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Entertaining but not a patch on The Falcon's Malteser
on 11 February 2015
While this novel was very funny and made a nice light read, it unfortunately paled in comparison with the Falcon's Malteser. This novel was much more of a straight thriller and lost a lot of the film noir references that made the first book so unique and interesting. Gone are the femme fatales and stoic hitmen - even Herbert gets a reduced role this time around. The main focus on the story is Nick and his mission to befriend a teenage gangster.
The twists of this story were also a little disappointing. While some were immediately obvious (such as the identity of the person who set up Nick), others require extreme leaps of logic to deduce. The identity of the Fence is not revealed until the final chapter and Nick virtually guesses this based on a single word. While there are clues earlier in the tale, it annoyed me that this was the overall twist of the story when The Falcon's Malteser took so long building to its final impressive conclusion.
I also felt that Nick went a little too far in this story. He's always been brave and very mature for a thirteen year old, this time he seems to have become a little psychotic. He takes his trial as joke and even flat out kills some people later in the story. For me, this made him difficult to like and relate to.
I also feel I should note that this story hasn't aged very well and so young readers may need some terms (Iron Curtain, Noel Coward, Mother's Pride) explaining to them. As this novel is set in London there are also some English concepts (council housing, O-levels) which may not localise very well for young readers who are not English.