A Life’s Work by John T Leonard – Book Review

  • Genre: Thriller
  • Pages: 241
  • Publisher: Pegasus Elliott Mackenzie Publishers Ltd
  • Release Date: 27 September 2018
  • My Star Rating: ✰✰✰✰

I received a free copy of this book

About the Book  

Oliver Bennett was only five years old when his mother was brutally raped and murdered and he came face to face with her killer.

Oliver has a strong and loving relationship with his father, but his childhood is deeply troubled despite psychological therapy and counselling. When Oliver decides to join the police force, his father is hopeful that Oliver has found a way to come to terms with his mother’s death.

But Mary Bennett’s killer has been released into the community after serving a life sentence. A murderer is free to live his life despite having cruelly ended a mother’s life and forever blighted a child’s future.

Has Oliver joined the police to dedicate his life to law and order, or does he have a more sinister motivation?


‘A Life’s Work’ is the third novel from the pen of a thriller author who uses the pseudonym, John T Leonard. The tale is told in the third person from the perspective of Oliver Bennett, a probationary police officer. We occasionally share the thoughts of others in the same segment but I didn’t find the head-hopping a significant issue.

It is an author’s goal to capture the attention of their readers as quickly as possible and the opening chapter of this book certainly packs a punch. We then follow Oliver through his childhood, jumping forward and occasionally stepping back. It is clear that the horrific event he witnessed as a five-year-old boy has weighed heavily on him and affected his values, his judgement, his decision-making processes and shaped his whole outlook on life.

This is a tale of good versus evil; natural justice versus the weight of the law. It’s a tale of loss and helplessness, over-compensation, guilt, grief, anger and pain; a tale of a young man haunted by childhood memories. Above all perhaps, it is ultimately a tale of retribution, in the hope of achieving closure.

The cover design is very striking; it conveys a feeling of menace and the promise of a powerful story. Whilst the plot is a little fragmented in places and the supporting characters somewhat two-dimensional, there are many positives in this book. It is clearly extremely advantageous for the author to be a service officer and this is comes through in his attention to detailed police procedure. The cynicism of the inspector regarding the National Decision Making model is very revealing and I was left wondering how many in the Police Service share this fictitious officer’s frustrations.

Structurally, it is perhaps lacking in polish and at times the pace is slightly uneven. Therefore I found the plot gripping in some places but slightly bogged down by minutiae in others. However, if you’re looking for a hard-hitting thriller, give ‘A Life’s Work’ a try. This author undoubtedly shows promise for the future and I look forward to reading his next book.

About the Author

John T Leonard has worked for the emergency services for over twenty years. His first writing project began in 2005, but was interrupted when fatherhood beckoned and was never finished. Unfortunately, given certain events since then, it may now be lost forever.

Since then, when discussing this lost project, it was suggested that he begin afresh. This led to a semi-autobiographical first release. Since then, Leonard has written continuously and has completed five projects to date. His first release by Pegasus, A Life’s Work, is in fact his third title.

Leonard primarily writes crime thrillers which, in part, draw on his true-life experiences. But, as he is an avid science-fiction and superhero fan, a recent project was targeted at a younger audience, specifically his own children, depicting his own take on a super-hero origin story.

About Julie Haiselden

Between 1999-2019, I worked in the NHS and am now a Church of England verger and National Trust room guide. I've written three published novels and am an amateur blogger. As well as being a school alumna, I occasionally tread the boards. I enjoy rambling and taking photos. Since 2016, I've been part of the reviewing team at Whispering Stories.
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