Monday, 2 July 2012
'The Gilded Edge' - Danny Miller
Danny Miller does not mess around, or hold back his punches, after reading the prologue I was already gripping the book tighter than normal. A young woman is returning home late at night when she is assaulted. When her killer pulls back, hammer dripping with blood, the murderer sees a young girl at the top of the stairs. A witness, only one thing to do...
Unfortunately, the murder of a young black nurse is over shadowed by the death of a white playboy in Belgravia. This is not something the Met would ever admit, but Vince Treadwell can't help feeling pleased finding himself at the Belgravia crime scene.
DCI Maurice McClusky (Mac), Vince Treadwell's superior, is calmly and methodically taking in the neighbourhood as they walk up to the house. Vince, is calmly and methodically observing Mac in turn, anything to learn the tricks of the trade. Together they dissect everything around them, then proceed by slotting the pieces back together, revealing the hidden truth behind the playboy's death.
I enjoyed this opening scene with the two detectives analysing the crime scene, one teacher, one student. It was almost a zen like experience. Danny Miller has a knack for, in a effortless way, making things feel realistic. It's easy turning his words into images.
Obviously, as the blurb has already given away, these two cases are far from clear cut. Mac, who is preparing for retirement, let's Vince take the lead. We follow Vince on a exciting, and dangerous, journey through London. From the bed of a beautiful aristocrat to the clutches of a legendary crime lord, from the poorest to the richest.
Vince is easy to like with his die hard attitude, his snappy appearance, and the fact he is at least as dangerous as the Jamaican rude boys he goes up against. I tried to delve deeper into his personality, to find out what makes him tick, what his fears are, but I did not get very far. Vince has a strong sense of justice, and a deep connection with London, that much is clear, but I wish he would have faced some difficult decisions based on his personality. Don't get me wrong, he's got enough going on, but it would have been the difference between good and excellent.
I love Danny Miller's writing, full of energy, a blunt but still sophisticated choice of words, with a real sharp edge to it. There is a lot of attention to detail, especially when writing about London in the 1960s, and it feels like he put a lot into researching the period. The result, a London which both dazzles and terrifies, but very much a London which comes alive.
Danny Miller also does a good job with the plot, when you think it's easy, the plot twists, and you find yourself back to guessing. I thought it was very interesting The Gilded Edge is partly about the Jamaican crime gangs, as I recently found out his first book, Kiss Me Quick, involved Corsican gangs. It seems like the writer might have an interest in sub gang cultures.
The Gilded Edge was easy to like, and Kiss Me Quick is now on the reading pile as well. Tired of slick CSI like crime, where it's all about dazzling you with gadgets, and looking for something more real? This book is for you then.
The Gilded Edge weighs in at 400 pages, and is published by Constable & Robinson.