In Radstone’s debut thriller, a detective in North London must contend with ongoing cases, his own alcoholism, and his anger over his girlfriend’s sudden decision to leave him.
Detective Superintendent Richard Morgan isn’t terribly shocked when his girlfriend, Gerry, covertly moves out of their London home. Even he recognizes that his controlling behavior and heavy drinking was making them both miserable. Despite this, however, his perpetual anger still compels him to track her down. It turns out that she’s living in France, helping orphans who have escaped rebel fighting in Africa. Richard’s obsession distracts him from his police duties investigating child prostitution, so his boss suspends him. He then gets professional help for his problems, and hopes to reconcile with the people he’s hurt. His new friendship with Big Bob McAllister, a man who works for a security company, may be a step in that direction. The novel is split into two parts, but they’re so distinctive that they feel like separate, distinct novellas: The first focuses on Gerry making a new life and Richard searching for her, while the second is a more traditional detective story. Radstone impressively turns a contemptible character into a worthy protagonist. Richard is undoubtedly the villain in Gerry’s story; indeed, Gerry’s new friends seem more nervous about Richard than about the fact that someone torched Gerry’s caravan. But Richard redeems himself in the second part, in which he apologizes to those he’s offended, which then leads him to a new career path. The book’s latter half is just as emotionally viable as the first—Richard and Gerry’s relationship, though moved to the back burner, remains significant—but it’s also decidedly more entertaining, as he and Big Bob investigate death threats sent to a nightclub owner and get caught up in a plot involving kidnapping, ransom and even murder. The novel has thorough resolution (at the end of both sections), and leaves plenty of room for a sequel that could spotlight Richard as a private eye—and more of Big Bob wouldn’t hurt.
An irresistible detective story with a meticulously crafted hero.