Review: Dig Two Graves by Keith Nixon

Apologies for the sparsity of recent reviews. I’ve being reading loads of excellent crime novels but I’m also editing book four in the DC Childs series (title to be revealed) which is taking up much of my time. It’s exciting and I’ve nearly reached the end of the edits which means I can finally catch up on some reviews.

One of the main reasons I read crime fiction is for the sense of place which, when it’s done well, is seamlessly integrated with a crime plot. Keith Nixon sets his books on the south coast of England, an area he’s very familiar with, and he cleverly captures the mood of edgy seaside towns with their undercurrent of menace. In Dig Two Graves  a Margate funfair is the location of detective Solomon Gray’s son disappearance ten years earlier. His loss means that any case involving a child has particular resonance for the cop, even more so when teenage Nick Buckingham falls from an apartment block with Gray’s phone number in his mobile.

Nixon pulls no punches as to the faded grandeur of Margate and the criminality of some of its residents. However, he cleverly offsets it with another murder which takes place inside a church which adds an interesting strand to a sophisticated plot. The impact of missing or dead children is a familiar them in crime fiction (I’ve written about it myself) and it can be hard to  bring something new to the genre. However, when combined with a solid plot and realistic characterisation as it is here, it can work well. Written in Nixon’s distinctive gritty style, Dig Two Graves should bring him new readers in what promises to be an excellent new series.

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6 thoughts on “Review: Dig Two Graves by Keith Nixon

  1. Hello Sarah. Now I like the sound of Dig Two Graves, especially as it’s based on the South Coast, and Margate is where my parents met, well Cliftonville, but it’s as near as. I’m always interested in new series, and will have to update Ethel with some new titles.
    I thoroughly enjoyed A Patient Fury by the way. What an intriguing plot, a real page turner. Can’t wait for book number 4 😀.

  2. Very pleased to be on your mailing list. Some weeks back I read the short piece in the Matlock Mercury and put in a marker to read your books. I have now bought all three and will endeavour to read them over the next few weeks, though like you I have a prior engagement with a book Mike Stotter has sent me to review for Shots. Brief background: I was involved in the conception and publication of A Shot in the Dark from Bonsall in the 1990s while working at Derbyshire County Council. When it got too much for me I passed it on to Mike so it could have the benefit of a London base. Mike then took it into the E world. I have continued to read crime fiction, like you with a penchant for Scandi (there’s reviews of Nesbo, Arne Dahl, Adler Oleson and Lagercrantz on the Shots reviews pages). However I do like to keep up to date with local writers – Stephen Booth and Steven Dunne, and now you.

    Of late I have been involved the development of a new U3A group in Wirksworth and will be launching a Crime Fiction interest group in the new year, probably kicking off in January with a session on The Importance of Place, along the lines of your email. We expect to have about 8 members so what I am proposing is to get three to read your titles, one to read one of Stephen Booth’s and one to tackle a Steven Dunne. To give it a bit more spread I will suggest that another member reads an Ian Rankin just to see how he immerses the reader in Edinburgh, and finally someone else to examine one of the A A Dhand to see how he gets you under the skin of Bradford.

    Early in the new year I would like to invite you down to talk to the group about how you first got interested in crime fiction and jumped from that into writing. If you are willing we might also explore upgrading the meeting from the small interest group to the large General Meeting which would mean it was open to the U3A branch membership as a whole. That would also have the advantage for you that you could have a table for sales and signings of your books (there are usually about 40 people present).

    I hope this suggestion is ok with you. In the meantime I will hasten to read your three books.

    Bob Cartwright

    • Hi Bob – many thanks for this. I’m glad you saw the piece in the Matlock Mercury. It was great to chat to the journalist. Really interesting about your involvement in crime fiction too. Thanks for reading me at your group and I hope your reader enjoys the book. I’m more than happy to come to chat to your group although I write in January/February so sometime after that would be perfect! I can be e-mailed via the contact page on this website. Best wishes, Sarah

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