Burned and Broken

Written by Mark Hardie

Review written by Adam Colclough

Adam Colclough lives and works in the West Midlands, he writes regularly for a number of websites, one day he will get round to writing a book for someone else to review.


Burned and Broken
Sphere
RRP: £18.99
Released: June 23 2016
HBK

On the beach of a dowdy seaside town a police officer is burnt alive in his car, elsewhere in the town a disturbed young woman struggles to come to terms with the death of her friend. Both cases are linked by a web of dark secrets and shattering betrayals, it is the job of Detective Sergeant Frank Pearson and DC Cat Russell, two cops with problems of enough of their own to untangle lies and truth exposing in the process lives that have been irreparably damaged.

This dark, original and thoroughly satisfying crime novel consciously reacts against some of the most familiar conventions of the genre. In the world Hardie creates the 'maverick' cop who does things his own way isn't automatically a hero, it is the media's myth making after his death that confers such a status after the event, conveniently ignoring the damage he did too himself and others in life.

His two lead characters are, by contrast decidedly downbeat, misfits ill at ease in their own lives and shunted into a career dead end, trying to do the right thing even when doing the wrong one would make things easier. The setting in a fly-blown seaside resort with its cheap nightspots and scruffy arcades is convincingly grim; this is a place readers are reminded where hope retires to die.

The crime about which Hardie writes is both sad and sordid in equal measure and he creates a killer with mental health issues who is closer to the troubled reality of such unfortunates than the usual collection of clichés.

This is a crime novel in the European rather than British tradition, here crime isn't a three pipe problem to be solved with all the loose ends tied up in the last chapter. Instead it is a means of showing up the failing in society and the flaws in individual characters.

Despite this being his debut Mark Hardie has proved himself to be a skilful practitioner of the intelligent crime novel, and his novel could launch a major new voice in the genre.

 

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