“ Genre: Crime / Thriller / Author: Keith McCarthy / Hardcover / 256 Pages / Book is published 2010-03-10 by Severn House Publishers Ltd „
==Synopsis of the book:==
It is October 1975. Dr Lance Elliott gets a call late at night from his father to say that he is at the Police Station. Lance immediately jumps out of bed and makes his way down there, but is unable to see his father or to find out any more information initially. And because he has not be charged and also because his father has not asked for a Solicitor he is unable to send for one to help him. It transpires he has been detained for arson against his neighbour Mr Lightoller who his father has a long running dispute with.
Once released Lance's father admits to his son that he was firing a rocket at his neighbours conservatory and it by accident hit the shed and burnt it to the ground. Lance is disappointed with his father especially when his discovers he was doing this to impress his female visitor. But he does discover why his father has this dispute with his neighbour as he believes he has stolen his valuable watch and sees this second hand dealer as a crook as well as a thief.
Next day after morning Surgery Lance decides to take a closer look at Mr Lightoller's shop. He notices through the window a broach similar to the one his mother owned and was stolen six months ago. So despite the closed sign he tries the door and to his surprise it opens. After a brief look round he enters he back office where he finds the owner dead with a sword stuck in him. Lance immediately calls the Police but is shocked when his father is again called in for questioning as he was seen entering the premises as well earlier that day.
Now Dr Elliott must try and find out the truth and clear his father's name before anything else can happen.
==My thoughts on the novel:==
Overall I found this a well put together and enjoyable crime thriller. It was certainly different and I am sure I have never read a crime story where the amateur sleuth is a practising Doctor. And in some ways his profession and knowing local people was an advantage in his investigation. This novel pleasantly surprised me especially as it was set in the mid 1970's I expected a dated story but I am pleased to report it was always interesting and a good well thought out piece of fiction.
Before I found this book I had never heard of the author Keith McCarthy. I was looking again for a new author and a good old fashioned crime thriller and that is exactly what I got. This is only the second book in the Dr Lance Elliott series and despite being set in 1975 it was first published in 2009. In total this English author has written 12 novels as well as still being a pathologist. What inspired me to buy this book was the compliment on the front cover comparing this writer to another author I like namely John Harvey.
I liked the title although I'm sure this could have been used in most crime thrillers!! I just wondered if there was more behind it so it had me intrigued at least. Although my interest in the book waned when I saw on the back cover three compliments for the authors work. I do not have a problem with this if it is written about the book you are about to read, this unfortunately was about a totally different one, I have not heard off.
Despite this I decided to check out the summary of the story. This clinched it for me as it made the story sound very interesting. I liked the idea of this Doctors father being arrested for arson. It seemed unlikely, but it also told of the depute between the two neighbours so it left me wondering if there was more too it. It went on to tell the reader about Dr Elliott discovering this neighbour murdered the following day and I knew I was sold on this book.
My concern was this story being set in 1975. I was worried that because it was set so long ago that it would not be a complex and interesting investigation. I thought it might be obvious and a bit basic. However as the story unfolded I am glad to say this was not the case at all and I was quietly impressed with the author's thinking. And also I quite enjoyed it when the author talked about things from this time period such as one pound notes and Queens latest record. If anything I would have liked a few more reminders as to what was happening in Britain around this time.
The story started appropriately with a prologue. It was quite short but it demonstrated the unusual relationship Lance had with his father who was a retired GP. Certainly what we learnt seemed irrelevant but it did establish their relationship was one where they annoyed each other usually on purpose as they knew exactly what buttons to press to upset the other.
When the story actually began I found it very easy to get into. I liked most of the concepts that I was introduced to and in particular this pensioner was not helping himself with the Police and the way he shocked his son with his antics. It was quite amusing and I could see Lance's frustration with him. The story had a good feel to it and I kept expecting it to be predicable and Lance's father to be cleared. But he became the number one suspect when the murder was discovered and even then the story definitely did not go down the path I expected.
With this being the second in the series I has worried that I may have missed something important. However that was not the case and while I realised Dr Elliott had been involved in a mystery before this one, It was not dwelt upon or mentioned unnecessarily. The story was full of incident and Lance and his girlfriend Max were always at the centre of it. With the author employing a number of good and well thought out twists to keep the readers interest. The only slight disappointment for me was there appeared too few suspects in this mystery but saying that I still didn't work out who the guilty party was!!
The story had a good pace about it and while I would have preferred a slightly longer story, it was full of incident. Maybe a little more depth on some of the characters would have helped as well. However the conclusion to the mystery was excellent. It took me by surprise and really impressed me. It was for me a real bolt from the blue and when all explained it did make sense and left me with a satisfied feel because of the surprise ending I had not anticipated.
Dr Lance Elliott was the main character in this story. I found him a good personality and I liked the way him and Max investigated together. With him being slower and more thoughtful while she was jumping in with both feet and not afraid of upsetting anyone. It was a good partnership and I enjoyed some of the situations they found themselves in. The only thing that surprised me was she was cast 13 years his junior and I wondered if a Doctor would have such a gap between him and his partner. I particularly enjoyed his troubled relationship with the investigating officer Inspector Masson. I found Elliott a good lead character and one it was easy to like and respect in how he carried out his own investigation.
The novels length was ideally a little on the short side for me. I would have preferred a little more depth so that I could have understood the characters in more detail, but maybe by doing that some of the suspense the author created would have dissolved. And while in general the authors writing style was good and easy to follow I thought he over did the chapters. As there was 44 and only 231 pages in total, and certainly early in the story it felt like a scene had only just begun and it was finishing.
I think based on what I have read in this story I will certainly be looking to try another book by this author. I enjoyed the mystery that was created within the story and with some good scene descriptions I felt I was with Dr Lance on his investigation. I found the lead character at times had a very dry sense of humour that appealed to me but it did also get him in trouble.
This was a novel I found I enjoyed and one I would recommend to crime fiction fans. I found Dr Lance Elliott to be an unlikely crime sleuth but one I found it easy to like and appreciate the way he went about his investigation. It was not the deepest or longest thriller but it still had the ability to surprise and impress me.
Publisher Severn House
Year first Published: 2009
Thanks for reading my review.
This review is published on both Ciao and Dooyoo under my user name.
© CPTDANIELS September 2012.