by Ian Patrick
Kindle Edition, 232 pg.
Fahrenheit Press, 2017
Read: May 31 – June 2, 2018
. . . there’s no money in policing unless you cross the line.
But that doesn’t mean that Sam Batford isn’t going to try.
Batford is an undercover police officer who’s after a kingpin of some repute and his guns and drugs importing. DCI Klara Winter is a no-nonsense head of a task force going after the same kingpin, Big H, more directly — phone taps, applying pressure to associates, interrogations, etc. Batford is assigned to her task force to supplement their intelligence. Neither want this assignment, and work to undermine it immediately. They do actually help each other out — but it’s almost despite their best efforts. Their mutual dislike, distrust and antagonism is one of the more interesting dynamics that I’ve run across lately.
We see most of the novel through Batford’s eyes, with the occasional glimpse from Winter’s perspective. It doesn’t take much to get a strong sense of Winter’s personality and thought process. Just from the volume, the reader ends up seeing things Batford’s way — whether or not they should.
Batford infiltrates Big H’s organization — at least to a degree — for one job. A large one, no doubt, one that would secure Winter’s career (and would do his own some favors). Like most undercover officers (especially in fiction), he cuts many legal and ethical corners to do so. There’s some question — as there should be — whether or not Big H really trusts him, and the constant testing, evaluation and insecurity makes for great reading — it’s an atmosphere you can almost feel through the words.
So Batford is doing what he can to get enough information to take down Big H, to gain his trust (and therefore access), to disrupt the flow of drugs and guns — and mostly to stay alive. If he can find a way to make a little money while he’s at it . . . well, he might as well. Winter just wants enough evidence to make some arrests — and maybe some headlines — so she can get the budget to keep her team working.
This is not a book for the squeamish — there are a few scenes I know that would cause some of my friends and readers to throw the book down in disgust (the same scenes will cause other friends/readers to fist pump their excitement — I’m not sure which of these bothers me more). There’s one scene in particular that made me think of the dental scene from Marathon Man (I’ve never watched the movie just in case they nail that scene from the novel).
There were two . . . I don’t want to say problems for me, but things that kept me from going over the moon with Rubicon: Batford works his way into this assignment by worming his way in to the trust of one Big H’s associates while they’re in Bali. Do Metropolitan Police Undercover Officers really get to globe-trot the way that Batford does? Is that a bit of Artistic License? Is it a sign of just how far outside the lines that Batford colors? Does it tell us that he’s not just a Metropolitan Police Officer? It’s a minor point, I admit — and it’s really easy to accept as kosher (but that doesn’t mean I don’t wonder), because watching Batford’s machinations there is fascinating.
Secondly, Batford displays a very particular vocabulary — I’m not sure if it’s London slang, or Ian Patrick-slang. I could believe either. I will admit that there were periods that the slang got in the way of the story. That’s probably on me — and some of it is Shaw’s two countries separated by a common language phenomenon. With a little bit of work, and a small amount of guesswork (and a willingness to go back and revisit a passage later), it was all accessible enough and perspicuous.
There’s a lot about this book that I’m not sure about — I’ve been chewing on it for a couple of days, and it’s going to take a few more at least. Patrick’s characters take a little chewing, I think. It’d be easy to put Batford in the “murky anti-hero” category and move on — but I’m not sure he fits there; I’m even less sure where Winter fits — she’s not the straight-laced cop you’re at first tempted to label her, nor is she just the figure that makes life difficult for our anti-hero to do what he wants (although she functions pretty well that way). But even if/when I decide how to categorize these two — then I have to decide what I think of them as these characters — are they good people? No. That’s easy. Are they good fictional beings in their particular roles? My gut says yes, and my brain leans that way, but I’m still working on that.
Either way, I’m enjoying chewing on the novel and these ideas — and I’m definitely getting my money’s worth out of this book, just having to think about it this much.
There is part of this evaluation that’s easy — the writing? Gripping. The pacing? Once it gets going, it’s a runaway train that you’re just hoping you can hang on to long enough to get through to the end. The narrative voice is as strong as you could ask, and even when you’re thinking this cop might be more deserving of a being handcuffed on his way to a long incarceration than his targets, you’ll need to hear his singular perspective on the events around him.
Strong writing (some of my favorite sentences of the year are in this book), characters that demand thinking about, a plot that you can’t wrap up in a tidy bow — this isn’t your typical thriller. Whether it’s your cup of tea or not, it’s one that you won’t forget easily.
