Newest Review: ... thought out story that was well told. As I say I have read several of the stories within the series and I find the Detective series ve... more
The Biker's past
Once a Biker - Peter Turnbull
Member Name: CPTDANIELS
Once a Biker - Peter Turnbull
Advantages: Absorbing and well thought out story
I have read several novels by Peter Turnbull in the past few months. For me he writes excellent crime fiction and I am a particular fan of the Hennessey and Yellich series of which the book I am reviewing is one. Since 1999 the author has written 19 of these with this novel being written in 2007.
==About the author:==
Peter Turnbull is a very successful English author whose appeal has become international. He was born in 1950 and lives in Yorkshire. So far he has written a grand total of 37 books and his work is often compared to the likes of Peter Robinson or Ian Rankin.
==Synopsis of the book:==
Just before Tony Wells dies he gives a deathbed confession to one of the staff in his Hospice. And although only in his 40's cancer has brought a peaceful but premature end to his life as within hours of this he dies. Meanwhile the information is shared with the Police and this is that 20 years before Terry North was buried in Foxfoot Wood in York.
Detective Chief Inspector Hennessey is brought in to investigate. They very quickly discover that Terry North is on the missing persons list and when I sniffer dog is taken to the wood a body is discovered. Leaving after checking of the dental records Hennessey the sad task of breaking this to the man's parents. Who at least can now bury their long lost son and try and move on in their lives.
Hennessey discovers that both dead man where 20 years ago part of a Biker group called the Dungeon Kings and that Terry's girlfriend was murdered by another member of the gang a few weeks before. However the Police find that the old biker members are unwilling to talk about what happened all those years ago and that somehow they must find who killed Terry North in the wood and why.
==My thoughts on the novel:==
I thought this was a wonderful piece of crime fiction; I really enjoyed it and thought it was both well and consistently written to a high standard. And indeed while it was not the most in depth Detective story I have ever written it was still an enjoyable read and one that made perfect sense and made me feel on completion that it was a well thought out story that was well told.
As I say I have read several of the stories within the series and I find the Detective series very interesting and strangely relaxing. I think that is because the stories are not too complicated and deep which means you can easily follow them without having to look too far for the answers. But that is not to say the story is obvious at all, they are well thought out and certainly this story was no different.
If I want a more in-depth, complex story with many unexpected twists and turns I would probably look towards Peter Robinson. His novels are much longer and have a higher level of complexity. However that is not to say Peter Turnbull's novels are not enjoyable but they are just shorter and more to the point of the investigation. They focus more on that than the Detective's involved private and home lives.
Before I entered the bookshop I knew I was looking for a story within the Hennessey and Yellich series. I also knew I still have several to read from the series and luckily they had the complete series for sale. I was confident even before buying that I would get a first class Detective story what would not be too long but cleverly thought out and written.
It was not the title that convinced me to purchase this one. As traditionally I do not like biker stories as I struggle to understand and relate to their culture. It was the summary on the inside cover of the book. It was quite short just three snappy paragraphs telling about a deathbed confession. I liked the idea of the Detectives digging up the biker past to try and discover what happened over 20 years previously.
Despite not having a prologue to introduce the story I found I was very quickly into the story and enjoying what was happening and the path it was going down. It went straight into it and I like the direct approach and I think with shorter novels it is a must. The concept of a death bed confession I thought was a good one and it appealed to me the Police going back in time to when this Biker group were at their peak of popularity and influence.
I liked the pace and the feel about the story. The way the team split up to investigate the Biker gang and those who knew about them. So that it was not just about Hennessey and Yellich it was a team effort. I discovered the further the story developed the more interesting it was and it took the odd unexpected turn. I found I was desperate to uncover the truth and find out what really happened and why.
The story was for me written in a very appealing way and I found once I picked it up it hard to want to put down and although quite a short story for me ultimately an absorbing and compelling one. Yes there were one or two aspects of the story that didn't quite make sense to me but I won't give too much away here. As far as I was concerned it was a well thought out story and one it was easy to pick up and enjoy.
With an expectable conclusion. It was not one of those 100 mile and hour endings just one that followed the general pace of the back and more importantly made sense in light of everything else you had read. Although right at the end of the story there is something that made me wonder and cast the whole story in a slightly different light, sadly I can explain no more!!
What I found particular intriguing in this story was the mystery and silence the Biker gang employed. That really added mystery to what had happened and meant the Police Officers had their work cut out to discover anything. This was well explained and helped the reader get more involved in the story by trying to deduce for yourself who was involved by the way those involved acted and what limited information you had about them.
George Hennessey is the novels lead character but for me an unusual one. He leads a team of Policemen, but he is by no means a one-man band and he listens, advises and supports his team members, so that it is more of a team effort in these stories. I found him to be because of his positive and very open attitude to be a likely man who while efficient seemed to lack some of the charisma of some Detectives. But for me that is a pleasant change as it should ultimately be about the case not the investigating officer.
For me this series of books is all about the excellent support characters the author creates. In this one I was particularly interested in the Biker Gang with all their nicknames and how 20 years later these did or did not match their circumstances. I found these characters to be interesting but I would given to choice liked a little more depth and detail about them, then the story could have created more suspense and mystery.
What I find unusual and quite quaint about this series of stories is at the beginning of each chapter the author updates you with the day, date and time and the time when the chapter concludes. But not only that you get a line of information about the chapter, not exactly a chapter name just a small insight giving little away about what is about to happen, I find this always useful as I try to deduce unusually badly what's going to happen.
One feature you could find either annoying or a great help was about halfway through the story Hennessey asked Yellich for a complete picture of where they were in the investigation. For me this was really a useful reminder of exactly what had happened and the progress of the investigation. It was only two pages but I can imagine for some it would be unnecessary for me it helped to reinforce what I thought I already knew so quite valuable.
I really enjoyed this well thought out and absorbing Detective story. For me it was well written with plenty of mystery and suspense about it. What impresses me with this series is the author really focuses on the investigation so you get a shorter but more detailed focus on the crime. Yes it would be interesting to have a longer more in-depth story but I like this author's style and think by doing what he does it gets the best out of his writing style.
Price: £5.99 (New at Amazon)
Publisher: Severn House
About the author: http://www.fantasticfiction.co.uk/t/peter-turnbull /
Thanks for reading my review.
This review is published on both Ciao and Dooyoo under my user name.
©CPTDANIELS March 2011.
Summary: Enjoyable Detective story