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.

Review: Eva Hudson – The Senior Moment

theseniormomentblogbooksI’ve only just managed to squeeze in my e-book of the month. My kindle (as usual) went AWOL and I then forgot what a short month February is. However, I just managed to get my reading done in time. I reviewed the first book by Eva Hudson last year. The Loyal Servant was set in the corridors of Whitehall and featured the hapless Caroline trying to uncover the truth about a Minister’s death. My review mentioned that my favourite character was Caroline’s mother Jean Henderson, and I was pleased to see that she had become the main protagonist in The Senior Moment.

Jean is visiting her son Simon in New York, who is awaiting the imminent arrival of a new baby with his wife Cindy. But the moment she arrives, she is witness to a violent robbery in a grocery store and catches a glimpse of the gunman’s face. Her son is missing and the only clue in his empty apartment is a friend who turns up to say that they own $100,000 to a loan shark. As Jean tries to raise the money to bail-out her son, she is being hunted by the grocery store killer, who wants to eliminate her as a witness.

Despite the change of location, the book is written very much in the style of The Loyal Servant. Jean is the same doughty character that we saw in book 1, determined to rescue her son although frightened that she has found herself within the gunman’s sights. The scenes containing Jean are the ones with the most tension. A friend and I have in the past lamented the lack of interesting older women characters in fiction, particularly given that many women read crime books and thrillers. Jean fills some of that gap with her gung-ho attitude and astute actions although the character is written with subtlety and with a bit of romance thrown in.

I also enjoyed the police scenes as Luisa, suffering at the hands of a male dominated precinct, attempts to unpick the case in the midst of departmental disinterest. The character develops throughout the book and towards the end you’re rooting for both Jean and Luisa for different reasons.

It was a bold move for the author to move this second book from London to New York but I was surprised at how well it worked. I’m looking forward to book 3.

I received a copy of the book from the author whose website is here.