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Big City Jacks - Nick Oldham

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Genre: Crime / Thriller / Author: Nick Oldham / Hardcover / 256 Pages / Book is published 2004-12 by Severn House Publishers Ltd

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      05.06.2010 11:16
      Very helpful



      Enjoyable Crime Thriller

      ==Synopsis of the book:==

      A small time drug dealer from Manchester is killed and his body burnt to a cinder. After he tried to do a runner with £25,000 of his boss's money. His body was discovered on some wasteland just inside DCI Christie's patch. However before he can investigate the case first the body must be identified.

      Meanwhile in Manchester a local gangster's trial collapses under the cloud of Police misconduct. As a result DCI Christie is asked to investigate, because this is not his area and he is not linked in any way with the case or the Police Officers involved, once he has solved this other murder.

      Christie is currently finding life tough having just returned from a period of suspension. While now being part of a team in which he is not wanted, as his boss Dave Anger makes no secret of telling him he wants him out and any mistake he makes he will do everything to get rid of him. This makes Christie more determined than ever to prove he is a great Detective and solve this case.

      ==My thoughts on this novel:==

      I found this a highly enjoyable while at the same time fascinating crime thriller. What impressed me greatly was there were so many contrasting strands to this story and I found it amazing the way the author kept the reader both involved and hooked. When so much was happening in different settings and around different characters.

      This is the second novel I have read by this author. The first 'Psycho Alley' I really didn't enjoy. As in that story I found the authors perspective on women to be outdated and quite derogatory. In the story although women only played support roles the author I thought treated them with more respect and didn't stereotype them. Which for me made it a better more palatable read.

      Maybe it was because I have slightly more experience of this authors writing style, but I found I was able to enjoy what he wrote. Although I would put it down to being a better more in-depth story that had me gripped from the very first page. I found something instantly believable and sadly honest and realistic in the author's words.

      I think the best authors write most effectively when they are writing from the heart about what they know best. It is very clear to me that Oldham knows and loves Lancashire. I really liked the way he was able to describe in fantastic detail the place and its people. It really made his descriptions of any scene come to life and helps you imagine them far more easily.

      Not only that but he also writes about the Police force from his many years of experience. His knowledge is amazing and is so deep, I really like the way he understands the politics of being in the Police fore and that surround an investigation with all the involved parties. This really comes through well in his descriptions of people on the same side but with different agenda's.

      For example I love the way DCI Christie's boss Dave Anger (what a great name for a boss!!), is desperate to offload him and put together his own team. I found this perfectly understandable and could relate to his annoyance of having Christie thrust into his team as I could Christie annoyance of having a boss who didn't want him. I found both of their feeling easy to relate to and I could see and enjoy the troubled relationship they were going to have throughout the story.

      I also liked the way the author dealt with officers feeling and thoughts about other Police forces. The distrust between them particularly if an internal investigation is launched. Some with nothing to hide are helpful and just want the mess resolved while the ones who have bent the rules are unhelpful and will do anything to protect them from blame. I thought the author really handled this well and I believe only someone with that experience could have written this so effectively and well.

      I selected this book because I was very keen to see if it was different from the previous one I read. I'm glad I did as it was so much better and I think it would have been unfair to judge the author on one performance. So when I picked up this one to be honest my expectations where quite low and I found myself very pleasantly impressed by what I read.

      As I said earlier this in the 8th in the series, but I do not think it matters too much if you start with the first or the last in the series first. You will very quickly pick up the main characters and learn from previous books what is outstanding and is still hanging over or influencing the main characters in the story.

      The story I found I immediately got into. I enjoyed learning more about this courier from a main drugs gang, who was on the run from his bosses with their money. Although I have little knowledge of such things, I found it was written in a way you wanted this man although he had done wrong to somehow get away and start a new life away from drugs. So it was a disappointment to me when they caught up with him and killed him. But by this time the author had added interest to the story by bringing in new characters in different settings.

      The story continued like this, giving you a page or a few on each characters and what was happening to them. I thought I would get confused by the contact flitting from scene to scene but I didn't at all, as it was all clearly signposted so it never happened. By having clear break and easy to identify new paragraphs you never got lost or confused who was who as it was clearly spelt out for you.

      The only real criticism with it that I had and it's really a matter of personal preference. I like each new chapter to have a new page so you can easily identify each one. To me if it follows straight after the previous as this one it firstly doesn't look as appealing and secondly it doesn't feel like the work is broken up at all and it is a continuation of the previous one.

      Within this story I don't think there were any strands I did not enjoy. Yes probably because of the subject matter there was plenty of violence, but in most cases you could see the justification for this. Only on a couple of occasions did I think the author went to far with senseless violence that added nothing to the story.

      At times you wondered if some of the stories different characters and settings were related at all. Certainly to start with it seemed unlikely, it was only over time did you see more links between them and how they could relate to the main story. I really admired the way the writer managed to keep all his 'balls in the air' and tell a well thought out story skilfully told chronologically.

      The pace was always lively; I think it was helped by the short sharp paragraphs for each strand of the story. There was always something happening, it could be thrilling, exciting, mysterious or interesting, but there was always something to keep your attention.

      The concluding chapters although clearly written and exciting disappointed me. So much had happened up to this point; it seemed to me too quick and short. I wanted a more draw out solution based primarily on the skills of the Detective. It came across to me as being a little rushed and not planned in as much detail as the rest of the story.

      I find I really enjoy a Detective story where you get to know the investigating officers private life as well. I always think this helps builds an understanding and empathy for the character. In this book I found this really easy as all the problems DCI Christie was dealing with. I thought it also helped slow down the pace of the story, so the reader could take a little breather as well.

      In this story although Christie was the main character he is in far less than 50% of the story. Which can be seen as either an advantage or disadvantage. An advantage because you get to know a variety of the support characters and a disadvantage because you don't have a very strong bond with him. For me it worked really well and I enjoyed the rich characters that supported him.

      My views on DCI Christie has certainly changed after reading this book. In the first I thought although a good Detective he was very shallow when dealing with women. In this story he was very focused on his work and so for me came across in a much better light. As a result I respected him much more and really wanted him to succeed this time.

      I found all the other characters within the story to be good too. They were all so different in character and personalities, but with excellent descriptive writing you where able to understand them and get on their wavelength, even if you did not approve of what they were doing. I found I always remembered things about them when they resurfaced later in the story despite there being many to remember.

      The story I felt was rich in suspense. The author was very good at setting a scene and then leaving you dangling just at the vital moment. Moving off to another scene building up the anticipation until he returned to that part of the story again. The suspense was always there and the author was great at holding your attention.

      This coupled together with a rich mix of mystery made the book fascinating. As you were never sure who linked in with whom and what twists and turns the author was going to inject next. Although towards the end the links became more apparent but the mystery still remained.

      If you like a very gritty, fast moving thriller with lots of action this is probably the novel for you. If on the other hand you like a more thought provoking or deep psychological thriller then this one will not interest you.


      For me this was an enjoyable thriller so I would recommend it as such. I really enjoyed all the different strands to the story and the very skilful way the author pulled it all together. The detail and knowledge of what the author writes about is first class. The only real concern I had was with the short conclusion, I felt a little robbed by it and would have liked a longer more drawn out affair,

      ==Other information:==

      Pages: 256 (Hardback)
      Price: £16.99 (New Hardback from £1.31 used)
      Publisher: Severn House
      ISBN: 10- 072786159X
      ISBN: 13-978-072786597
      About the author: www.nickoldham.net
      Year: 2004

      Thank you for reading my review.

      This review is published on Ciao and Dooyoo under my user name.

      @CPTDANIELS June 2010


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