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One for the East Anglian Goth detective noir fan - only
on 15 April 2013
A private investigator is hired to look into a grisly murder from 20 years past and finds himself up against a closed community reluctant to let their dirty laundry be aired.
So far, so formulaic. This time the locale is an uncanny replica of Blackpool transported to the East Anglian coast (and the "reported accent" sounds a bit forced). The story has twin strands: the events leading up to the murder of a school child, and the investigation twenty years later of an alleged miscarriage of justice. The historical strand is set in the 1980's and focuses on the local youngsters who are in their last years at school and becoming Goths (punks/emo whatever), and a bent local constabulary determined to keep perceived scum like Goths and bikers in check. The music angle is clearly important to the author (a music journalist) with each chapter being titled for an 80's song from Echo & the Bunnymen, Killing Joke and others, but with little obvious link between some of the song titles and the chapter that follows. To some this may add to the verisimilitude, but if you're not a fan of that music it just comes across as a geek reading a list to you.
The pacing is pretty good, with the parallel strands being interwoven well, and there are some points where the revelation of who did what in 2003 is neatly linked to what was occurring in 1983. However, the private investigator (and the local journalist he teams up with) are pretty one-dimensional and sometimes seem to be filling the gaps before the narrative gets back to the 1980's. The violence and sexual exploitation are pretty stock and seem thrown in because that is what the genre expects, rather than to advance the story in any way.
The finale has some neat twists and turns that are thrown together in the last 20-30 pages and which, if used judiciously, could have helped keep the interest at a higher level throughout. It may well have been written with a screenplay in mind, but I'm afraid I found it straight to video.