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3.2 out of 5 stars233
3.2 out of 5 stars
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on 30 July 2011
Carlyle faces superior officers hand in glove with politicians (who are 'born to rule') and journalists who pick and choose who and what to splash on the front pages. Very timely and rather chilling. Carlyle is from a London council estate but now sends his daughter to private school - there are many tensions between his values both in his private life and at work which make him an interesting character worth knowing more about. I thought some of the focus on Carlyle's eating habits was a bit derivative of some of the Italian detective series but it wasn't overly intrusive. The political and cultural references of the miners' strike and poll tax riots will resonate with anyone 40+. I read the book in a day as it was very well paced, though I did find some of the sex scenes a bit distateful - but then the book is about some very nasty people. I will definitely be downloading the next in the series.
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I started this book yesterday, to see what it was like, and found myself so gripped that I finished it in one day. Inspector Carlyle is based at Charing Cross station. When he is called to the murder of Ian Blake, the founder of a PR consultancy, he doesn't realise that the murder will involve him in the upcoming General Election and the Carlton twins - Edgar and Xavier. Edgar, currently Leader of the Opposition, is on track to the be the next Prime Minister - the son of Sir Sidney Carlton and a beautiful Kenyan model. Nicknamed "the Sun God", alongside Xavier, "the Dark Prince", he is aiming high and intends for nothing to get in the way of his bid for power.

Inspector Carlyle is a realistic and sympathetic character. A North London husband and father, I laughed at his wife's school worries for their daughter (being from North London I don't think there is another topic of conversation amongst mothers!) and his love of the Clash (hence the book title). However, Inspector Carlyle is seen amongst the police as 'not one of them'. Throughout the book we have flashbacks, beginning in 1984 when Carlyle was involved in the miner's strike and the Carlton brothers were just finishing at Cambridge. These give a sense of tension as we watch the main characters lives unfold and also a real sense of understanding about why events are happening, and why Carlyle is seen as 'not playing the game' and viewed with suspicion by some of the police force. It is in the events of the past that the reason for the murder of Ian Blake is to be found and, when Inspector Carlyle finds there has been a previous murder also linked to the one he is investigating, he finds himself on a very high profile case indeed.

I do not want to give away the plot of this excellent novel, but I hope it is merely the start of a very promising series. James Craig writes with great humour, his dialogue is realistic and funny and the plot exciting and fast moving. I would certainly buy the next book by this author and I really enjoyed this novel. Excellent start and a wonderful read.
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VINE VOICEon 9 October 2011
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Many parts of this novel are a 'really good read' and the central character Carlyle has a potentially interesting character that may carry future books, even if this character is rather ploddingly and deliberately developed here (see below). But this book has a number of flaws for me. Firstly, the narrative starts with some really punchy action and the story moves along in an exciting and lively way, but then it suddenly stops and we are treated to a lengthy and frankly somewhat irritating diversion into the lead character's background, and other contextual material. It's not that the character building and context are irrelevant, but the manner in which the reader is required to stop and wait for the action to continue is poorly managed. This pattern is repeated later too. If there are to be follow ups then this linkage between background and main story action needs to be better managed by the writer if he wishes to hold the reader's attention. A second feature that I found a turn off, but which others may not, was the tendency to overdo the shock factor, for example in the description of the gay sex scene near the beginning. This is not so much 'gritty realism' as rather crudely expressed and gratuitous content that could have been more effectively used by the writer, I felt. Finally, why do we need all the 'product placement' details of the items in the story? Tell us the car and model but do we really need to know all the other technical details on this and other stuff in the story. Soemtimes one felt one was reading an up-market lifestyle mag, not a book.
All in all a promising first novel in what is promised as series ('Inspector Carlyle 1')but it seems to me to be trying to a bit too hard to establish a series rather than focusing on a well-crafted story and believable plot on which to base future stories.
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VINE VOICEon 24 September 2011
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is trailed as the first in a series, although I am at a loss to explain what would convince anyone that they should read another book featuring Carlyle. Faced with a series of murders to which the incoming Prime Minister is linked, his bumbling investigation seems almost incidental to the authors desire to use the plot as a commentary on rank and priviledge. Carlyle is henpecked at home and fails to convince as a policeman - although perhaps that is the intention, using the Inspector to illustrate impotence in the face of those in power. Which would be all very well if there was anything new in the commentary.

Add in a cast of supporting characters who fail miserably to linger in the memory, a languid and predictable plot which meanders to close without either shock or surprise and this really is a poor effort.
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on 13 June 2011
London Calling had me laughing out loud. Inspector Carlyle is one of us, a normal law-abiding copper who on his journey up through the ranks rapidly discovers that his peers and superiors are not quite what we deserve. He lives a very normal London life whilst getting rid of the truly evil psychopaths who are on the verge of seizing power. It's just what we want from our anti-hero.

