6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
A good catch...,
This review is from: The Catch (Paperback)
I am new to Tom Bale's writing and reading `The Catch' which is a stand alone novel was an excellent introduction to this author. I found this story fairly zipped along, as we become embroiled in the life of Robbie Compton, whose one moment of intense stupidity has serious repercussions for those closest to him.
Robbie is an arrogant, irresponsible and headstrong individual whose greed and foolhardy actions, not to mention a dangerous liaison with a gangster's wife, draws him into the sights of not only a couple bent on revenge, but also into the path of a ruthless henchman. As the story unfolds, the bonds of friendship and loyalty become fragile with Dan and Cate, in particular, navigating the fallout of Robbie's actions and both paying a personal cost, stretching the boundaries of their relationship with the charming yet scheming Robbie. The characterisation of all three is spot on as Bale bestows Dan and Cate with complicated and emotional personal lives that become all the more difficult due to Robbie's actions, and we can see just how strong these friendships really arein the present, as they all seem to have grown away from their younger selves and are clinging to the loyalties of the past. Bale's firm grip on the characterisation resonates though other figures in the central plot who veer from seedy, to stupid, to calculating and scheming, and I would highlight in particular Patricia and Gordon Blake, who are after Robbie's blood and whose motives in this form an interesting diametric in the plot. Are they really as bad as we think they are? They are assisted by Jerry, one of the most inept right hand heavies ever, and the brilliant Stemper, a self contained and utterly ruthless troubleshooter and a mass of contradictions that plays with the reader's perception of him to some degree.
The plot is well-paced enough, but does rely at times on questionable coincidences that overall were forgiveable as the story arc did draw you in and hold you there. A good level of violence and bloodshed throughout, and some genuinely unexpected moments that catch the reader offguard. There are quite entertaining touches including Stemper's initial introduction to the book, the bumbling haplessness of Jerry, and Robbie's fledgling career as a bored housewife's gigolo in order to acquire an alibi, that add a nice humour to the book and peppered throughout with genuinely laugh-out-loud moments. Indeed, Robbie is a very effective comedic foil to the teeth gnashing and exasperation of the dull and intense Dan, and Robbie's confused sister Cate.
So, all in all, a good, well-executed, distinctly British thriller, that is certainly worth checking out, and having already purchased a copy of `Skin and Bones' on the strength of this one, I'm glad to have discovered a new author...