Five Star Review By Simon on 21 May 2016:
Hearts of Steel
It’s very rare that a book has an effect on me as substantial as Access Denied. Earlier I sat down to listen to the opening few chapters and a little over four hours later I’ve finished it. I have to put my cards on the table and say that I knew Dave, the author, in the early years of the story and have met the main characters. Sadly I lost touch with him while the extraordinary events actually unfurled. At the time I knew him this was a mundane story of a split modern family like thousands of others. That’s the honesty part over but note that this isn’t the Amazon Vine program I bought my copy without Dave even knowing about it.
That said, as I read the reviews on Amazon.co.uk it quickly became obvious that this book is touching all manner of people in similar ways. This is a story that describes the precious relationship between a father and daughter and shines a stark light on the sheer inhumanity of the government departments set up to manage things when they go wrong. It shows how fantastic relationships between people can be and how, when things break down they can get twisted into something awful. It brings us this beautiful relationship which is as strong as any parent-child bond but fatally flawed by a terrible lie that underpinned it.
Dave chose to narrate this book himself and he does a very decent job of it. Why five stars though? Well this is a story you need to hear from him, understanding that the guy talking is the guy being talked about gives this a genuine authenticity. Dave doesn’t paint himself as a saint, he doesn’t pretend that he was perfect and in fact I wonder if the verbatim communications included reveal more than he realises. The real point is though that this is an ordinary guy being put through hell by a situation so unnecessary and seemingly so unreal.
So, my review undoubtedly has bias in it but read the Amazon reviews and you will see that this is a genuinely powerful book. It’s a book that reveals much about modern life and will have you both tearful and angry by the end. Even if you have a heart of steel, this ought to melt it or at least soften the edges a bit.
Since finishing I’ve told Dave that I haven’t reacted to a book like this since reading To Kill A Mockingbird as a kid. Frankly the thought of bracketing the gobby but likeable git from Portsmouth I used to know with Harper Lee is ludicrous, but after reading “Access Denied” I *needed* a laugh!
Don’t hesitate with this one. Just get it.