Stuart Pawson

Allison & Busby £17.99

Reviewed by Ron Ellis

Told in the first person by D.I. Charlie Priest, the plot centres around the police investigation into a number of seemingly random murders. It doesn't take Priest long to realise that the deaths are connected and he is on the trail of a serial killer who is on a roll and likely to strike repeatedly, with ever decreasing gaps between the killings. Pawson writes the most believable police procedurals I have read, mainly because his coppers are ordinary guys who like to go down the pub with their mates, take part in charity walks and have problems with their relationships like the rest of us. For example, Charlie Priest has been on his own since the first book and, although he's had two stabs at replacing his erstwhile wife, he is still coming back to an empty house after work. However, his ex-DC lover, Annette, makes a brief reappearance here and there are hints that he and his loyal colleague and soul mate Maggie might get it together as her disenchanted husband, Tony, is realising a policewoman's husband's lot is not a happy one.
Which is the beauty of the Charlie Priest series. The way the characters develop with each new book. We are now up to number eight and Pawson has built up a huge readership all over the world who cannot wait for the next instalment. They certainly won't be disappointed with 'Laughing Boy' which is quite unputdownable. Before the story starts, there is a Prologue concerning a rock band in sixties America, in the days of the anti-Vietnam movement. You don't need to read it to follow the main plot but it is engrossing enough to suggest that the author would be as comfortable writing about American hippies and the rock'n'roll life as he is as about his beloved Yorkshire moorland.