What if someone you accidentally killed came back to haunt you?
When the perfect crime results in the kidnap and murder of Megan, his only child, East End villain Mickey Speight is grief stricken. But now, nearly thirty years later, Megan sends a message to her father, gone-to-ground in present-day Margate.
As the messages from his dead daughter keep coming, Mickey teams up with a young American female therapist to discover whether this really is a voice from beyond the grave, or if somebody has loomed out of Mickey’s past wanting revenge. Someone is fingering Mickey’s collar and Mickey doesn’t like it.
Mickey realises that he must haunt the old East End boozers, betting shops and strip clubs of his youth if he’s to find out what really happened to his daughter.
I love books that are set in places I’ve been to – I was in Margate in the summer as well as a couple of years ago. I think it’s a great place, with a great atmosphere and the Turner Contemporary is amazing. Not the kind of place you would find Mickey Speight though. He’s more the strip joint type. An old East End lag.
I love the way Mickey’s parts of the book (we also hear from Taybor and others) is written in his ‘voice’ even when he is not speaking as such. It’s a great story-telling technique, one I often try to imitate. Now I am no judge of East End villains never having met one, but the way Mickey ‘tells’ the story seems very authentic.
I did struggle a bit with the bad language (and I’m not just talking about the ‘f’ word) I have to admit – it’s the second book in two weeks where I’ve had to put my feelings aside – but I guess it was normal to them. Or maybe I’m just a prude when it comes to swearing.
Mickey and his wife Linda run the St George’s pub in Margate. It’s basically a lap dancing club. It’s Mickey’s pride and joy. There is no funny business or drugs or hard porn – he doesn’t approve – and he takes care of his ‘dancers’. Again I’m out of my depth. We don’t see that kind of thing in Cheltenham – except during Cheltenham Races when we get mobile lap dancing venues. I jest not.
But Mickey has an enemy, Mr Khan, a property developer, who will go to any lengths to get Mickey to sell up so he can build houses on the land. Again, you need to understand that some of the ‘racist’ language used here (I’m not going to say what as I know Amazon won’t approve my review) is how the old villains spoke to each other. Again, the author is being authentic. It’s a bit like showing everyone smoking in a 1970s cop show on TV. People are offended and complain, but they did it.
Detective Chief Inspector June Taybor, a week off retirement, is the police officer who led the original investigation into the disappearance of Mickey’s daughter Megan, and here she is again, facing her nemesis.
Mickey is not a very likeable character, but there is just enough sympathy there to make you want to keep him alive. Only just. It goes without saying that the story is very good, but for me it was the final third that really gripped me. This is where it all started to change. The twist was such a shock – even if you guessed one bit of it, the truth was much cleverer. Poor Mickey – he never knew what hit him (metaphorically speaking). The whole outcome was just brilliant and a bit sad to be honest.
And the lesson to be learnt. It may be the East End way but never take the law into your own hands. It just doesn’t pay.
Many thanks to @damppebbles for inviting me to be part of #damppebblesblogtours
About the Author
Tim Adler is a journalist and former commissioning editor on the Daily Telegraph, who has also written for the Financial Times and The Times.
His debut self-published thriller Slow Bleed went to number one in the US Amazon Kindle psychological thriller chart. Its follow-up Surrogate stayed in the top 40 psychological thrillers for more than a year. Bestselling crime author Peter James said of Tim’s third novel Hold Still, “Adler’s engaging style and sharp pace kept me glued”.
The Sunday Times called Tim’s most recent nonfiction book The House of Redgrave “compulsively readable” while The Mail On Sunday called it “dazzling”. Tim’s previous book Hollywood and the Mob was Book of the Week in The Mail On Sunday and Critic’s Choice in the Daily Mail.
Tim is a former London Editor of Deadline Hollywood, the US entertainment news website.
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