Russell James has been named “the Godfather of Noir” by Ian Rankin. Russell writes crime novels - about criminals and victims, not the cozy procedural or whodunnit. He is the editor of Great British Fictional Detectives.
Mark fancies Karen and thinks she fancies him. Debbie, his heavy-drinking wife, thinks he and Karen are already at it and is furious, though she herself is having kinky sex with a teenager. She picks a cat-fight with Karen at their posh country club – then disappears.
We know where Debbie went and who killed her, but for everybody else the culprit must be Karen or Mark or both. Meanwhile, Karen’s daughter makes a play for the undetected killer, who in turn makes a stronger play for her mother. Karen wants neither him nor Mark. But both men think she’s theirs.
Passions smoulder only briefly before bursting into flame. Before long those guilty passions erupt in an inferno of thwarted desire and botched endeavour. Mark, his doomed wife and the killer each in their own ways lose touch with reality. As do the teenagers. And before long, as do their neighbours. (Oh, and the investigating cop is in his own love tangle.)
All this is mad, furious, anarchic fun – a heady brew that slips down as easily as a quart of your favourite ale.