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Superb Debut from new British writer...
on 13 May 2011
This is a very confident debut from Howard Linskey who has painted a vivid and realistic picture of the darker side of Newcastle. Written from the perspective of David Blake, who over time has deluded himself that he is a "white collar criminal" above and morally aloof from the violent activities of his colleagues, it charts his free-fall into a world of shit when "The Drop" of the title goes missing, along with its courier. Linskey manages to introduce a diverse cross section of characters - from the Newcastle Mr. Big through to the head of the shady organization the aforementioned Drop should have landed with via an array of foot soldiers on the streets of Newcastle. He portrays this world perfectly - or at least what I imagine this world to be like. The bottom line is you believe that there are people like this out there.
Linskey manages the neat trick of making you empathise with the "hero" of the story - although he is hardly a model citizen - and you always hope that he navigates his way through the murky world he is in. The pace of the book never flags and there are enough twists in the story to keep even the most hardened reader of the genre guessing what the denouement will be.
Whilst the obvious parallels with "Get Carter" will be drawn by many, it reminded me as much of "The Long Good Friday" in its depiction of gangsters unable to fathom out what is going on around them and who is pulling the strings behind the meltdown of their operation. I'd recommend this for anybody who would enjoy a story written in an engaging style, with a realistic plot, punchy dialogue and a dash of humour.
Whilst this is a cracking crime thriller, I think it is above all else a story about Newcastle - its good, bad and ugly. The author's words show a genuine love of the place and even though it describes its less than savoury side, it still serves as a grittily poetic homage to the city.
I am already looking forward to the promised follow up novel and hope the high bar he has set can be maintained.
Remember the name Howard Linskey, because I guarantee it won't be the last time you hear it.