The first interview with a witness.
Or, as Breen had put it, ‘Initially a witness, anyway.’
‘Meaning?’ Dan asked, as they walked down the stairs from the MIR.
‘It’s remarkable how quickly a witness can become a suspect in this business.’
All it needed was a musical sting to emphasise the drama of the detective’s words. Dan was beginning to suspect his new colleague was a frustrated actor. He certainly enjoyed a little theatre.
Dan deposited the thought safely in his mental bank. It might just be useful.
Carter Ross, I. M. Fletcher, Annie Seymour, and Jack McEvoy are my favorite reporters who happen to find themselves in the middle of criminal investigations (“find themselves” is typically code for throw themselves into, slip past the all the blockades surrounding, etc.) — I think Dan Groves has added himself to the list. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Dan Groves is a TV Reporter for Wessex Tonight, covering environmental news. With the Christmas holiday rapidly approaching, he’s forced to help cover the latest in a string of attacks on prostitutes. He and his cameraman/friend Nigel are found taking a less-than by-the-book approach to getting a colleague of the latest victim on camera (really, Nigel didn’t do anything — but he didn’t stop Dan, either). The story they aired was good, but their tactics were reported — between his editor’s need, his skill, and his editor’s fresh material for leverage — Dan’s taken off the Environment beat and made the program’s new crime reporter.
The problem is, he knows nothing about reporting on Crimes. And demonstrates it with a facepalm-worthy performance at his first crime scene (a murder, of course) after getting this assignment. So he pitches this idea to his editor, who in turn runs it by the local police. The police haven’t been looking good to the (and in the) press lately, Dan needs a crash course in detective work — so why doesn’t he shadow the investigation, giving the police some good coverage and PR while he learns on the job from the best around. DCI Breen — and (the underused) DS Suzanne Stewart — aren’t crazy about this idea, but they aren’t really in a position to argue with the brass, so they bring him on. Tolerating his presence largely at the beginning, but gradually finding ways to use him.
This is one of those cases that the police would probably be okay with not solving — at least most of the police. Edward Bray was in Real Estate — he owned many buildings, treated his tenants horribly and evicted them when he could find a way to make more money off of the land/building. He was heartless, notorious, and had an enemies list worthy of a, well, an unscrupulous land-owner. Yet, he also gave generously to a local hospice — so generously that many people had a reflexive notion to commend him while they suffered cognitive dissonance between his perceived nature as a shark, and his obvious and selfless good work with the hospice center. The list of suspects is long — former tenants, an employee, competitors he profited from and ruined, his own father — and the head of the hospice center who chafed under his authoritative hand.
So there’s the setup — a pretty good hook, I have to say. It’s an interesting pairing — Castle-ish, but not as goofy. I could totally buy this without suspending a whole lot of disbelief. The reactions of the other police officers help ground this. So who are the investigators?
First is Dan Groves — he seems to be a decent reporter, we’re told repeatedly that he has a history of looking out for the little guy in his news stories. He’s into the outdoors, hiking and whatnot. He’s very single and has been for some time — there’s a hint of something significant in his past that put him there, but we don’t get into that in this book. I’ve never read about a reporter not wanting the crime beat — it’s the most interesting, right? I just didn’t get his rationale for quite a while. But by the time we’ve heard about a few of his past stories, I guess I could see it (and have to admit that Environmental News sounds pretty dull, but wouldn’t have to be in the right hands). Lastly, Dan has a German Shepherd named Rutherford, who seems like a great dog. This speaks volumes for him.
DCI Adam Breen is your typical driven detective — stern, unbending (at first, anyway), not that crazy about the unusual staffing on his inquiry. He has a flair for the dramatic (as noted above — but it’s worse), seems to spend more time and money on clothing than most (somewhere, Jerry Edgar is fist pumping the idea that he’s not alone). We eventually get to know a little about him outside the job — and it seems to go well with the character we’ve met. He seems like the kind of detective most police departments could use more of. Breen will warm to Groves (and vice versa) and will find ways to use his strengths, as Groves finds ways to flex them.
DS Suzanne Stewart, on the other hand, is little more than a name and a presence. Hall needs to find a way to use her character in the future or drop her. This character is the biggest problem with the book. Not an insurmountable one, or one that greatly detracts from the book, but still. I get that Hall’s priority was establishing the relationship between Groves and Breen — and he nailed that. But he could’ve given us more of Stewart along the way. We could also use a little more development with Nigel and Dan’s editor, Lizzie — but I honestly didn’t notice how underused they were. Stewart stuck out to me.
