White, Neil - 'Fallen Idols'
FALLEN IDOLS, Neil White's debut novel, is a masterpiece. White is a Senior Crown Prosecutor in Lancashire and the degree of realism in his work makes it highly readable. We can expect many more good things to come from his pen.
This book sees the introduction of a new crime-fighting partnership: freelance journalist Jack Garrett and DC Laura McGanity. They work together to hunt down a serial killer and the speed of their progress leaves the rest of the investigating team far behind. The chemistry developing between the pair over the course of the book is as interesting as the main plot.
Somebody is shooting footballers. Nobody can explain why and anybody could be next. David Watts, a small-town-hero turned England star, is nervous and receiving mystery phone calls from a childhood friend. His concern turns to panic when his girlfriend disappears. What is going on? Just what is it from his past that he is trying to hide? It must be bad as he hires a contract killer to get him out of the mess.
The centre of activity migrates northwards from London to Turner's Fold - the small town that is home to both Watts and Garrett. The hired hitman also arrives on the scene and, amidst the resulting chaos, even more people die as we are led towards the book's climax.
When all is revealed, the identity of the killer, the motive behind the slaughter and people's reactions to everything that has happened, both in the past and the present, are quite shocking. Turner's Fold has been closing its eyes to the terrible truth for years, as its need for fame seemingly outweighed its need for justice. Indeed, how much are we prepared to sacrifice ourselves, and others, in the pursuit of selfish greed and fortune?
The book is mostly written as an account in the first person, through the eyes of Jack Garrett. Different sections then swap to look at the behaviours of the various other characters - Watts, McGanity, the killer, the hitman - you need to concentrate to keep up with the pace. This is one of the cleverest aspects of the book, as the only real indication that the focus has just shifted to a different character is the use of a different pronoun. You need to remember it is: 'I' for Garrett, 'she' for McGanity, 'he' for the contract killer etc. otherwise you can get very lost.
A fantastic book with all key elements of the excellent crime novel - well developed characters, good plot, plenty of tension. White's second book, another Garrett and McGanity case has just been released and I can't wait to read it!
Amanda C M Gillies, Scotland