The Chair Man by Alex Pearl

Michael Hollinghurst is caught up in the 7/7 terrorist attack in London in 2005 and is left with spinal injuries leaving him paralysed from the waist down. Now he is wheelchair-bound and needs the help of a carer to do things like showering, which he used to be able to do himself. His wife Louise left him shortly after the bombing, but they have two grown up children (Natasha and Ben) and his daughter decides to keep living with him.

Mohammed Farik has grown up in East London with his older brother Salah, his British-Indian father and a mother from East Pakistan. They are Muslims. After Salah died in Iraq, bombed by Americans, Mohammed’s views have become extreme – inspired by Qssim El-Ghzzawy, a radical Islamist.

Michael takes early retirement from work and begins researching Islamic terrorism. He plans to trap a terrorist cell by posing as one himself.

The story is unique, I haven’t read anything like it before and I thought it was great Michael was disabled, because it gave the character even more obstacles to face in his task. After all, we’re all used to films and novels where police chase after suspected terrorists in the street, leading to a final stand-off. But this means the subject is approached from a whole new angle right from the start.

I liked the fact that the terrorists were shown to be from good backgrounds, from good families with moderate political views and well-educated. It seemed real, rather than using easy stereotypes.

There is quite a big cast of characters but it’s easy to keep them all straight in your head, as they are well-written and distinctive from one another.

Overall it’s a really good book, easy to get into and you want to keep reading to see what happens.


The Chair Man

Michael Hollinghurst is a successful corporate lawyer living a comfortable, suburban life in leafy North West London. But on 7 July 2005, his life is transformed when he steps on a London underground train targeted by Islamist suicide bombers. While most passengers in his carriage are killed, Michael survives the explosion but is confined to a wheelchair as a result.

Coming to terms with his predicament and controlling his own feelings of guilt as a survivor conspire to push him in a direction that is out of character and a tad reckless. In a quest to seek retribution, he resorts to embracing the internet and posing as a radical Islamist in order to snare potential perpetrators.

Much to his surprise, his shambolic scheme yields results and is brought to the attention of both GCHQ and a terrorist cell. But before long, dark forces begin to gather and close in on him. There is seemingly no way out for Michael Hollinghurst. He has become, quite literally, a sitting target.

Purchase Links

Author Bio –

Alex’s first novel ‘Sleeping with the Blackbirds’, a darkly humorous urban fantasy, written for children and young adults, was initially published by PenPress in 2011. It has since become a Kindle bestseller in the US. In 2014, his fictionalised account of the first British serviceman to be executed for cowardice during the First World War was published by Mardibooks in its anthology, ‘The Clock Struck War’. A selection of his blog posts is also available in paperback under the title ‘Random Ramblings of a Short-sighted Blogger.’ In 2019, his psychological thriller, ‘The Chair Man’ that is set in London in 2005 following the terrorist attack on its public transport system, was published as an ebook by Fizgig Press. The paperback followed in 2020.

Alex lives in NW London with his wife and terribly spoilt feline.

He is quite possibly the only human being on this planet to have been inadvertently locked in a record shop on Christmas Eve.

You can visit his website at

Social Media Links –

Published by karenlouisehollis

53, lives in Lincoln, England. Published writer, book blogger and reviewer, mum, grandma, cat owner, vegetarian. Loves reading and sewing. My novel is out - WELCOME TO WHITLOCK CLOSE.

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