After reading some disappointing and mediocre Crime Fiction novels, I was delighted (and relieved)to have my faith in the genre restored by "The Dead Sit Round In A Ring", a novel which I would rate alongside the best of Mo Hayder and Tony Strong in terms of quality. It is well written, the characters are credible, the dialogue and plot realistic and well constructed. Like Hayder and Strong , there is a lot of gore and violence depicted and disturbing insights into new urban depravities such
as Murderabilia Websites and 15-minute-trick Slavic prostitutes.
The plot revolves around the sympathetic DS Stella Mooney and her investigation of the murder of a minor underworld figure. The investigation takes us into the depths of the West London criminal fraternity and beyond ,exposing Eastern European vice rings and Corleone-esque mafiosi families.
A lot of the plot is not overly original, revolving as it does around individuals brutalised and traumatised by the Bosnian War (Mark Burnell's "Gemini" covers similar ground) and this perhaps reduces the impact of the book. However I enjoyed the vivid depiction of inner city West London life that Lawrence portrays: Harefield Estate is a very modern Blairite Hell- a lawless City State ,the gangsters' Isse Miyake wearing women, the sybaritic lifestyle of the assassin. This detail and the careful characterisation make "The Dead Sit Round..." a winner. I found myself not so interested in DS Mooney's love life ,torn as she was between mysterious journo Delaney and her long term partner , George.Of all the characters , George was the least credible - for some reason I imagined him as the George out of the "George and Lynne" cartoon in "The Sun" -a rather incongruous one dimensional Alpha Male figure.
However , in the round, this novel is entertaining and well written and a good example of superior Crime Fiction.