The House on the Hill

Written by Kevin Sampson

Review written by LJ Hurst

Initially, L. J. Hurst worked in the backrooms of the media industry. He now divides his time between work for an international scientific publisher and a rather more British independent bookseller. In years past he was a regular attendee at the Shots on the Page Festivals from whence Shots Mag sprung


The House on the Hill
Jonathan Cape
RRP: £12.99 / £5.69
Released: August 7th, 2014
Hbk / Kindle

The House On The Hill takes DCI Billy McCartney from last year's The Killing Pool and puts him in the sun. It doesn't exactly stake him out in the burning heat and leave him to die, but it comes close. McCartney is still fighting the drugs trade, but now he has gone international: the house on the hill is in the Rif mountains of North Africa, home to an international villain and prison to McCartney's friends.

If you're going to run drugs from North Africa you are going to land them in Spain where you want people waiting for them, and if you are striving to stop drugs passing through Spain to Liverpool then you want people there to stop them. So that is a Spanish police officer involved, or if you have paid him off then doubly involved. Things are getting complicated already, even before internal affairs start investigating their own.

Suppose that you are waiting for a consignment to arrive, but you cannot afford to pay for it in one go, then you are going to be in someone's debt. Now suppose that your latest delivery went out on the streets untested and punters have started dying. Can you recall the dope? Can you get your money back? What if a new wholesale supplier has visions of running his own operation and proving to his brothers that he is not a wimp? It's not that the dope is being cut, it is that someone might feel he or she is being cut out and start complaining. People, and punters are not people in this game, are going to start dying, particularly if the police infiltration collapses. Dying, or something worse. Worse is where my summary stops.

As with the The Killing Pool (did you see the joke in that title: Jung  said that Liverpool was “the pool of life”?), The House On The Hill is divided into periods, though only two this time, “The Glass House” in 1990 and “The Red Fort” in 2014. For McCartney the visit to the Red Fort is personal, and rather than a police operation his adventures seem more like Rambo meets James Bond with a good dash of Beau Geste. Throw in girls on motorcycles, execution-style killings in Turkish cafes and final meetings on shimmering coasts, and you can appreciate that Kevin Sampson gives you adventure and then some. Towards the end someone doubts that McCartney is still a police officer, and though he puts things right, I share those doubts.

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