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Kate Brannigan, a female private investigator does a friend a favour, (Jett) he is a washed up singer songwriter and he hires Kate, so she can track down a missing songwriter, by the name of Moira Pollock, Jett's so called soul mate and ex co-writer. He being a lead singer composer in a rock band, which has hit hard times. This is a search that takes her into some of the seediest parts of Leeds and Bradford.
She is also involved in another case which is to try and find out who is selling knocked off goods at half the price of the originals. In other words who is ripping off the Dealers which have the Franchise to sell the good legally.
These people are the Smarts. By name only as although they seem quite able to hook wink the police and make complete asses out of them all the way through the book, they have yet to fool Kate who is very much onto what their game is and is not frightened to put herself in the line of danger. She practically solves this case for the police single handed. which is some feet in itself as she is trying to do both jobs alongside each other. Add to this a murder and we have a really good premise for a murder mystery going here.
Jett is an old friend and although Kate finds it hard to resist his charm and juvenile good looks she is reluctant to take the case on and towards the end wishes she had not bothered, even for her friends sake. There is something about his plea that she finds too hard to resist and grudgingly finds herself embroiled in not only a missing persons case, but involved in the seedy side of the under belly of the knocked off Garment trade and then of course where would we be without a Murder just to spice things up a bit.
Does she manage to do all three ? Well yes to some of these, she is found wanting help with others.Her boyfriend Richard comes in handy on these occasions. He being a journalist and having contacts.
Where does the Murder come in? I can hear you all asking, well as the book evolves she is to find a lot of problems along the way and too much telling would ruin a very good yarn. She finds her quarry, and finds a deep storyline in her search, she also ends up right in the middle of a murder case without realising it to start with.
Finding herself mixed up with Drugs, Theft, Extortion and attempted murder plus a bit of Computer hacking thrown in for good measure which go a long way to improve this storyline and all in all this plot works relatively well.
This developes later in the book and without revealing too much she has to work out who "dun-it". There are a lot of suspects to work through Gloria Jett's over efficient Reception PA, Kevin, his Roadie, come everything else, and then Neil who is bought in to write a biography on Jett. Also a few others who to start with seem incidental but somehow move up the list of main suspects as time goes by, and of course the police are little help picking up the wrong suspects as is the way in most whodunits, typically in the style of Miss Marple and the like. But Val Mcdermid writes in her own witty and inimitable style which leaves you wondering to the end. I was so sure I had the killer banged to rights, but was also wrong in my supposition, so not as easy to work out as some whodunits'.
She Kate that is has a colleague who helps in the office and backs her up when needs must. But this person is very much a background kind of guy and also her boss. He also saves her from becoming a victim later in the book too.
She herself is a hard nosed down to earth kickboxing go getter who doesn't let anyone get in her way when she wants something bad enough. She is feisty and sometimes a little mental.
Speeding after the Smarts in a car chase, and almost getting run off the road at other times it is a book that lends itself to the TV if anyone has a mind to make a series out of the books Val Mcdermid writes.
Cleverly written and fun to read, witty and worrying all at once. Very good light reading for when there is absolutely nothing better to do of an evening I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Val Mcdermid was a journalist for sixteen years and is now a full-time writer living in South Manchester. In 1995, she won the Gold Dagger Award for Best Crime Novel of the Year. Her novel, A Place of Execution, won a Los Angeles Times Book Prize, was nominated for the Edgar Award for Best Novel, and named a New York Times Notable Book of the Year.