Friday, 27 September 2013

Welcome Back, Jack! By Liam Sweeney

Note: This review is pre-release. The book goes on sale 31st October

Jack Taggart is a man with a terrible history. The bloody death of his parents at the merciless hands of a serial killer have left him a haunted man. He battles his demons by being the best cop he can be. When a serial killer brings death to New Rhodes Jack finds the past comes back for him with a vengeance.

Welcome Back, Jack! Is a gritty police procedural novel. We follow Jack Taggart as he tries to track down a serial killer. He must battle self-interest and be as objective as he can be as the killer has a connection to his past, a link he cannot ignore. This leads to suspicions from his colleagues in New Rhodes Police Department, the FBI and the Sheriff’s department. When everyone wants Jack off the case he knows that stop hunting this killer could mean disaster for him and all he holds dear.

Liam Sweeney has created a number of excellent characters here. The dialogue is as sharp and realistic as any I’ve read in recent times. It’s also clear that the author has done his research into police procedures and as a Brit I was fascinated by the methodology of US cops and agencies outlined in the book.

Sweeney builds the tension up slowly but as the books nears its dramatic conclusion you realise how much he has sucked you into the plot. I found that it I really cared what happened to Jack. They were no throwaway two dimensional characters here. An excellent read that I enjoyed from start to finish. I hope to see more of Jack Taggart.

Sunday, 1 September 2013

The Fix by Keith Nixon

The Fix caught me totally off guard. I expected something a little more conventional for some reason. What I got was a story that put two fingers up to convention and how refreshing it was. The story structure is quite slow to build up, normally a frustration, but with this novel I didn't care I was enjoying main character Josh's cynical observations on life far too much. The characters and humour were very much strengths of this novel. Nixon delights in putting his characters through the wringer.

Josh Dedman commutes from Margate to London where he works for a large bank. He despises all of his work mates and his boss Hershey Valentine. His relationship with PR consultant Claire is dead in the water. It’s fair to say Josh has a crap life. When Josh has the opportunity to score a few points over his boss he takes it in hilarious style. Nixon gives us plenty of questions to be answered – Who is the mystery blonde Josh meets on the train? Why is new friend Jack going out his way to help him? Meanwhile the bank is having serious problems with embezzlement issues and an unwilling patsy is needed. Is Josh a Dedman walking? 

The Fix was enjoyable for the anti-heroes as much as much as the heroes. Nixon is unafraid to use strong language and toilet humour at times to make a scene more effective. However, he never overdoes it to the point of gratuity. 

An unusual novel, I hesitate to use the term "crime caper" but the comic element was a major part of the book. The plot was well conceived and ultimately satisfying. There were enough red herrings to keep the mystery readers happy. I for one would love to read more of the adventures of Josh Dedman. A top not read that will appeal particularly to the British sense of humour.