The Magazine for Crime & Mystery



Val McDermid Interview

Nevada Barr on writing HUNTING SEASON plus an excerpt

Paul Doherty's short story THE KYRIE MAN

Stark Contrasts Michael Carlson examines the pulp fiction of Richard Stark

Have you got what it takes to be a Writer? by Fiona Shoop

It Could Only Happen in Hollywood

A Waste of Shame

Jim Lusby

Orion £9.99

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Reviewed by Kieth Miles

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For those unfamiliar with Jim Lusby's work, this is an ideal introduction. A WASTE OF SHAME shows him at his best - quirky, original, devious and chilling. Detective Inspector Carl McCadden is sent to a remote village in West Cork to investigate the murder and sexual mutilation of a woman in her nineties, who has been living as a recluse. Local police believe that she was killed in the course of a bungled robbery and they arrest two suspects.
McCadden has his own theories and - as a hated outsider - he has to overcome a whole series of obstacles before he can put them to the test.
The narrative control is excellent. Lusby knows exactly what to reveal at each stage, enriching the texture of the novel by shifting between first and third-person narrators. As befits a nation in the grip of it own history, the decisive clues lie deep in the past. McCadden follows the trail relentlessly and discovers that the murder victim, Hannah Fraule, was not always the devout Catholic that she became in later years. There are surprises at every turn and Lusby keeps us guessing until the very end.
Lusby is particularly good at evoking atmosphere. The scene of the crime is described with wonderful precision and the arrest of the two suspects - following a bizarre christening at the local church - is another convincing set-piece. Good and evil are entwined so closely that moral ambiguities pop up all over the place.
McCadden is an interesting protagonist. Cool, incisive and uncompromising, he conducts his investigation with a single-mindedness that eventually brings results. He has no illusions about some of his colleagues. Police brutality and corruption are all too evident. Political and religious tyrrany are the dominant themes but the title of the book - taken from a Shakespeare sonnet - warns us that sex has a crucial role to play as well.
It's only on the finishing strait that the novel starts to falter. The last few pages are disappointing because the arrest of the killer takes place offstage and is merely reported to McCadden. Having tracked the man through the novel, McCadden surely deserved a confrontation with him so that a more dramatic conclusion could be devised.
Apart from this blemish, A WASTE OF SHAME is a fine novel, beautifully-written and highly recommended to anyone about to drive around those quaint little Irish villages - the perfect antidote to the Ballykissangel Tendency. Keith Miles

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