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Inspector Carlyle in Life's Circus
on 29 January 2013
James Craig's latest Inspector Carlyle novel is a whirlwind of frenzied activity. The plot is a barely disguised parallel to a topical issue embellished by the author into a complex web of intricacy. At the hub of this is a phone-hacking scandal but the author uses this cleverly to spin the rest of the story. Characters enter (and leave) the scene thick and fast, most having relevance to the goings-on. Carlyle is at his irascible best. His boss, Commander Simpson, sums him up as 'having the ability to get results only matched by for his capacity to be immensely annoying and totally unmanageable'. Clearly not a team player. With little sleep and often working into the 'fifty shades of grey'! winter evenings Carlyle opens one can of worms after another.
Existing on a diet of caffeine, cake and whisky, Carlyle and side-kick Sergeant Joe Szyszkowsky are thrust into a series of incidents involving multiple murders. The Prime Minister and other high-profile government officials are hell-bent on self-preservation and winning the next general election. Sorting out the phone-hacking mess seems to be a potential vote-puller. An investigation is set up, 'Operation Redhead' !!, questioning journalists from the tabloid 'Sunday Witness' and its affiliates, including its managing director, Sonia Claesens, who works for the Zenger Corporation under the umbrella of the global 'New Media Conglomerate'.
The multitasking Carlyle is under pressure to sort out the spate of murders without causing any undue fracas. The fact that this may inciminate involvement with the Metropolitan Police (including the commissioner), politicians, journalists and the Zenger corporation, all with self-interests, adds a considerable degree of difficulty to the investigation. Throw in a missing teenager, fraud, theft, conspiracy and corruption, Carlyle's fact-based approach allied to unconvential detective methods, the ingredients are there to produce a taut novel. The characters are developed clearly and descriptively together with their interactions and motives forming main features of the novel. The hard-nosed Carlyle believes in justice at all cost and deplores cover-ups and dishonesty. At times he shows a gentler, caring side of himself and is not without remorse. As events and details are gradually revealed the whole intertwined mesh becomes unravelled and then tied up once and for all by the author in a most satisfying way.
An exciting and enjoyable read through a complex non-stop narrative full of hazards and dangers with the interesting protagonists weaving their way through the action. Very entertaining and well-written by James Craig.