For a British journalist, maintaining a career and financial stability can be murder—and may even call for it—in this thriller.
Though Martin’s two years older than Financial Review co-worker Tom de Lacy, it’s the latter who gets the coveted industrial correspondent’s job. The magazine’s editor effectively demotes Martin, who’s married with twin daughters, to subeditor, where he resents Tom and discreetly sabotages his copy. As Tom’s career soars, including a gig as a TV reporter, Martin takes a personal and professional nose dive, eventually becoming unemployed with his wife and children gone. The news gets worse: Martin’s terminally ill father, Simon, has changed his will, giving his house and half his estate to his younger brother, Walter, who’s just returned after inexplicably disappearing years ago. Desperate for money, Martin convinces Caroline, one of his two sisters, that enlisting a heavy to scare Uncle Walter out of the house is a good idea. Shortly thereafter, Martin hits a wave of good fortune, starting behind the scenes on a TV show and winding up in front of the camera. But hired heavy Jebb complicates matters by becoming smitten with Caroline. Martin’s potentially hot new story involving a pharmaceutical company, meanwhile, has ties to a recent murder—and he certainly doesn’t want authorities digging anywhere near him. Claver’s (Hider/Seeker, 2015) story is quietly chaotic, a series of events unfolding organically. Martin, for example, handles one problem at a time, such as his inability to get a hold of Jebb to verify that he’s only strong-arming Walter. Likewise, Martin’s solid under pressure and often funny. When Jebb hears Caroline’s voice over the phone, after Martin says she’s out of the country, the journalist tells him: “No, it’s my other sister, the ugly one.” Martin’s brisk, generally wry first-person narrative makes him an easy protagonist to root for, regardless of his questionable acts, while Tom, quite frankly, deserves the protagonist’s rancor. The somewhat ambiguous ending is striking, a lasting impression revealing what’s most important to Martin.
A smartly restrained and persistently witty crime tale even at its grimmest.