This is the second outing for Craig's London Met detective, John Carlyle, a down-to-earth copper who seems to be constantly juggling more cases than the average plod should be able to deal with. Carlyle's first outing was in London Calling, a launch I somehow missed but intend to put right, if the enjoyment in this second story is anything to go by.
The central plot involves the death of an elderly woman, apparently at the hands of her husband who insists he's innocent. Vague references to a Chilean connection with the case fail to dissuade Carlyle of the husband's guilt. In between he tries to help find a missing child, deal with the stalker of a pretty newswoman, and investigate a nasty drug ring. Not unexpectedly, things take a twist on his main case when he learns the husband is not the killer.
Carlyle is the type of hero to enjoy. He doesn't jump through burning hoops, abseil tall buildings, or shoot an MP5 out of the window in a high-speed car chase. But he gets the job done in an efficient and believable manner while juggling a domestic life with an understanding wife and a teenage daughter beginning to explore the usual adolescent boundaries.
There's a lot about this novel to keep you engrossed and interested. The initial, slightly overlong, references to what happened in Chile could have been best dealt with in a prologue, but that's almost unfair nitpicking in what is a superbly written and cosy yarn. Craig's style, pace and underlying knowledge is as good as anything you'll find in the crime genre. Judging by what lies between the covers of Never Apologise, Never Explain, the Inspector Carlyle brand deserves to sit on the shelves with the best of the modern serial detectives.