If you have read A Popluar Murder then beware as this is the same book under a diffrent name. It is the first, in the what has become known as, the TV Detective series. It is a very good first novel and sets the tone for the series that followed.
We follow Dan Groves as he is tranfered from being the Environment Correspondent to the Home Affairs, or crime beat for ITV South West. The setting of Plymouth is well done and brings a new location to crime fiction. The people are not portrayed as yokels and Plymouth is well described.
I would highly recommend this series as it develops Groives and Detective Chief Inspector Adam Breen well and draws you into thyeir lives. We have the commitment phobe Groves and the estranged family man Breen who compliment each other well.
The story is well told and highly recommended.
I was looking forward to reading The TV Detective, having read and enjoyed all of the earlier books apart from the first one, A Popular Murder, which is expensive and hard to get hold of. The TV Detective follows the same premise as A Popular Murder, i.e. it describes how the main character, Dan Groves, a local news reporter, meets and first works with the Police to help solve a crime, the murder of a local businessman with plenty of enemies. It is not however the same book as A Popular Murder as claimed in an earlier review but a complete rewrite. I know this as I contacted the author and he was good enough to reply. Apparently A Popular Murder was published on an "as required" basis. Now that the subsequent books have been quite successful, it was decided to publish the story properly but in order to do himself justice, he decided to use the writing experience he has gained by rewriting it from the ground up. There are several different elements and plot twists that weren't in the earlier book.
Anyway, to the book itself. I enjoy reading Simon Hall's stories despite not being a huge fan of the crime genre. I think it's partly because I am familiar with the Plymouth area, where the books are set and partly because the main character essentially does the same job as the author, i.e. a crime correspondent on the BBC South West News. This makes it all the more authentic. Mainly though, his characterisations are spot on and the plots are not overly complicated. I find I get to really empathise with the characters. The TV Detective is in the same style as the other books in the series in that the reporter, Dan Groves, is invited by the police to tag along with one of their investigations and help them out by reporting on the news when it is likely to benefit the enquiry. In this book, you get to find out how this arrangement started and how he needed to build up trust from the Police. It also introduces how he has to balance the needs of the Police with the insatiable demands for a good exclusive story from his producer
There are several recurring characters, including Dan's drinking buddy, the Paparazzo Dirty El, his "crew", cameraman Nigel and outside broadcast man "Loud" Jim and it also introduces Claire, who would become a love interest in later books. Although the characters have a brief introduction in subsequent books for the benefit of new readers, it's interesting to see how these characters were introduced in the first place. As with most of the other books, there is a secondary plot but this is very small and revolves around a riddle set by a murderer before he was sent down and has been bugging the police for years. It had quite an ingenious answer in the end. And yes, there are plot holes (e.g. the use of a hit man wasn't considered) but to be honest I enjoyed the book so much, it didn't bother me.
I found this book well paced and extremely enjoyable to read. If you haven't read any of Simon Hall's books before, I recommend starting with this one. It may not be everyone's cup of tea but if you like it, then you are sure to like the others as they are in much the same vein.
on 16 July 2013
I read a comment along the lines of 'writers are not average readers', and it was more as a writer that this book disappointed, since the language felt simplistic, at times laboured, but I assume that much of that had to do with it being the first in the series.
Reading it as a story, much of it was more than competent, certainly entertaining (what more could one ask?) and having read a later one in the series I wanted to be in at the beginning with the relationship between Dan and Adam. Insight into the doings of a crme reporter original and interesting.
on 22 February 2014
This will never be considered a 'classic' but I did find this very enjoyable. The hero is a 'reluctant' crime reporter on a local TV network. He has been allowed to follow the detectives to learn their methods after the death of a very dodgy business man. This has a slight parallel to the 'Castle' series on TV - except there will be no romantic chemistry between the two main characters.
Local TV reporter Dan Groves has been moved by his news editor from the Environment beat to Crime, and almost immediately has a major story to get his teeth into: the murder of prominent, unpopular local businessman Edward Bray. He soon finds himself covering the investigation from an inside perspective as he follows lead detective DCI Adam Breen on his enquiries, initially confined to a silent role but later being given more and more leeway as the sceptical police officers start to cut him some slack.
Author Simon Hall is himself a TV reporter and it is to be assumed that many of the details of the job portrayed here are accurate. But as a crime story, it perhaps lacks something - a sting in the tail? It's all quite pleasant to read and Dan is a likeable hero, but somehow it all doesn't quite ring true. Of course this is the case with many crime stories, but the whole premise of Dan tagging along with the stereotypical DCI with personal problems, hostile Detective Sergeant and others is hard to accept.
