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CRUNCH TIME by Nick Oldham

CRUNCH TIME

By Nick Oldham

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 2009
ISBN: 978-0-7278-6703-2
Publisher: Severn House

Bored with routine paper-pushing, DCI Henry Christie resurrects his undercover persona.

Still somewhat in disfavor for his errant judgment (Big City Jacks, 2005, etc.), Christie, of the Lancashire Constabulary, eagerly accepts Andrea Makin of the Yard’s suggestion that he revive his undercover résumé as Frank Jagger and sidle up to career criminal Ryan Ingram, who has moved his base of operations from London to the north and is now cavalierly dealing drugs, running hardcore porn and executing anyone who’s no longer useful. Christie’s longtime love Kate isn’t keen on his latest adventure, especially when their house is spied on, then set ablaze, nearly killing her. Have Ingram and his bodyguard/goon Mitch caught on that Christie’s a plant? Perhaps, but before Christie can extricate himself, he must witness Mitch’s murder of two dealers who’ve skimmed from Ingram and wonder whether an old snitch of his, Costain, is the one who fingered him to Ingram. Even after Ingram’s finally jailed, there are more complications: Christie has another nemesis out there, this one seeking revenge for a pair of knickers planted in his dad’s car that sent his old man to prison for murder.

A bit too much emotional drama for fans of really hard-boiled procedurals, and a notch or so below midlevel Bill James. Still, Christie is mellowing and keeping his libido under control, even if his pal, FBI agent Karl Donaldson, maintains his strong-arm proclivities.