Hall does a really good job of balancing the murder inquiry and dealing with the characters outside of the case — Breen off-duty, Dan’s blossoming personal life, another story or two that Dan works on. The suspects are well-developed and interesting — and there are times that you could totally buy all of them (well, maybe all but one) as the actual perpetrator. That’s really hard to pull off, many writers will start off with a long list of suspects and really only have one or two that you can believe being the killer after one conversation. They all have similar but individualized reasons to want Bray dead. Most of them also have strong alibis, because you don’t want this to be easy. The solution to the case is clever — and better yet, the way that Groves and Breen have to work together to get the solution proven is well executed.
Hall’s writing is confident and well-paced. He knows how to use characters and plot to strengthen each other. There are occasional turns of phrase that will really make the day of readers. I have a lot of “oh, that’s nice” notes throughout the book. This is a solid start to a series — the kind that makes me want to read more. I’m looking forward to finding out a little more about Dan’s history as well as seeing the relationship between he and DCI Breen grow and change (and be challenged, I assume). Good stuff.
So today we’re pleased to be welcoming a Blog Tour Stop for The TV Detective by Simon Hall to our lil’ patch of cyberspace — this spotlight post and my post about what I thought about the book here in a bit. At the end of this post, there’s a giveaway, too. But let’s start by learning a little about this here book, shall we?
Dan Groves is a television reporter newly assigned to the crime beat and not at all happy about it.
Dan knows next nothing about police work or how to report on it so when he persuades Detective Chief Inspector Adam Breen to allow him to shadow a high-profile murder inquiry it seems like the perfect solution though it soon becomes clear some members of the police force have no intention of playing nice with the new boy.
With his first case Dan is dropped in at the deep-end. A man is killed in a lay-by with a blast through the heart from a shotgun. The victim is a notorious local businessman, Edward Bray, a man with so many enemies there are almost too many suspects for the police to eliminate.
As tensions rise between Dan and the police he comes close to being thrown off the case until the detectives realize that far from being a liability, Dan might actually be the key to tempting the murderer into a trap.
The TV Detective is the first book in a classic crime series from Simon Hall, who until recently was the BBC Crime Correspondent for the Devon and Cornwall area.
About Simon Hall:
He has been a broadcaster for twenty five years, mostly as a BBC Television and Radio News Correspondent, covering some of the biggest stories Britain has seen.
His books – the tvdetective series – are about a television reporter who covers crimes and gets so involved in the cases he helps the police to solve them. Seven have been published.
Simon has also contributed articles and short stories to a range of newspapers and magazines, written plays, and even a pantomime.
Alongside his novels and stories, Simon is a tutor in media skills and creative writing, teaching at popular Writers’ Summer Schools such as Swanwick and Winchester, on cruise ships and overseas.
Simon has also become sought after as a speaker, appearing at a variety of prestigious literary festivals. His talks combine an insight into his writing work, along with some extraordinary anecdotes from the life of a television reporter, including the now notorious story of What to do when you really need a dead otter.
Now 49 years old, he began a broadcasting career as a DJ on the radio and in nightclubs, then moved into radio and TV news. He worked in Europe, London, Ireland, and the south west of England, before settling in Cambridge.
Simon is married to Jess, Director of Libraries at the University of Cambridge, and has an adopted daughter, Niamh. She’s an army officer, which makes her father both very proud and very nervous.
Simon lectures on careers in the media at Cambridge University, and in schools and colleges. Amongst his proudest achievements, he includes the number of young people he has helped into jobs in broadcasting, and aspiring writers into publication.
As for his likes, Simon lists beer – he judges at real ale festivals – cycling the countryside, solving cryptic crosswords, composing curious Tweets (find him @SimonHallNews) and studying pop lyrics.
For more on Simon, see his website – www.thetvdetective.com
Simon’s Social Media:
At the last moment, I decided to add a (and man, I hope this is okay to do…) Giveaway for this book. I’m not that creative, and I don’t want to bother with setting up a Rafflecopter or anything, so we’ll keep this simple. In the next 48 hours (check the post for the time — Mountain Daylight Saving Time zone), leave a comment on this post — include the name of your favorite fictional reporter (preferably one that shows up in Crime Fiction), and make sure I can get in touch with you somehow. I’ll draw two names for an electronic copy of this book from Fahrenheit Press (format of your choosing).