I enjoyed Carlyle as much for the back story and the nuances of police life as the the unfolding and deftly told story of posh people who abused their privileged position in life whilst at Cambridge University. The crime itself was shocking. Craig is not afraid to give us a depraved crime and a terrible victim in his first novel. And I found to my surprise that I had a certain sympathy with the unknown murderer as he/she/they bumped off the villians.

Carlyle was on the beat in the 1980's and found himself policing the miner's strike. Like me he loves the Clash and Neil Young - and hates bent coppers who abuse their position. It could have been written for me.

I'm not really into Crime thrillers, but I found this a gripping read. I recommend you give London Calling a go and see whether Carlyle, the anti-hero cop who does what is right not what's good for his career is for you.
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on 8 September 2011
Being interested in politics and crime fiction, I thought this book would make a perfect companion for my daily commute, and was not disappointed.

Also immediately Carlyle is not only believable but likeable, an increasingly rare combination in crime fiction. While there may be rather too many parallels with current politics in the real world for some (Mayor of London who rode the wave of popularity rather than political nouse, gang of posh boys running the country) for me the book was all the better for it.

The entanglement of police and politicians, cover ups and dodgy deals may be the work of a cynical conspiracy theorist, but it never strayed over the line where I didn't think it could all happen in reality.

There were only two disappointments for me. Not usually squeamish, some of the homosexual scenes were overly graphic, and has stopped me overing the book to people in my office. Also, the ending was flat, clearly leaving the door open for the next book in february, but if the ending had delivered, we would have all brought that one anyway. I for one was left disappointed that those who were deserving were spared.
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Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
The cover announces "An Inspector Carlyle Novel". Never heard of him? Hardly surprising as this is the first book in which he appears. However this shows great confidence on the part of the publishers who no doubt have more in the pipeline.

Modern crime fiction is a fairly crowded field - so how well does Carlyle fair? The positive news is that this is cleverly plotted and fast moving. The narrative reverts to the eighties at times and includes police action at the Miners' Strike and the Poll Tax Demonstration. This is relevant to the present day as it clarifies several of the characters (Carlyle=decent and moralistic, Miller=bad cop). Carlyle himself doesn't come over as a particularly attractive character and has some rather dubious connections with people on the wrong side of the law. Socialising with a drug dealer is really not a great idea. The other political characters are unsubtle and a bit cartoon-like but with some very funny references to present day issues. There is lots of graphic sexual violence, conflict between Carlyle and his boss and political chicanery. There are some nice cultural references: The Clash, skinny latte, summer reading lists, cycling gear.....

It could have benefitted from some editing. Did we really need to be told that Brighton is a busy seaside town an hour's journey from London? And did we need the mini-history of Brick Lane? (Perhaps they had the American readership in mind.) Some of the final scenes take place on Election Day. Some of the prospective members of parliament are gathered in a luxury hotel suite to await their results. Sorry to be pedantic but candidates would normally be in their constituencies for the results not in a group together.

The ending was a bit of a disappointment. Things seemed to fizzle out - but possibly leading on to further books.....

Perhaps this review sounds more negative than I meant it to be. I actually enjoyed reading London Calling. On reflection it is more of a black comedy than a straightforward crime novel.
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Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
I'm a fan of crime fiction. I enjoy hard boiled police procedurals and thrillers however; London Calling is nothing more than a series of gratuitously violent, sexually explicit scenes suspended between one of the weakest plots I've read for a long time. The characterisations are shallow and the huge amount of abuse against them is the only hook James Craig has to keep the reader interested. The political characters read more like footballers with their super cars, super model girlfriends, designer clothes - the cliche never ends. The murder scenes are full of torture and yet once the murderer is finally revealed the book fails to deliver anyone even slightly believable, in fact it's rather pathetic. As for Inspector Carlyle - once more revert to cliche - he's every burnt out/stressed out/beat up copper I've ever read. Struggled to finish the book, only read it to it's conclusion so I could give a fair review. Absolutely not for me.
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on 10 September 2012
The first Inspector Carlyle book and I don't know if I will bother with any sequels. Too much graphic male rape detail and I am bored with detectives that have a chip on both shoulders. Basically this book is set during a general election when one of the main protagonists and his equally obnoxious little brother are "bound" to win. Then members of a club they were both members of in University begin to be killed. After the whole club raping an innocent student he then throws himself over the balcony and commits suicide in front of his fiancee who is pregnant with his child. There are too many flashbacks to the miners strike of the 80s which I found to be distracting. The ending I thought was particularly weak with too many loose ends. Not one for me.
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on 1 June 2011
So, first off, I loved this.

Top notch, honest to goodness, page turning crime fiction in the mould of Rebus, Montalbano and Wallander.

Set against the backdrop of entitlement and contemporary politics this is a genuinely well thought out novel that embraced so many of my enthusiasms that it could have been written to order.

If you like The Crime, The Clever, The Politics, and The Page Turning I promise this is the one for you.

This book. Some beers. A couple of sunny afternoons. Happy Days.
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