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.