Harry Devlin, Liverpool lawyer, having been introduced in the outstanding All The Lonely People, one of my favourite recent reads, is back for another outing, this time named after an Elvis song. One of his clients, Jack Stirrup, is suspected of murdering his wife – despite the lack of a body – and Harry isn’t completely convinced of his innocence either. But then Stirrup’s daughter also disappears, and, when a body is discovered, Harry is determined to get to the bottom of the mess.
He’s also contending with a nascent relationship with a young barrister, but suspects her of having an affair with her boss. And with The Beast, a sexual predator with a penchant for animal masks, stalking the streets, Liverpool (well, mostly the Wirral) isn’t the safest place to be…
So far, everything I’ve read by Martin Edwards has been outstanding. Really top-notch stuff. I’ll prove it, just check out… oh, hang on. I haven’t got a tab for my reviews of Martin’s work. Have to do something about that. In the meantime, click here for an index. In the meantime, The Hanging Wood, the only unread entry into the Lake District series, sits on my shelf waiting for a special occasion to be read.
Right, where was I? Oh, yes, everything so far has been outstanding. So, it’s grossly unfair when I criticise this book for merely being good. I feel really stupid writing that sentence, but it’s unfortunately how I feel. But the book is only disappointing due to the fact that it wasn’t as good as the others that I’ve read.
I’ve heaped praise on weaker books that this one, when there hasn’t been a level to compare them too, so let’s make this clear from the outset. This is an involving mystery, with a great, if flawed, central character, with some decent twists and turns. So what’s the problem?
Well, I found the central theme – suspicion, for those of you very slow on the uptake – less involving than the loneliness that pervaded the first book, and, at the end of the day, the resolution of the mystery is fairly straightforward with a culprit that I didn’t particularly care about.
Having said that, there are some lovely touches here, not least in the capture of the killer. There are a number of touches that show that Harry is not the world’s greatest detective, not least his disastrous confrontation with someone. The Liverpool background adds an extra resonance to someone who knows some of the places mentioned – indeed, it’s fascinating to me, as I’ve only known Liverpool since its redevelopment, and this is set before that.
So, overall, a good book. Not Martin’s finest work, but still a very good read. Looking forward to the next in the series.