Fallout (Tito Ihaka) by Paul Thomas

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Fallout (Tito Ihaka) by Paul Thomas

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Category: Crime
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Ani Johnson
Reviewed by Ani Johnson
Summary: Maori police detective Tito Ihaka may have started investigating a society party murder but he also uncovers a revelation about his own father's death. A New Zealand crime thriller that keeps twisting to the end.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 258 Date: March 2015
Publisher: Bitter Lemon
ISBN: 978-1908524492

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Maori Tito Ihaka may be disrespectful, brash and the sort of police sergeant who ploughs his own furrow but he gets results. He therefore seems the ideal investigating officer when the cold case of a murder at the party of a political high flier is reopened. However he's also given time to investigate something more personal: his father, union activist Jimmy Ihaka, may not have died through natural causes after all.

Yorkshire born, New Zealand adopted author Paul Thomas has been around the writing block. He's been a journalist, sports' biographer and scriptwriter as well as providing us with some really good fiction.

Tito Ihaka is probably Paul's most famous creation and fans will have seen some changes in Tito's life since he made that first appearance in Dirty Laundry (aka Old School Tie) back in 1994. Now he's back, albeit demoted, for his fifth adventure. Don't let that put you off though - having read none of them before this, I can vouch for both writer's and hero's ability to entrance without the need for any previous knowledge.

On the book blurb Ian Rankin refers to Ihaka as being …terrific maverick cop, violent, profane, funny which is an interesting mixture of adjectives as well as an accurate one. This is a guy who makes up his own rules and will swot anyone in his way (Tito not Ian). This includes a previous outing (I did my homework!) in which he not only knocked the assailant out, he urinated on the unconscious body (most definitely Tito not Ian)! However our cop has a soft side and a heart he keeps for those who deserve it. In this case it's his girlfriend's son as their troubled relationship continues behind the conflict and problems at work.

Paul has a distinctive writing style that shows his journo roots. He is somewhat thorough, providing history and back stories for everyone of importance, sharing them as we go along. Being drawn away from the main story may be a little disconcerting at first, watching a myriad of names and situations come towards us. In fact some critics aren't keen. For those of us who become accustomed to them though the asides take on a fascination of their own and, as things start to fall into place, the past creates a texture for the present to be viewed against.

The clever thing is that Paul manages this without ruining past novels for those of us reading backwards through the series. In fact as we realise that Tito has history with the likes of PI (formerly Police Detective) Van Roon, our readerly taste buds are tantalised. There's also some great banter between Tito and his boss, the grumpy McGrail as both hide the respect harboured for each other beneath a thin veil of huff.

Meanwhile back at the tantalisation, once we understand that we're following three mysteries it grows. The party murder, the demise of Tito's father Jimmy and the disappearance of a bloke called Brightside may seem disparate but gradually they converge in an unexpected way. Including the factual disagreement between the New Zealand and American government following New Zealand declaring itself a nuclear free zone adds even more weight (in a good way) to the tale.

Paul writes more about people and situations than he does about scenery but for those who want evocation of the rolling vistas of New Zealand, there are other sources. Me? I'm more interested in the raised wry eyebrow style of the humour, Tito's way of cutting to the chase and (also thanks to Ihaka) that understanding that if anyone looks at me as if their haemorrhoids are flaring up, it means they think they've said something profound. This is more the New Zealand of the blood, volatility, grit and political intrigue than that of the tourist board but I'm not complaining at all.

(Thank you to the good people at Bitter Lemon Press for providing us with a copy for review.)

Further Reading: If you'd like to peruse the other amazing stuff coming out of New Zealand at the moment, The Conductor by Sarah Quigley is highly recommended, and not just by us. If you prefer crime thrillers, not NZ-based but superlative just the same is Kill Fee by Owen Laukkanen or perhaps Standing in Another Man's Grave by Ian Rankin himself.

Buy Fallout (Tito Ihaka) by Paul Thomas at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Fallout (Tito Ihaka) by Paul Thomas at Amazon.co.uk


Buy Fallout (Tito Ihaka) by Paul Thomas at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Fallout (Tito Ihaka) by Paul Thomas at Amazon.com.

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