Adrian Magson is the author of 20 crime and spy thrillers, including the Harry Tate series, the Lucas Rocco series and the Marc Portman series. His latest books are ‘The Locker’ (Midnight Ink - Feb 2016) the first in a new thriller series, and ‘Hard Cover’ (Severn House - March 2016), the third of his Marc Portman novels.
After the series of noir noir novels with Tony Black’s central character Gus Dury, whose life was a downwards spiral of violence, loss and alcohol abuse of epic proportions, I was interested to see what he would do with his new character, DI Rob Brennan.
I’m relieved to see that, while losing some of the relentless despair of Dury’s existence, Truth Lies Bleeding’has lost none of the grit, nor the savage descriptive powers so characteristic of the earlier novels.
And guess what? Brennan is actually a likeable figure!
Okay, he’s just come back from ‘psych’ leave, following the shooting of his brother, his private life is a mess and his boss is a hatefully ambitious cow who should be shot, but there’s a colour about Rob Brennan that lifts him above the unchanging grey of Dury’s character; so much so, I wanted him to succeed in his search for the brutal killer of a young girl dumped in skip, to see what he does next. He’s also a lot more focussed, and fights his way through the investigation step by step, aware that he is being watched by enemies within the force who want him to fail, but driven by a mix of anger and determination.
With an underlying story of baby-selling, paedophiles, drugs and social deprivation (his description of two junkies, united in their utterly squalid and doomed existence, jumps right off the page), there is more than one theme to this story, and he manages to bring them together very neatly.
I also found a difference in Black’s writing this time – perhaps because of this new character, I don’t know. He still conveys the harsh, bitter world of his Edinburgh setting extremely well (the Tourist Board should warm to him a little with this one), where the brutal survive only until someone even more brutal or desperate comes along. But I prefer the style of this book a lot more; it’s considered, still very tough, but if anything, more readable… and dare I say, will appeal I believe, to a wider audience.
I hope he brings Brennan back. He’s a winner.