Hardback: £ 12.99
Publisher: William Heinemann
This was sent to me by the lovelies of Flashbang. You can find out more about them and their crime writing contest which is associated with CrimeFest at www.flashbangcontest.wordpress.com.
Unsurprisingly this is a crime novel, a murder mystery.....several murders.
It's based on Berlin, a seemingly pretty regular lady who works for a civilian investigation firm tracking down and prosecuting unlicensed loan sharks. She is pretty damn cool. Her life is a total mess but she rules. She is strong, confident, feisty and doesn't tolerate any shit! Also, as she is a civilian investigator, how she gets sucked in to this whole situation and begins investigating it herself is pretty believable. She has the training, the knowledge, the patience etc etc.
Doyle is another of the main characters. I imagine him to be like Derrick Branning on Eastenders (yes, I do watch that show. It's my one piece of mind numbing telly, it's my guilty pleasure!). He is an East End gangster, old school gangster, very old school gangster but, to be honest he isn't as bad as you think. His life is pretty tragic and I feel really sorry for him to an extent. I can see that he is a case of nurture not nature.
The story is pretty compelling to read. You want to know who dunnit, you want to know what happens next and how all the threads intermingle. You get a real sense of time. This book was set not that long ago, the recession, it even makes reference to the Icelandic bank that went tits up. This was a huge relief after Bitterblue and its crazy lack of time setting shizz. I learnt a lot about heroin and the treatment of the addiction from this. I didn't really know much about it and this was rather enlightening!
Money is a big central focus of the plot and money is a scary arsed thing. To be honest, it seems that money is in fact the bad guy! Money is evil and must be treated carefully! It's temperamental! It's like a bomb. It was difficult sometimes to work out who the bad guy (actual bad character) was. The phrase 'I'm going to see a man about a dog' was bandied about a lot by several characters and always when they were about to do something bad or break the rules. It made a lot of characters morally ambiguous.
The whole story is tragic. The lives of the people involved are tragic. The whole story is an entire tragedy. Everyone is pretty normal and seems to have had their lives ruined by one or two bad choices. It is so ordinary in many respects!
The only flaw I'd note in this novel is that on several occasions I was able to guess what happened next and who people were. That did let me down a bit as I like to be kept guessing. However, because I'd guessed I wanted to continue to read, and read quickly, so I could prove I was in fact correct.
If you are a crime fan then pick this up. I think it's out this month.