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Adrian McKinty Crime Fiction Euro Crime Mark Bailey Reviews

Review: I Hear the Sirens in the Street by Adrian McKinty

I Hear the Sirens in the Street by Adrian McKinty
I Hear the Sirens in the Street by Adrian McKinty

McKinty, Adrian – ‘I Hear the Sirens in the Street’
Trade Paperback: 352 pages (Jan. 2013) Publisher: Serpent’s Tail ISBN: 1846688183

I HEAR THE SIRENS IN THE STREET is the second in the Sean Duffy trilogy set in and around Carrickfergus in County Antrim, Northern Ireland.

It is 1982 and Sean Duffy is back at work in CID at Carrickfergus Police station after the events of the previous book, THE COLD COLD GROUND, with a promotion to Detective Inspector and a Queen’s Police Medal. The usual background of the troubles at its height continues when Duffy and DC McCrabban get called to an abandoned factory to investigate a blood trail spotted by the night watchman. They search through the skips and find a suitcase with a headless torso cut off at the knees and shoulders. This turns out to the body of an American poisoned by Abrin (derived from the Rosary Pea) and then frozen – Duffy gets more suspicious when he finds that the suitcase belonged to a part-time UDR soldier from Islandmagee who had been killed by the IRA on his farm (suspicious in itself as Islandmagee is a very, very Protestant area – still less than 1% Roman Catholic today – and has very few routes out) and that the American turns out to be a former IRS official with links to the US Secret Service. There are many twists and turns involving Northern Irish politics, John DeLorean and the interface between rural and urban Northern Ireland.

I had THE COLD COLD GROUND as one of my “almost there” books for my top 5 in 2012 and I feel that I HEAR THE SIRENS IN THE STREET is just as assured a police procedural and the issue that really bothered me of Duffy not being penalised for his hot-headedness does not recur here – it just seems a tad more serious and the writing is more self-assured than in the first book. There are still some issues with how realistic the milieu really was but the gallows humour of the time, which some have criticised as fantasy, is very realistic.

I would strongly recommend I HEAR THE SIRENS IN THE STREET but you should really start with THE COLD COLD GROUND and accept that things are going to get better.

The final one, AND IN THE MORNING I’LL BE GONE, is due in January 2014 – it is pre-ordered.

Mark Bailey, Northern Ireland
March 2013

Originally published at EuroCrime

Categories
Christopher Fowler Crime Fiction Euro Crime Mark Bailey Reviews

Review: Bryant and May and the Invisible Code by Christopher Fowler

Bryant and May and the Invisible Code by Christopher Fowler
Bryant and May and the Invisible Code by Christopher Fowler

Fowler, Christopher – ‘Bryant & May and The Invisible Code’
Hardback: 352 pages (Aug. 2012) Publisher: Doubleday ISBN: 0857520504

BRYANT & MAY AND THE INVISIBLE CODE is the tenth book about Arthur Bryant, John May and their Peculiar Crimes Unit of the Metropolitan Police.

BRYANT & MAY AND THE INVISIBLE CODE begins with two children playing a game called ‘Witch-Hunter’ – they place a curse on a young woman taking lunch in a church courtyard and wait for her to die. An hour later the woman is found dead inside St Bride’s Church – a building that no-one else has entered. Bryant & May want to investigate the case but are refused the chance as it is outside their jurisdiction and are instead hired by their greatest enemy who wants to find out why his wife has suddenly started behaving strangely – he is convinced that someone is trying to drive her insane as she has begun covering the mirrors in her apartment believing herself to be the victim of witchcraft. The members of the Peculiar Crimes Unit dig behind the city’s facades to expose a world of private clubs, hidden passages and covert loyalties; as they do so they realise that the case might not just end in disaster – it might also get everyone killed.

Unlike the last book, BRYANT & MAY AND THE MEMORY OF BLOOD, I feel that this is not a good place for a new reader to start as it ties up an awful lot of loose ends in the series. However, if you do wish to start here then there is some background information that you could gather the bare bones of what has gone before from but not the full nuance.

Overall this is another strong Bryant & May novel with a very intricate plot with lots of twists and turns. Some new characters are introduced to set up for the future some of which are almost half fantastical.

Bryant, May and the Peculiar Crimes Unit will return in a graphic novel – THE CASEBOOK OF BRYANT & MAY – and may return in a novel if the publishing gods are willing – his blog says two more are outlined but not yet contracted.

Mark Bailey, Northern Ireland
September 2012

Originally published at EuroCrime

Categories
Crime Fiction Ed Chatterton Euro Crime Mark Bailey Reviews

Review: A Dark Place to Die by Ed Chatterton

A Dark Place to Die by Ed Chatterton
A Dark Place to Die by Ed Chatterton

Chatterton, Ed – ‘A Dark Place to Die’
Paperback: 432 pages (Sep. 2012) Publisher: Arrow ISBN: 0099576678

DI Frank Keane is called to a crime scene on the Merseyside shoreline near Crosby where a charred body has been found tied to a scaffolding pole embedded in the sand. He and his partner DS Emily Harris with initially limited forensic evidence and the gruesomeness of the crime start their investigation on the assumption that it is a gang related murder – a supposition reinforced by the discovery of the murder scene in Liverpool Freeport. The discovery that the body is the illegitimate son of Keane’s former boss brings former DCI Menno Koopman back from retirement in Australia to Liverpool as he tries to piece together what brought the son he never knew from his birth in Liverpool to a life in Australia and then to his death back in Liverpool and to find out for himself who is responsible for the crime and perhaps take vengeance.