My thanks to damppebbles blog tours for the invitation to participate in this tour and the materials they provided.
Welcome to our Book Tour stop for Faith Hunter’s Dark Queen, the twelfth (and best — so far, anyway) Jane Yellowrock novel. Along with this blurb about the book and author I’ll be posting my 2¢ about the book in a little bit, although I guess I just spoiled it, eh? The book is released today, you should head out and buy it (or, I guess, surf to the e-retailer of your choice and order it).
Jane Yellowrock used to hunt vampires, but now she must fight–and win–beside them.
As Enforcer to the vampire Master of the City of New Orleans, Jane Yellowrock stakes her reputation and her life on keeping her territory safe. But Leo has been issued a blood challenge by the emperor of the European vampires, who seeks to usurp all of his power and possessions. If Leo loses the match to the death, the city will be forfeit, and the people of New Orleans will suffer the consequences. Jane can’t let that happen.
Preparing for the duel requires all of Jane’s focus, but with so much supernatural power in play, nothing goes according to plan. She has to rely on herself and the very few people she knows she can trust to stand and fight. Only two things are guaranteed: nothing is sacred, and no one is safe.
Her long-running, bestselling, Skinwalker series features Jane Yellowrock, a hunter of rogue-vampires. The Soulwood series features Nell Nicholson Ingram in paranormal crime solving novels. Her Rogue Mage novels, a dark, urban fantasy series, features Thorn St. Croix, a stone mage in a post-apocalyptic, alternate reality. Two of her fantasy series have been nominated for Audie Awards.
Under the pen name Gwen Hunter, she has written action adventure, mysteries, thrillers, women’s fiction, a medical thriller series, and even historical religious fiction. As Gwen, she is a winner of the WH Smith Literary Award for Fresh Talent in 1995 in the UK, and won a Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Award in 2008. Under all her pen names, she has over 40 books in print in 30 countries.
In real life, Faith once broke a stove by refusing to turn it on for so long that its parts froze and the unused stove had to be replaced. Her recent hankering for homemade bread and soup resulted in fresh loaves each week and she claims that the newish stove feels loved and well used—because Faith talks to her appliances as well as to her plants and dog. She collects orchids and animal skulls, loves to sit on the back porch in lightning storms, and is a workaholic with a passion for jewelry making, white-water kayaking, and RV travel. She likes the shooting range, prefers Class III whitewater rivers with no gorge to climb out of, edits the occasional anthology, and drinks a lot of tea. Some days she’s a lady. Some days she ain’t. Occasionally, she remembers to sleep. The jewelry she makes and wears is often given as promo items and is used as prizes in contests.
Win one of two complete sets of Faith Hunter’s Jane Yellowrock novels! Contest runs April 23rd until May 11th.
Rafflecopter link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/9751c0429/?
My thanks to Let’s Talk! Promotions for the invitation to participate in this tour and the materials they provided.
Merlin returns to Lycenea a hero, victorious over the Visi-Gauls in a gruesome and exhaustive campaign that claimed the life of one of his men and saw the annihilation of the Visi-Gauls’ Southern Army.
Merlin’s peaceful reprieve is cut short however, as he must now find and expose the corrupt Senator who initiated the war in the first place and plots to subvert the Empire for himself. He is aided by the powerful sorceress, Morgana and Felinius, a former disgraced and condemned knight who knows the inner workings of the Brotherhood.
Merlin must also protect two of the captives he rescued during the war with the Visi-Gauls, one of whom is a boy named Dante, whose power has been prophesized to defeat Herod Antipaz, the corrupt Senator, and his deadly allies who threaten to destroy Gilleon.
Herod makes plans of his own for eliminating Dante. The boy’s problems continue to mount precipitously- for not only is he being ruthlessly hunted down by Herod’s minions, but he must also face down a brutal training program in Round Table Academy, where he faces elimination on a daily basis. Should he be eliminated, he will no longer be under the protection of Merlin and his Brotherhood and his death almost a foregone conclusion.
His only hope, his only salvation is Merlin- as is the country of Gilleon.
Check Out Book One: Gilleon
Five hundred years after the death of King Arthur, a sadistic tyrant of Visi-Galia, attacks unprotected and vulnerable townships in Gilleon, igniting a deadly chain of events. Because he was unfairly denied a proper chance to compete for valuable mine rights and outbid by a Councilman from Gilleon, he reasons that he can invade Gilleon’s vulnerable townships and force the Council to negotiate with him.
