Promises of Blood by David Thorne
|Promises of Blood by David Thorne|
|Reviewer: Lesley Mason|
|Summary: Daniel Connell's back in Thorne's latest tale of the dark margins of Essex. While searching for the recipients of a dead client's atonement millions, Connell also has to find out who is framing his best friend with murder – and more to the point – stop it happening. Gritty, page-turning, totally believable.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 400||Date: February 2016|
|External links: Author's website|
I love getting in on the ground floor. Thanks to this very website I was one of the first in this country to read the Twilight series and was smitten from the start. We'll ignore the films, the books are worth a look! In a completely different genre, but no less a lucky fluke it was through here that I stumbled across East of Innocence and put in an old-fashioned baggsy for whatever followed. On reading the second of the series Nothing Sacred I commented that I hoped that in the next outing Connell would see him up against, or siding with, some kick-ass-don't-take-it female. So far his women do tend to be 'birds or victims' . I'm pleased to say he's moving in the right direction… women are central to this story one way and another. For the first time he's given us female characters who (despite their plot-device roles, which is varied and not always predictable) are stronger than they look – strong in a number of different ways – he hasn't simply opted for my "kick-ass" option, he's more subtle than that.
Daniel Connell blew his chance at being a hot-shot lawyer a long time ago. He's now something of a one-shot in the backwaters of Essex. His home-life is looking rosier, but only for as long as he can honour his promise to Maria to stay away from violence. That's not going to happen. Danny was born into it. Brought up in it. And, lets be honest, enjoys it too much to avoid it. Turning the other cheek will never be his style.
He is trying though. Things are even looking up. He's got a very rich client who is at death's door, terrified of going to hell, and just needs a small change to his will sorting out before he shuffles off. The change, however, means leaving all of his liquid assets to 10 random strangers, names he's picked from the telephone book. The kids won't mind, they get the rest of the estate.
Trust me, these kids will mind. Saskia and Luke are the most selfish, sense-of-entitlement, couldn't-give-a-monkey's-whatsit-for-anyone-else brats you could ever with to avoid your entire life. To be fair, Saskia has her moments, but they fleet by so quickly you might question her sanity. Luke is pure bastard if ever there was such a thing. And then there's Duncan. The third child of the family is a little, well, let's say, different.
As Danny starts to track down the recipients of the good fortune, he seems to stumble across something which suggests that maybe they aren't as random as William Gove would have had him believe. Just possibly, Mr Gove, had something specific that he needed to atone for.
Meanwhile, because life can never be that simple, Connell's best friend – ex-army, hero, tennis partner, community player and all-round-good-guy Gabriel McBride (Gabe to his friends) – is accused of attempted murder. No way is this happening for real. The cops are as ostensibly bent as they used to come, but proving that was never easy back in the day, and hasn't got any easier for all the progress the police have made since the 1970s. Doolan and Akram are straight out of The Sweeney. They shouldn't work as characters in a 21st century thriller, but somehow they don't seem out of place and that should worry us more than it does in the context.
The context is that the Essex gangs never really went away. In all that space between the docks and the city and the posh new developments and the backwater farms reliant on migrant fruit pickers and the country estates with their dysfunctional families… it is all just as it used to be. The deals are done with the aid of modern technology but basically they're still just beating each other up, nicking cars, trafficking people, vying for turf, carrying on blood feuds and all the rest of it. As I come to write this, I think: this should feel very very dated.
But it doesn't. It feels very "now". Very possible, plausible, and (some nights watching the news) even probable.
The two plot-lines don't exactly converge (as you might expect) except insofar as their convergence is Connell himself – and the mess he thought he'd sorted out at the end of the last story.
This is Thorne's third Connell novel and the series is developing nicely. He picks up a thread from Nothing Sacred and pulls it taught… it snaps and away we go.
Good solid crime writing that will keep you turning the pages, and when you reach that sigh of satisfaction at the end, leave you waiting for the next one. The core characters are there… this will run for a while yet. Bring it on.
If you've been in on this from the beginning and want something else in the same vein, we'd recommend A Dark And Twisted Tide by Sharon Bolton and the other Lacey Flint novels published under the adjusted name of S J Bolton.
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