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by Tom Bale
Preface, March 2013
544 pages
12.99 GBP
ISBN: 1848093268

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Daniel Wade has been best friends with Robbie Compton for what seems like forever, so when Robbie asks for a favour, naturally Dan agrees, especially as Robbie's sister Cate is involved. It all seems simple to start with, just sit in a country pub and watch as Cate buys off a man called Hank O'Brien whom Robbie has upset through misusing O'Brien's house for some location filming on the side instead of just dealing with the letting management as he should have done through his mother's business.

The meeting gets a little heated, forcing Dan and Robbie to intervene on Cate's behalf, whilst still playing their roles as unconnected bystanders, a ruse that will be tested to breaking point as the story unfolds. As the two men drive away afterwards, carelessness coupled with some characteristic recklessness on Robbie's part leads to them being involved in a hit and run, with Hank O'Brien as the victim. Encouraged by Robbie, Dan allows himself to be drawn into a cover-up of the incident, but he hates the web of lies and deceit he has to weave.

The police start to close in, but so do Gordon and Patricia Blake, a couple who have their own interest in O'Brien. This part of the story unfold slowly and there are no early answers to what they were pursuing in connection with the dead man, but whatever it is requires the services of the bumbling and resentful Jerry, certainly not the most effective henchman ever, and the chillingly competent and enigmatic Stemper, altogether a different kettle of fish.

Part of the appeal of this book is the familiar trope of ordinary people caught up in extraordinary circumstances, and in this respect, Dan Wade makes a good protagonist. Never as alienating as the brash, over-confident Robbie, he holds down a good job, has a steady girlfriend and has a modest ambition to own and run a café. In contrast, Robbie is very definitely a wide boy on the make, hence his initial troubles. His idea of fun is to have an affair with a married woman and to allow himself to be set up with one of her friends, to earn a little cash on the side at what he's good at, namely having sex. But if that's the price of the alibi he needs for the night in question, Robbie is happy enough to go ahead with her plans.

The characters are complex and interesting, and the story moves along at an effective pace, tying the various strands together as it proceeds. As the lies grow ever more complex, there's a feeling of awful inevitability about the book in the fine tradition of a Greek tragedy, leaving you unwilling to look away even when things turn almost too painful to watch at times. This is a powerful and compelling thriller with intriguing human relationships at its heart.

§ Linda Wilson is a writer, and retired solicitor, with an interest in archaeology and cave art, who now divides her time between England and France.

Reviewed by Linda Wilson, April 2013

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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