Book Review: Text Message Only Please

How often have you received a text from a number you don’t recognise and felt compelled to reply ”Who’s This”. I am one of these people and I bet that you are too but what if the unknown sender was not so friendly and what if they wanted to ensure that you have a very unpleasant day.

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A survey done by Time magazine last year stated that of the world’s estimated population of seven billion people, six billion of these people have access to mobile phones, this is a sentiment of how bizarre the world has become. take a walk into town, wherever it is you may live, how many people do you see and how many of these people are on their mobile phone or even just holding it in their hand, I’d like to wager a fair amount.  ‘Text Message Only Please‘ is a thriller in which the central character David Pilkington has a very bad day indeed and it begins with a text from an unknown person. David is a very well to do Property developer from London who lives life the way he wants to, spending money on things that some people would see as a waste, but he is about to spend is a whole lot of time that he will definitely not afford to waste. He wakes up on the morning of his best friends wedding to a text from an anonymous sender, somebody who wants to play a game with David, it begins light with the knowledge that the sender has the ring which David has been looking after as his duty as best man. David is frantic, he of course cannot let anything go wrong on the day of his best friends wedding. David is told if he can guess the senders name then the game will end, the ring will be returned and he get on with his life.  The sender tells him that their name begins with C. He quickly lists everybody he knows who’s name begins with C but the sender insists he has not guessed correctly and so the game continues and this is where the plot thickens. The sender insists that they know something about David, they believe that the death of his wife was very suspicious indeed and believe that he was the one who caused it and they want nothing more than for David to admit it. David must go where and do what he is told and if he does not then the sender will make sure that some of David’s friends will suffer. The sender is very kean to discuss David’s late wife, Millie. she was a very popular children’s author and it seems that David knows little or nothing about her work, he is about to get a crash course in her works as the sender is about to get him to re-enact one of her biggest selling books. 


‘Text Message Only Please’ is the first Novella from Joe Jose, he is 43 years old and lives in London, originally from Madeira in Portugal but moved when he was 5 years old. throughout childhood he was a creative person often creating his own comic books and short stories. In adulthood he found himself working as an artist and designer in various fields. In 2010 he created a series of character based puzzle books entitled ‘The Crossword Cluemies’ which were published by Pitch Publishing. Joe then found himself encouraged to return to the world of fiction writing. Two years ago Joe was in an online chat room when an idea came to him which could be centered around an online conversation, he later decided to change the format to a text message conversation as it would be more intense and give him greater control over the characters. 
Joe Jose is a talented writer that much is clear, I was drawn into the story, It was not a case of I couldn’t put it down, It was more a case of it grabbed on to me and would not let go. The format is original, a transcript of an SMS conversation between David and an unknown sender. Everything that we know as readers is what we learn by reading and in this story we know only what was messaged by text, what are the characters thinking and what is the truth of the story? this is all a mystery and it is down to the readers intuition and imagination. There is no character description or background because we are essentially just eavesdropping into a man’s phone and looking through his inbox. I found there to be little flaws with the book other than the usual errors such as spelling mistakes here and there but I am not here to pick and should you be an avid reader you will spot mistakes in any author’s works even Stephen King and Dan Brown have had errors in their books and it does not effect the reading process in the slightest. I had previously stated that this book is a Novella which basically means that it is longer than a short story and shorter than a Novel but I personally would love to see this story revamped as a full novel as it felt like it was rushed a bit towards the end and I expected a lot more suffering for David and to keep him guessing as much as the reader would have been a greater thrill ride. 
David learns in the book that one of his wife’s children’s books is about a Monkey called Divad, a character which is based on him and as a result he is required to re-enact the book by dressing up as Divad and going on a journey with the unknown sender of the texts controlling David’s every move whilst ensuring that he copies the plot-line to the letter. I do not wish to insult the story line in any way, shape or form but I do feel that the biggest problem is right here in the plot. by being based around a children’s character I feel that the story is holding itself back. there are so many possibilities for this story in which I feel had it not been centered around a children’s story David could have found himself in an even more dangerous position, as it was the unknown text sender had him wrapped around their texting finger and he was in a situation he could not control how would the story have unfolded if the sender was completely off the rails and overwhelmed by Insanity in which I feel instead of David having a very unpleasant day he could have had an actual living hell. 
As a reviewer these are my opinions and I hope I have not discouraged anybody from reading because I did thoroughly enjoy it, a cracking read. I would rate it seven out of ten and I do look forward to seeing what Joe Jose has for us next, In the meantime I suggest that anybody who likes a good read would check this book out because you will not find a more original concept for a book than a Text Message Transcript Mystery. 
Words by Gordon Langley
Twitter: @GordonRiggnarok