nevada Mountains in the 1860s and specifically those trying to blast the longest tunnel – the eponymous Tunnel 6 - through granite. Centring around an engineer, a female wire operator and a saboteur sent to delay and, if possible, destroy the line, and with a fascinating side cast of Chinese workers, it offers a lively glimpse into a very interesting time.

That said, although I enjoyed Tunnel 6, it never truly grabbed me, perhaps because everything seemed to happen on a slightly superficial level. The core romance was sweet but very steady. It never seemed to hit any rocks or problems and as a result I never felt on the inside of it. That was believable in some ways as these were two very straightforward individuals but it still made it hard for me to truly care about their fate. The setting was clearly well researched and believably presented but there was no real atmosphere which, for a book set in the frozen wastes of Sierra Nevada, was a shame.

Similarly, when it came to the plot, I found it fun piecing together what had happened, but the fact that we knew the perpetrator of the attempted sabotage from the start meant that there was a lack of secrets to really keep me hooked and no one ever felt truly in jeopardy. The pace was sufficient to keep me reading but I felt that I was always waiting for the storyline to get going and found myself slightly surprised to have reached the end.

Overall, I found Tunnel 6 a fluid and fun read, but not one that really got under my skin. It will appeal to readers who are interested in this period of American Frontier history and the building of the railways.

© Joanna Barnden

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