* Prices may differ from that shown
As an introduction, the author gives his reasons for reviving the character of Dennis Milne, cop turned hitman, who first featured in The Business of Dying, another none-too-subtly titled Kernick book which I admit I had not read. "You can't keep a good or should I say bad man down" was his reason for this novel. To be honest this struck me as a bit arrogant, as if he was doing the reading public a big favour clumsily bringing back the man with no redeeming features whatsoever.
Anyway, rant over. I had previously read Relentless which started well but went all wobbly along its winding path before an unsatisfactory end. Lent this book by a friend (who hadn't bothered to read it himself yet), I opted to check it out as every author deserves a second chance in my view.
The aforementioned Milne had previously "done a runner" to the Philippines before his crimes caught up with him. Running a small hotel with an old informant of his (a dubious pairing if ever there was one), his friend Tomboy, asked him to do one last "job" which soon led the sticky end of Billy West, a crim associate from the old days. In his last words, West confessed to killing Asif Malik in a cafe along with another man. Malik had been a friend and respected colleague of Milne in his "good cop" days and he wasn't prepared to let his death go unpunished. Against Tomboy's advice and all common sense, Milne flew back to a wet and wintry London with vengeance on his mind.
Milne then went on the hunt for the elusive Pope, the name West had given him before meeting his maker. However, Pope had powerful friends and the deeper he dug, the bigger the conspiracy and the more influential the people behind the murder became. Teaming up with local paper reporter Emma who was investigating the case also, the stakes were raised and so was the body count. The plot twisted and turned, friends turning out not to be, before the truth was unveiled and justice "Milne-style" was dished out.
The author's writing style is best described as blunt with little description, charm or wit. Kernick does however to his credit know how to keep a plot moving, but he stretches credibility massively along the way. How Milne arrives at his conclusions is never clear, he seems to stumble from one shoot out to another with alarming ease, and not a single policeman in sight. The meeting with main suspect Nicholas Tyndall (and severed head) is lifted straight from the Colonel Kurtz confrontation in Apocalypse Now, the torture scene in the bathroom is pure Scarface, minus the chainsaw.
This is an OK read for those who think Guy Richie is the new Scorcese; chav fiction if you like. The author knows his target audience and males aged 18-30 on the plane to Ibiza will probably like this (for 10 minutes) but I won't be rushing out for another Kernick caper anytime soon.
(also reviewed on amazon)
This is the third title I have read that was written by Simon Kernick. As somebody who previously only read books that centred around the second world war, Kernick's books have gripped me. I find them very easy to read, not to taxing, easy to follow.
If you choose to read this book you need to read the tiltle "The Business of Dying" firts as the character in both is a cop (or ex-cop) in this particiluar title) Dennis Milne. The general nature of the story (without going into too much detail and spoiling it) is that Milne returns from the Phillippines to London to find out why and who murdered his ex-colleague and friend Asif Malik. He has to do this whilst being a wanted man by his ex-employers so has to keep a low profile while in London. There are a number of characters involved with this plot and Kernick keeps you in suspense right to the end of the book as to those you can and can't trust. Who killed Malik......buy the book and find out!
Well worth a read, but be mindful it's not just the cost of one book, as once you have bought one there are 5 other books from Simon Kernick to read!! :-)