Initially, L. J. Hurst worked in the backrooms of the media industry. He now divides his time between work for an international scientific publisher and a rather more British independent bookseller. In years past he was a regular attendee at the Shots on the Page Festivals from whence Shots Mag sprung
SHOTS has always had its eye on Steve Mosby, from his earliest days when Mike Stotter picked him out of the Orion First Blood authors for interview. Looking back, I see that repeatedly I have used the words 'strange' and 'slipstream' when reviewing his work. I now think that I need to add another word to my vocabulary: I Know Who Did It is his cleverest to date.
Mosby's police procedurals are set in a slightly askew anonymous northern town, so much askew that if you read this latest novel before the end of 2015 you are probably reading a book set in the future, but whatever you do keep an eye on the time. Featuring women returning from the dead, birthday cards sent to a deceased child, characters who think they are in Hell, characters who think they have been shown a glimpse of Heaven, the everyday coppers of Mosby's police force struggle to understand what is going on and who is behind it. Eventually, an accident victim manages to pass on a message and we have a connection to Mosby's third novel, The 50/50 Killer. That was a case which caused Detective John Mercer a nervous breakdown from which he has not recovered, though his colleague Mark Nelson is still at work, trying to persuade Mercer to help.
The novel develops through swapping scenes told, mainly, from the points of view of various police officers, each with their own loads to bear, problems in their home life, weaknesses they wish they could redeem, imperfect. Or is one too perfect?
Perhaps the police do not realise that they are in a world of pairs, doubles and opposites until it is nearly too late. They do not have one opposition to hunt down. Something similar almost happened to me when reading, then I suddenly realised that I was in a world of not one time but two, though even then not everything was clear. Mosby's villains are perhaps not up to his own powers of invention but they drive this book to the end..
Steve Mosby was once a writer of fantasy. He will recognise the allusion when I recommend to prospective readers of I Know Who Did It : 'The time, keep watching the time!'