THE DOLL PRINCESS

Written by Tom Benn

Review written by Adam Colclough

Adam Colclough lives and works in the West Midlands, he writes regularly for a number of websites, one day he will get round to writing a book for someone else to review.


THE DOLL PRINCESS
Jonathan Cape
RRP: £12.99
Released: 5th January 2012
Hbk

Manchester in the summer of 1996 just after the IRA bomb rocked the city to its foundations, two women are brutally murdered. One, a glamorous Egyptian socialite gets banner headlines on the front page of the tabloids; the other, a young prostitute barely rated a paragraph on the inside pages.

To Henry Bane, some time fixer for one of the city’s ganglords her death is big news, she was his childhood sweetheart and he is determined to find her killer. The search will take him into the heart of Manchester’s underworld where everything and everyone is for sale and casual violence is second nature.

The scenario for this debut novel might, at first seem familiar, guns, drugs and urban decay are all staples of the genre; the way it is delivered though is far from routine. Tom Benn is set to be one of the distinctive crime writers of his generation.

In Henry Bane he has created a sharp, sarcastic anti-hero with his own warped sense of honour and a narrative voice that is truly distinctive. The nineties setting is perfectly captured, he gets right all the little details that might have been missed by a lesser writer.

Benn’s prose style touches all the right hard boiled bases whilst making room for some distinctive uses of imagery and his dialogue accurately reflects the strung out intensity of the street. Often when crime fiction aspires towards literary status it falls flat, it is better to be a first rate entertainer than a second rate artist, The Doll Princess is one of those rare books that can hold its own comfortably in both camps.

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