Monday, August 8, 2016

"No Name Lane" by Howard Linskey

Young girls are being abducted and murdered in the North East. The latest girl to disappear is Michelle Summers. A task force is created to locate her. One of the members of the task force is DC Ian Bradshaw, who is disliked by the force after an "incident" from his past. Of course. Because all leading characters in a cop drama have to have a fucking traumatic past. Arrrggghhh.

Tom Carney is a journalist who returns home after being suspended by the top tabloid rag in the country. (A lot of time is wasted on this subplot). Looking for a story that he can use to get himself back in the paper's good books, he hooks onto the case of the missing and murdered girls. He eventually convinces another journalist, Helen Norton, to team up with him. (Helen has taken over the job Tom had before he joined the tabloid).

When a body is found, it turns out to be fifty-to-sixty years old, so obviously has no connection to the girls being kidnapped and murdered. However, Ian, Tom and Helen, in their own capacity, seek to unravel the mystery of both cases.

I am not a fan of crime novels that have two disparate plot lines running parallel to one another, yet having nothing to do with each other. It simply narrows the focus, delivering two mediocre tales instead of one gripping tale. It never works - you need to be able to link your plots! The case of the dug-up old body here is virtually pointless. The characters mentioned as suspects are all dead, so there is zero urgency to the proceedings! The storyline is wrapped up in a rather arbitrary, distracted manner, further making you wonder why the author bothered.

The plot involving the missing and murdered girls works slightly better, but is still largely predictable.

There are flashbacks to the 1930s in regards to the cold-case mystery, and these are portrayed well, but once again, rendered fairly useless by the fact the cold case doesn't amount to much of anything, due to the lack of urgency. If the characters themselves are remarking that it doesn't make much difference if the case is solved or not, why are we to care?

I was very bored by the first 100 pages. After that, it began to pick up. I mostly enjoyed the process of reading it, but suspense was decidedly lacking. I appreciated the fact the journalists were actively pursuing leads in order to solve the cases. Usually, in British police procedurals, the journalist characters are simply out to assassinate the character of the lead detective. Here, their characters were well-developed and the relationship between them believably portrayed and progressed. I actually liked them. I liked Ian Bradshaw as well, despite the tiresome trope of having the "incident" in his past. He came across as a sensitive good guy.

If the author can link his disparate storylines, I would go for another outing with these characters.

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