Notice To Die moves at a cracking pace. It's written in a tight racy style, reminiscent of the heyday of the best of 1930s crime fiction, along the lines of Raymond Chandler, but with the breakneck tough-guy, punch-em-up action of Mickey Spillane.
Harry Banner is a likeable world-weary hero, and you see the world of English town 'Southbury' through his jaded eyes - the good the bad and the very ugly indeed.
There are several sexy slinky women who catch Harry's eye, and it's clear that the trumpet-playing, handsome, wise-cracking sleuth can hold some of them in thrall, especially the beautiful nightclub singer, Maria, whom we get to know in detail.
Harry, doing his best to please his new client, the sensual but enigmatic Emma Brightwell, plunges headlong into trouble on every page. Whether he's within millimetres of being spliced with a circular saw, about to be buried alive, or to be shot by a beautiful woman, you're one hundred per cent with Harry and rooting for his success.
There's an ingenious plot that keeps you guessing all the way, with some delightful surprises. Populated with nasty vicious gangsters, almost nice but threatening cops, browbeaten hookers and a scattering of decent people doing their best to survive against the odds, the world of Southbury comes alive and you feel as if you're actually walking the mean streets and drinking bitter coffee in the sleazy diners.
The atmosphere of the 30s: the clothes, the cars, the way people behaved, the hard drinking and endless cigarettes, all this is is captured here in rich detail, as is Harry's essentially lonely world, where he does his best to do what's right, confronts danger with a sneer, and tries to survive. You feel as if you'd really enjoy his company.
This is a lively, action-packed, easy read that I absolutely loved. Cannot wait for the next Harry Banner adventure, which I have heard is coming very soon. . .