The Magazine for Crime & Mystery




Small Vices

David Armstrong

Allison & Busby £17.99

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DOUBLE SHOT: Two views - same book


Detective Inspector Frank Kavanagh and his lover, Detective Constable Jane Salt have been split up. He is on secondment to the National Serious Crimes Division, which is looking into the deaths of prostitutes in the West Midlands. They have a sameness about them which suggests a serial killer is at work. DC Salt is investigating a series of violent cash heists against unusual targets, the first of which is a garden centre.Their boss, ACC Michael Hyland a clever, but unlikeable man is trying to cover the tracks to his shady past, which could not only end his career but lead to imprisonment. A very well-written book. What impressed me is that the author is not afraid to leave loose ends. Life is like that. Not everything is tidy. Well worth reading.

John Orum

Another dagger-contender from David Armstrong. Frank Kavanagh is separated from Jane Salt while he gets involved with a serial-killer case in Birmingham. There he is seduced by his ex-wife and takes time-out to review his life. Armstrong keeps tabs on both of them and again demonstrates his ability to wander freely inside Kavanagh's head. It's not always a comfortable place to be but it is a place that most of us will recognise. There is a mystery here and there is another element better known as a why-dun-it. There is corruption and vice, and brilliant insight and bungling. Kavanagh is not one of those cops you don't believe in, his character carries the ring of truth. He's not a super- star but a real flesh and blood early twenty-first century man. But above all the vicissitudes of plot and verisimilitude it is the writing that takes this book out of its genre and into the realm of the best contemporary fiction. Everything, the characters, the plot, the sense of place and the compassion and humour are all constructs of language. Of eloquence. The gold dagger for fiction has been awarded outside of the UK the last couple of years. David Armstrong's book is a strong contender to bring it back home.

John Baker.

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