A debut novel follows a conflicted sleuth investigating a high-profile murder.
Andy Carrick is a former British Special Forces officer who is still struggling with his near-death experience in Afghanistan. Andy has been treating his PTSD with alcohol as the security firm that he inherited crumbles thanks to his absentee management. He’s hiding out at a cottage in rural France when a chance to rejoin the real world presents itself. He gets a call from famed advertising guru Tony Maine, who is nearby visiting a former employee named Emma Luc, the wife of Andy’s mate Didier. At a major advertising awards event in Cannes, a maverick creative director has had his throat slashed, and Maine wants Andy to investigate the homicide quietly. It soon becomes clear that Andy is a soldier, not a detective. After Maine’s suggested line of inquiry doesn’t pan out, Andy comes up with his own, equally unsuccessful theories. Soon, he’s in trouble with the local police and then on the run, as he discovers he’s been set up as a distraction. Andy uses his military training to stay alive, leaving a trail of bodies as he attempts to solve the murder. Then he teams up with some of the contacts he has made in Cannes to try to bring the criminals to justice. Newman skillfully presents Andy as one of the many soldiers who have trouble resettling into civilian life for a number of reasons. What haunts Andy are the nightmares of his imprisonment and the marriage that fell apart after a former squad mate seduced his wife. Which, naturally, left Andy living in solitary: “His regime of savage self-reproach had descended into a lifestyle unsuited to company and he’d lowered the curtain on friends and foes alike.” It is heartening to watch Andy come back to life once he has a mission again. His immersion in the rampant fakery of advertising finds him on a field of battle that he doesn’t understand, and the characters from that world are generally unlikable. Newman’s engrossing narrative is well-paced, with Andy frequently facing and overcoming new challenges as he starts to dig himself out of his depression. Here’s hoping the author has more adventures planned for his appealing hero.
A winning new detective who overcomes his demons while grappling with a case.