There are plenty of suspects for the murder of Bray, but they're all rather conveniently arranged, with little thought given to the possibility that it could be anyone else. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing, but it does add to the feeling that Hall either hasn't thoroughly researched what a real police investigation is like, or didn't want to spend time padding the novel out with extraneous details.
Overall this is an enjoyable enough crime novel. It doesn't go anywhere the genre hasn't gone before, it won't keep you awake at night, but it's a gentle tale which offers a certain degree of promise. There's not much more to say.
I really enjoyed this book. The basic storyline is that a reporter Dan Groves, is invited along with the police to help solve a murder. Now setting apart the fact that this would not happen, remember it's a novel, the premise works well. Dan Groves is a likeable character as are all the secondary characters. There is plenty of action to keep the most ardent of crime fans happy, and the story is extremely well written.I didn't at any point guess the end. Some reviewers have said it is a rewrite of a previous story, but as I hadn't read any of Simon Hall's books previously it wasn't really that much of a problem for me. It turned out to be the first in a series and I will certainly be buying others. Once I started I wanted to keep reading, so that is a recommendation in itself. I enjoyed this book and would definitely recommend it.
on 24 December 2010
I enjoyed the slight twist on this , approaching it from out side the police force .Very readable and liked the litte link into his next book
Also enjoyed insight into TV reporting .Some characters a little sterotyped I agree , but arent all police detective novels and films ?
His boss demanding results was a nice replacement for grumpy chief - constables a la Morse , Frost etc
Didnt see need for girl friend involvements, that felt a bit detective - by numbers
Overall , am looking forwrd to next one
on 23 September 2014
I'm not usually a reader of crime fiction, I must admit. Not since my days of studying French, when I used to read Agatha Christie novels a-plenty in an attempt to improve my understanding of La Belle Langue. The language was easier to grasp in Christie than Gustave Flaubert, for a start.
However, since meeting Simon Hall at Swanwick this year I decided it was time to expand my repertoire of reading material. He was kind enough to sign my copy, after all. So, I wasn't really sure what to expect when I picked up The TV Detective, but in fact I enjoyed this book immensely.
Our central character, Dan Groves, finds himself in the unenviable role of crime correspondent just as a notorious local businessman is found murdered. Loved by no one except his poor, long-suffering secretary, there is no shortage of suspects for his murder, but it takes Dan and his CID mentor, Adam Breen, some time to pin down the precise whys and wherefores.
The author's own career as a TV reporter shines through very much through young Dan, and we can therefore assume all TV references are taken from real experiences. I particularly liked the portrayal of the formidable editor, Lizzy. I can hear her stilettos clattering down the corridor right now...!
Other reviewers have mentioned the references to A Popular Murder, upon which this novel is based. Personally I cannot comment, since I am not familiar with it.
This is a great debut novel and I am looking forward very much to catching up with the rest of the series. Thank you, Simon!
This was the first book I had read by this author so cannot compare to his other work. It was an enjoyable enough read but lacked that sparkle that would make it worthy of 5 stars.
Dan is a TV reporter, he is given the opportunity to work closely with the police following the murder of a locally disliked businessman. Initially they are less than enthusiastic at having him tail them but eventually start to accept him as they track down the killer.
The story is reasonably well paced and easy reading but it was a little unlikely, and I wouldn't rush to read any more in the same series. Pleasant enough to fill a little time but nothing more for me.
This is the second book by Simon Hall I have read and I can safely say it won't be the last. The first of his detective novels I read was Evil Valley, which again featured journalist Dan Groves and DCI Adam Breen. It was therefore good to get a proper intruduction to these characters in this book, how they first met and developed both their professional and personal relationship. I now feel inclined to re-read Evil Valley with this background in mind and will search out further Groves/Breen novels Simon has written, the plot lines of one or more I believe are hinted at in this book.
The characters are very believable, we see enough of their character flaws, background and personal life to make them feel real to us, but this is book is still very tautly written, economical even and things move along at quite a pace. One of the best things for me is the fact there are no unbelievable plot leaps and sudden convenient breakthroughs in the investigation they are working on. I feel this must be due to the author's working knowledge as a crime reporter/journalist and knowledge of real cases and good old fashioned police work.
As with Evil Valley, I found the location of Plymouth both novel and nostalgic, as I was a student there in the mid-nineties and recognised most of the locations used in the book. It is therefore very atmospheric, right down to the familiar Devon weather and the scenes on Dartmoor are very effective, it being such a beautiful yet barren and unique location.
I won't give anything away, but the story itself is well done; the seeking of a murderer of a detested, ruthless local businessman and kept me guessing throughout most of the book. The suspects and various ancillary characters have just enough information given about them to make them realistic and as the story unfolds you come to realise they all have their part to play. There are other characters who come and go, who you feel will have an impact later in the story of Dan and Adam, particularly regarding Dan's lovelife! I look forward to finding out more...