Thursday, September 25, 2014

Review of The Late Greats by Nick Quantrill (Caffeine Nights Publishing, 2012)

Joe Geraghty has been hired by Kane Major, manager of New Holland, the most successful band to come out of Hull in the 1990s who are reforming for a new tour, to keep an eye on them and police their interactions with journalists.  Don, the owner of the detective agency Geraghty works for, is not happy with the arrangement, given it is more of a security job than detection.  However, that soon changes as Greg Tasker, the troubled lead singer, disappears.  Geraghty joins forces with a tabloid journalist to try and locate Tasker and what seemed like an easy task takes a sinister turn.  Despite Don’s warnings to drop the job, and DI Robinson’s threats to stay away from a case the police are now investigating, Geraghty keeps his hand in, increasingly finding himself in hotter and hotter water.

Joe Geraghty’s PI beat is the dour streets of Hull on the East coast of England.  Despite attempts to gentrify parts of the inner city, it remains an earthy, struggling port town, with its fair share of poverty and crime.  Quantrill captures the sense of place and the ambivalent attitude of its residents to their city.  He populates the story with everyday kinds of figures, with even those who have managed to escape to supposedly better things -- managing/being in a rock band, becoming a national journalist -- still grounded by the town.  To add a little spice to the humdrum mix he has Geraghty babysit the reformation of New Holland, the biggest band to come out of the town in the 1990s, whose lead singer has disappeared, but even that quickly has the feel of being part of the everyday, relatively mundane tasks of a private investigator in a rough and ready town, with Geraghty plugging away at it like any other case.  And that’s a big part of why I liked the book, it was a thriller with a small ‘t’, set in the everyday, with Geraghty a fairly ordinary guy, with no special detection skills but blessed with bloody-minded tenacity and occasional irrational decision-making.  The plot moves a decent pace, and keeps the reader guessing until the denouement, though there were a couple of elements that were a bit lost on me.  Overall, an interesting and entertaining PI tale.

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