This is the 17th in Nick Oldham’s excellent Det. Supt. Henry Christie series set around Blackpool and East Lancashire and I would rate it as one of his very best.
There are three strands to a complex plot that come together neatly at the end but keep the reader enthralled to the last page.
Christie, slowly recovering from the death of his wife and contemplating retirement, is faced with the rape and murder of a teenage girl in Poulton-le-Fylde.
At the same time, his old ally, Karl Donaldson, is involved in a counter-terrorist operation involving possible suicide bombers in Blackpool, intent on causing mayhem in a crowded seaside resort.
Meanwhile, thousands of miles away in Gambia, a man called Boone, who makes his living ferrying dubious cargos and even more dubious people back and forth across the seas, has a new assignment, one which will have great repercussions back in England.
This is a police procedural novel of the highest quality giving a detailed insight into how the system works, as one would expect from an author who was a serving policeman in the Lancashire Constabulary for many years.
After reading this book, I almost felt I could pass the entrance exam into the force myself as Oldham tells not only the steps taken in the investigation but the reasons why it is done that way and how the officers carry it out. And not always in accordance with the rules.
I am surprised there has been no television series built around Christie whose complicated love life and personal relationships with other officers make him an interested and rounded character whilst England’s premier seaside resort with its iconic tower and famous Pleasure Beach would surely make a good backdrop to the action..
If you haven’t come across Nick Oldham before, start with the first title, Backlash and look forward to months of good reading ahead.
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