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.
If you haven’t considered New Zealand a worthwhile venue for crime novels, think again.
In a world way different to that of Ngaio Marsh, Paul Thomas gives us everything we could wish for: a great central cop – Tito Ihaka, a giant-size Maori, who finds himself up against not only the NZ underworld but a serial murderer (or is the killer simply rubbing out those who can identify him?), an unidentified cop killer (failed), a gigolo, some rich untouchables and, of course, opposition from within the force.
Ihaka has been recalled from several years in a rural backwater, having blotted his copybook in a previous tale (something he is all too prone to doing) to untangle what’s going on – and, if there’s a fault with this finely told tale, it is that, by God, it’s tangled, with too many characters; one of those books you have to keep skipping back to find who was whom.
Don’t let that stop you reading a splendidly written, constantly engaging, deliberately puzzling, always gripping story. Ihaka is wonderful, his fellow-cops and the crims (not always the same people) well delineated, and the women both femme and fatale.