The Magazine for Crime & Mystery






Allison & Busby pbk £6.99

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Reviewed by Mike Jecks

The last time I was unwell was a while back. In fact I can remember it distinctly for one reason. I was sent ANGELS FLIGHT by Michael Connelly to review, and that book gripped me so entirely that I had to read it all in one day. Since then I've had to buy all his other books. An expensive illness. When I got a copy of CANDLELAND, I was in the same position again, and it just goes to show that a lack of health can be expensive because now I'll have to go out and buy all the other Martyn Waites books.

This isn't a book for the squeamish. Waites writes with a cold, precise eye for detail, never glamorising violence, but instead leaving enough to the imagination for the reader to feel distinctly unsettled. Whereas Rankin writes about the seamy underbelly of Edinburgh, Waites is probably the best author of London. He is a northerner himself, although he lives in the south east now, and he can look at the city with a dispassionate excitement. One gets the feeling that there is a lot of himself in the anger-fuelled protagonist, Larkin.

The story begins with Moir. A policeman, and an old friend of Larkin's, Moir is devastated by the loss of his daughter. He and his wife separated years ago and Moir's ex wouldn't let him have access to his two daughters. His daughter grew up thinking he didn't love her, so she ran away several times. When she was 16 she left home for good. After that her life became one more statistic: drugs, prostitution, the slow downward spiral until she finished up with a heroin habit and AIDS.

Moir wants to go and see if he can find her. Larkin knows he wants help.

Larkin is an investigative reporter. His career is on the up now after years of alcohol abuse, caused by the murder of his wife and son. He knows how bad life can get, what it's like to lose a child. For those reasons, but for others too, he decides to go with Moir and see if he can help.

But Moir's daughter has been involved in worse than whoring and drugs. She knows the secret of one of London's most dangerous criminals. A man who knows the value of money, but doesn't give a damn about lives. Those who dislike casual violence need to look for another writer. This book is rather full of battered and bruised bodies, let alone road traffic accidents (that's no way to treat a Jag, Martyn), firearms, and cruelty to animals (OK, so it was a pit bull terrier, but even so . . .).

I am in the middle of a story myself right now, working very close to a deadline, and the best comment I can make about this book is, I picked it up at 7.00 pm and couldn't put it down until 1.30 this morning. It's cost me a whole evening's work on my own book. An excellent, gripping read that gives you a feel for London as it really is.

But not for the squeamish!

Read Mike jeck's review of MARY'S PRAYER also by Martyn Waites

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