One of the best crime novels I have read for a long time. There are so many wonderful characters:
- Jack the teenage professional burglar, a real Artful Dodger
- Joy his sister, obsessed with newspapers that might have some item about their dead mother, filling up their house with piles of newsprint
- Reynolds the celibate copper who tries to do everything by the book but makes mistakes left right and centre
- Adam, pregnant Catherine's loving and sometimes not so loving husband.
- Smooth Louis, the burglar turned fence, obsessed with removing every trace of his body hair and bringing up his baby son properly.
- Veronica, the old lady with cats
Added to this are the wonderful observations of everyday life and some laugh out loud humour.
- "It was so hot in the car that the seats smelled as though they were melting. Jack was in shorts, and every time he moved his legs they sounded like sellotape."First lines
- "The breathless air twitched in the wake of each car, then flopped down dead in the dust again."
- "There was a long, hot blink of arid time."
- "Jack Bright's eyes were narrow as a smoker's and pale grey, as if all the colour had been cried out of them."
- "Marvel didn't know what was worse: too much sky above or too much green beneath. He'd been born and bred in the city, and was suspicious of both."
- "It was tiny in the way that only modern houses could be - with space for all mod cons but no room for character."
- "The Lego-trained architect had tried to inject some personality into the neighbourhood by aligning each carbon-copy house at a different angle on its handkerchief plot, but that only made the place look untidy, rather than interesting."
- "Louis clipped an extendable dog-lead to a belt-loop on his tiny jeans, which made babysitting not unlike flying a chubby kite - reeling him in for orange squash, or yanking him off a collision course with drowning or dog poo."
- "Catherine's risotto was a triumph ... but Jan went on and on about it as if she'd spit-roasted a unicorn."
- "You don't want to be chumming a river."
- "Hands that shook as if he'd uncovered King Tut's tomb on a Tiverton housing estate."
- "She was going to cry. Jack remembered when she used to do that all the time and get her own way. None of them cried now. It never got them anywhere."
- "By the end of the show the northerners were sent packing like pregnant housemaids."
- "He'd had many hours that were not his finest. He was a murder detective. The interests of the corpse came first."
- "A cup of Pepsi sitting in a puddle of its own sweat."
- "He hated cats. Couldn't bear the hoity-toity little fuckers. But he was a whore for information."
- "She'd been eating the same thing for supper since 1992."
This must read novel redefines what a crime novel should be. I need to read more from this author!
Many thanks to my sister Jane for this inspired Christmas present.