Merlin, the lead knight in Lycenea, has foreseen just such a predicament. With the gifts of premonition, telepathy and intelligence, he and 9 of his most formidable knights go into battle against Jason and his force of nine thousand.
At stake is everything. The fate of the prisoners who are awaiting to be sold into slavery rests in the hands of the deadly knights. Specifically, two girls who were attacked in Missalia and are now orphaned, are at the mercy of the sadistic King. Will Merlin and his band of knights be able to rescue them in time?
Adele, the older sister, has plans of her own for escape. Will she prove successful or will her plans be foiled? If she is caught, what will become of her and her sister, Sylvia?
Dante, a boy from Coifen, is also now orphaned. He is the sole survivor of a brutal attack on his family. An unlikely heroine has come to his rescue- a mysterious white wolf. Unfortunately, the attack has left him blind. He and his guardian make their refuge in a remote cave. He clings desperately to the hope that God has spared him for a reason. Every night he goes to bed, he says a prayer to his talisman, the Merlin, a game piece that his father gave him before he was forced to abandon him. It was the last gift he received before all hell broke loose. Will he be rescued? Will he find a permanent haven? His fate also lies in the hands of the Merlin.
Merlin and his troupe lead the Visi-Gauls in a high stakes game of cat and mouse. Jason, though capricious, is not stupid. He uses every means at his disposal to eliminate Merlin. Who will prove the victor? Fighting a severe war of attrition, it seems at times that Jason will inevitably win; but don’t count the Merlin out. He is beyond slippery. Every time it seems that Jason has the gifted knight, he is thwarted yet again.
Get Your Copy of Book One: Gilleon for FREE!
Character Study – Dante
He once lived a peaceful existence in the quaint little town of Coifen with his mother, Sophia, his father Lucian, sister Isabella and dog Mitz. That life is abruptly shattered when his father is exiled and the rest of the family is plunged into a fight for their life. With assassins on their trail, they are eventually cornered and forced to defend themselves, along with the aid of their neighbors.
Tragically, Dante’s mother, sister and dog are brutally killed. He barely escapes with his own life, if not for the intervention of a mysterious white wolf, whom he named Cammilia. Together, they hole up in a remote cave for months until they are finally rescued by Merlin.
Though blinded in the attack that killed his family, Dante is brought to Round Table Academy by Merlin and given the choice to enter their school as a recruit. Feeling it is the only way he can regain some control over his life and maintain a safe haven, he accepts.
As promised by his headmaster, Germanicus, the training is brutal, the academics grueling and mentally demanding. In addition, he faces elimination bouts nearly everyday. Should he fail in even one of his tests or lose an important match, he will be expelled from the school- most are. Almost fifteen hundred boys enter Academy, but only a dozen or so make it to knighthood. So the odds are not in his favor.
Yet he toils on with an indefatigable spirit and inadvertently makes a powerful enemy- Maximus, the start recruit and only son of King Menelaeus. He is everything Dante is not- over-privileged, spoiled, arrogant. He has an ingrained sense of self-entitlement and it is reinforced by his stellar performance as a recruit.
Despite this, he feels threated by Dante and makes it his mission to see that Dante is removed from the Academy- at all costs. And he is not above resorting to dirty tricks and subterfuge to achieve it.
Dante’s problems continue to mount precipitously. Not only is he in danger of being removed from the school since being targeted by Maximus, but he also faces the looming threat of the man that ordered his death. Little does he know that Herod, the man who seeks his demise and the dissolution of the Brotherhood is right under his nose. And he has put his own plans into action, leveraging the rivalry between Dante and Maximus.
Dante is resourceful, intelligent and relentless, but will it be enough to thwart the pressures that seem to be closing in on him like a coiled serpent? He has the support of his newfound companion, Cammilia and Merlin. He clings to them desperately like a raft in the middle of the ocean, but will they be enough to stop the machinations of Gilleon’s most powerful senator and his vast resources? Only time will tell.
About the Author:
Author Rory D Nelson is an accomplished actor and has been seen in several high school productions of “Oedipus Rex,” “My Fair Lady,” and “Little Shop of Horrors.” He owns a window cleaning business in the Sacramento area, enjoys wine tasting, snowboarding, traveling and working out. Rory D Nelson is an eclectic and prolific writer, having written numerous comedy skits, commercial parodies, and ghost-written many humorous t-shirts. He has the most unusual imagination of any fantasy author, since he also brings his deranged sense of humor into play in his books.