Review: Bill Todd- The Wreck of the Margherita

My intention to read an e-book a month in 2013 unfortunately failed in March, mainly as my reading slowed down towards the end of the TWotMmonth. However, let’s not be too prescriptive about things. My kindle and I have a fractious relationship and if I read a good e-book then I intend post a review soon after reading it. This should hopefully work out around twelve in the year.

The Wreck of the Margherita is by travel journalist Bill Todd who has written a modern tale of corruption and violence. The cargo ship Margherita is wrecked in the English channel and former soldier Danny Lancaster decides to descend onto the beach with his mates and pick up some of the loot. This, naturally, leads to the discovery to more than the assortment of white goods he was hoping for. Danny also has aspirations to become a detective and takes up various assignments, most of which lead him into  Brighton’s underbelly and in the sight of those who wish to protect their own interests.

Danny Lancaster is a very likeable central protagonist. An ex-paratrooper, his wife is dead and he lost his leg while fighting in Afghanistan. He struggles to remain in touch with his kids and is attempting to look after his dying mother while earning a living as an investigator. I think that Todd got the character of Danny spot-on. Although yearning for his wife, he nevertheless is on the look-out for casual encounters. Some of the sex scenes are fairly frank by crime fiction standards but entirely in keeping with what I would expect from a person with Danny’s background. The other characters fit in well with the brutal and amoral oeuvre that Danny has to negotiate, and very few people are completely good, although many are clearly evil.

The Brighton location works well. The city is a strange mix of genteel, trendy and seedy and all aspects are represented in this book. You can’t read a thriller set in the city without making comparisons to Greene’s Brighton RockThe world, in fact, isn’t a million miles away from that of Pinkie and his gang and clearly Brighton has always been a magnet for the dispossessed and violent.

It was a very enjoyable read and I would recommend it to anyone who wants a realistic slice of violent criminal activity. It isn’t a sub-genre that I read often, but when it is well written like this one, it’s worth moving out of your comfort zone.

Thanks to the author who sent me a copy of the book. I purchased that second book in the series Death Squad and hope to review that sometime on the blog.

11 thoughts on “Review: Bill Todd- The Wreck of the Margherita

  1. Sounds good Sarah. It’s so interesting to see how many different ways characters with a connection to recent conflicts such as the war in Afghanistan are incorporated into crime fiction, the book I just finished (Sean Doolittle’s LAKE COUNTRY) featured two such characters as well.


  2. Margot Kinberg

    Sarah – I couldn’t agree with you more that it’s sometimes good to step outside one’s reading ‘comfort zone.’ Mine usually doesn’t involve quite as much violence as this one, but Danny does sound like an interesting protagonist. And I’ll have to check this out.


  3. Although this is not the type of book I would seek out, I am open to trying new types of mysteries, and this sounds well-written. I may try this as an e-book.


  4. Pingback: The Best of April’s Reading | crimepieces

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