This is a well written police procedural which should appeal to people who like Tony Black, Peter Robinson and Ian Rankin albeit it is a bit gorier than the latter two. It makes good use of the contrasting backdrops of both urban Liverpool and the Australian outback to drive the narrative on. The switching of viewpoints (each chapter tends to focus on what is happening to a different character) does work quite well but the twist at the end I am less sure about as it is signposted early on – think pantomime villain.

This is the first crime novel from Ed Chatterton who as ‘Martin Chatterton’ has been writing children’s books and Young Adult fiction for over twenty years.

The second book in the Frank Keane series is provisionally titled FROM THE CRADLE TO THE GRAVE and the author states that it begins with an apparently simple – if bloody – murder/suicide in one of the leafier suburbs of Merseyside. I suspect that I will be reading it.

Mark Bailey, Northern Ireland
October 2012

Originally published at EuroCrime

Categories
Crime Fiction Euro Crime Mark Bailey Reviews Tony Black

Review: Truth Lies Bleeding by Tony Black

Truth Lies Bleeding by Tony Black

Truth Lies Bleeding by Tony Black

 

 

Black, Tony

– ‘Truth Lies Bleeding’
Paperback: 384 pages (Aug. 2011) Publisher: Arrow ISBN: 1848091907

TRUTH LIES BLEEDING is the first book about Detective Inspector Rob Brennan from Tony Black who is best known for his Gus Dury novels.

Rob Brennan is a Detective Inspector in Edinburgh who is returning from psychiatric leave after the shooting of his younger brother. He returns to work to face a hostile Chief Superintendent who is up for promotion and wants everything to be very smooth until she has her interview – this is a problem with the discovery by four teenagers, of the mutilated body of a teenager in a dumpster in Muirhouse, with the only other Detective Inspector tied up on another case. Initially she wants to leave the case in the hands of Detective Constable Stevie McGuire but Brennan persuades her that the best thing for him is to get involved in a case straight away. Brennan asserts his authority over McGuire straight away by getting him to return to the incident room and gets a uniformed office to drive him out to the crime scene.

The murdered girl turns out to be a teenage runaway who is very far from home and had a baby with her – a fact that her Presbyterian minister father is trying very hard to hush up.

At first glance you might feel that this is a fairly standard piece of Tartan Noir, but Tony Black is a very skilled writer who can depict the grim, darker aspects of life with realism and yet still be highly readable. The switching of narrative viewpoint between the pursuer and the pursued works well here – it doesn’t always. My only real issue with this book is that, for me, the multiple sub-plots didn’t quite gel together and some get tidied up very quickly at the end; perchance, they will be dealt with in more depth in another book.

Would I pick up a second Rob Brennan? Yes, I would.

Mark Bailey, Northern Ireland
November 2011

Originally published at EuroCrime

Categories
Crime Fiction Euro Crime Mark Bailey Reviews Tony Black

Review: Murder Mile by Tony Black

Murder Mile by Tony Black
Murder Mile by Tony Black

Black, Tony – ‘Murder Mile’
Trade Paperback: 336 pages (Apr. 2012) Publisher: Preface Publishing ISBN: 1848091923

MURDER MILE is the second book about Detective Inspector Rob Brennan from Tony Black who is best known for his Gus Dury novels.

Rob Brennan is a Detective Inspector in Edinburgh who finds himself investigating a murder when the brutally mutilated body of a young woman is found in a field on the outskirts of Edinburgh. This case seems to have links with an unsolved case from 5 years ago when another woman was strangled with her own stockings, sexually mutilated and had her eyes gouged out. This case was investigated by a colleague of Brennan who doesn’t like him, is about to retire and would like to leave the force in glory.

The work of Brennan is made worse by his Chief Superintendent who is obsessed with budgets and dislikes Brennan, whom he sees as a troublemaker. On the home front, Brennan’s marriage has collapsed after some of the events in the first book and he is living in a bedsit with minimal and increasingly abrasive contact with his daughter.

Though a very well written piece – as Tony Black is a very skilled writer who can depict the grim darker aspects of life with realism and yet still be highly readable – I didn’t like it quite as much as TRUTH LIES BLEEDING. I feel that there are two reasons for this: the switching of narrative viewpoint doesn’t work as well here as in the first book in my opinion and I found it very hard to like any of the characters.

Despite these criticisms the last 50 pages or so of the novel are gripping but they do lead one to the suspicion that a third Brennan could be darker still which might make it less of my cup of tea.

The question I suppose is whether I would pick up a third Rob Brennan novel – yes, I would but perhaps with a bit less enthusiasm than I looked forward to this one.

Mark Bailey, Northern Ireland
August 2012

 

Originally published at Eurocrime