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
Readable as they are, titles published by Robert Hale are rarely seen in the wild, said to be because they have traditionally sold to the library market and their print runs have been predicated on that and nothing wider. If Back-Slash, Bill Kitson’s fifth title in his Inspector Mike Nash series, makes Kitson better known that will be no bad thing – it is rather good.
Set in north Yorkshire – Leeds is the alien southern metropolis to these characters – Back- Slash is a paranoid chase thriller, with an evil mastermind in the background, and a killer-for-hire happy to work in dungarees and waiter’s uniforms slipping in and out of Marshall’s life and others’ deaths.
A miscarriage of justice saw Alan Marshall convicted of the murder of his wife. Though freed sometime into his sentence, upon appeal, Marshall has been so traumatised that he has changed his name and taken a job as a forester on a remote estate. An unfortunate sequence of events, including an accident with a chain saw, and another couple’s dirty weekend in a nearby county town, mean that all the intentions to frame Marshall are re-activated. Luckily for Marshall he has bumped into DC Lisa Andrews, who has an inkling that he might be innocent, and her boss Mike Nash is inclined to believe the same thing.
A belief in his innocence, though, is not going to save Marshall from the killer’s knife – he has to go on the run. Will he meet the killer, will he meet other police who think that DC Andrews is sheltering a suspect, and will he be re-united with his dog?
Moving quickly – many similar books locating their evil mastermind in New York City, Hong Kong or Zurich would take twice the length to no more effect – Marshall locates the killer, traps him, realises the underlying reason for everything, and identifies the false trail left by the mastermind, with remote support from Andrews and Nash. Both he and the Stock Exchange may even end happily. Back- Slash? Recommended.