Russell James has been named “the Godfather of Noir” by Ian Rankin. Russell writes crime novels - about criminals and victims, not the cozy procedural or whodunnit. He is the editor of Great British Fictional Detectives.
The third in the Inspector Carlyle series has an audacious and promising premise: that a child sex ring is being run from within Buckingham Palace, and that the police unit charged with protecting the royals are deeply involved in this and other crimes.
James Craig splatters the text with brand-names and with his prejudices – against police morality, social workers and the royals themselves (especially the lesser royals). But the promising start collapses into unlikely developments and most of the child- and woman-trafficking villains turn out to be quite nice.
One, pointing a gun at the inspector, has the line, “This is not like one of those movies where you have to explain everything just to give the victim time to escape.” But four pages earlier that’s exactly what has happened. In the days when publishers employed editors, one would have picked up this and several other minor but distracting faults; the queen is glimpsed at the palace one day and is in the middle of a tour of Costa Rica the next; people from Ukraine do not say they come from ‘the’ Ukraine; at a cremation you can’t take the ashes home with you; and in a crime novel you shouldn’t call a minor character Lawrence Block.