Kelly, Erin - 'The Ties That Bind'
Luke is trying to write a story about true crime. At the start of THE TIES THAT BIND, he wakes up to find he is in captivity, tied up, a bag over his head, and in great pain. How did he get there? And where is he? He tells himself to think, and try to remember what he'd been doing recently, and this leads into the recounting of the recent past, starting with Leeds, where he had been a freelance journalist, but had given it up to write a true-crime book on an old gangland mobster. He'd hooked up with Jeremy, who has only recently come out as gay, and ended up living with him, in his flat, while he tries to write. But gradually problems emerged, not least with his book, and he ends up going to Brighton to escape Jeremy and find a new angle on gangland crime.
In Brighton he hooks up with his old friend Charlene, and finds himself moving into an old house, only recently vacated when an old lady, Kathleen Duffy, recently passed away. Perhaps a stroke of luck, as it seems that Jocelyn Grand, a well-known gangster of the past, who owns the letting agency that Charlene works for, was a long-time friend of Kathleen, visiting her regularly up until she died. Will he talk to Luke? Could he be the new subject for his true-crime book?
Amid his growing relationship with Jocelyn, Luke is trying to fend off Jeremy, who took his leaving very badly, do background research into Jocelyn, and other gangsters in Brighton over the years, and he meets an ex-reporter, Sandy. Sandy had covered the stories of the early days of Joceyln Grand, including his involvement in a gangland killing. Now, she seems to work as a freelance cuttings service provider from home. Will she help Luke find out what he wants? What does she remember from that time? Gradually, as Luke becomes more and more immersed in finding out what really happened to Jocelyn back in the '50s, his life becomes more and more dangerous, as he starts to uncover secrets long buried away.
It's an interesting story, as despite his violent past, Jocelyn seems to be a reformed man, and his age and health, together with the recent death of Kathleen mean that he is in the right frame of mind to potentially help Luke. The character of Luke works well, as he is both eager and tenacious in his pursuit of his story, yet his trusting nature also makes him quite blind to what is happening right in front of his eyes. The author dexterously leads the reader first one way, then another, before finally letting us in on the secret. An entertaining read.
Michelle Peckham, England