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by Graham Hurley
Orion, July 2003
342 pages
9.99 GBP
ISBN: 0752850962

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

DEADLIGHT is the fourth mystery involving DI Joe Faraday and DC Paul Winter. The actions of the book take place in Portsmouth, which is one of Britain’s larger naval ports. A prison officer/ guard, Sean Coughlin, is found murdered in his flat and the Major Incident Team is called in to investigate. There is a lot of pressure to clear up this murder because not only was the victim an officer, the crime itself is ugly. Faraday is assigned to head this investigation and take control of those serving under him. Coughlin was not an ideal officer; several of the prisoners lived in fear of him; hence, there are numerous suspects. There is also evidence to suggest that this murder might be tied up with Coughlin’s service record in the Falklands War. Again another situation where he was not well liked. While Faraday is overwhelmed with this case, Winter is investigating a string of shoplifting incidents that all tie into a single mastermind. At the same time, he attempts to help his partner work through a horrible relationship situation. The action in DEADLIGHT never stops.

DEADLIGHT is a very busy mystery. Not only is there the plot of the murdered officer, there are numerous subplots covering every conceivable situation. Faraday has problems with a new police officer who is being insubordinate; Winter’s partner was involved with an abusive man; there’s a somewhat unhappy marriage; a deaf son; a new love interest, not to mention the problems in the suspects’ lives as well as some minor criminal activities including firebombing. When the book begins all of this seems overwhelming – almost like walking into a soap opera without knowing what happened last week – but once all of the characters have a chance to interact together things get less confusing and somewhat easier to follow. Winter and Faraday are the only two characters that truly have their own voices so the remaining characters do feel more like stock characters than individuals. Although the other characters are necessary to the plot, they are not unique enough to be memorable. By focusing on so many characters and subplots the book does lose some of its driving force and the tautness a good mystery produces; however, this does not always seem to be a bad thing. At times the character’s interactions and motivations are more interesting than the crime itself.

Graham Hurley seems to be on the edge of an interesting premise; he just needs to work on his goals. The numerous subplots and characters get a little overwhelming and do detract from the actual crimes themselves. His two main characters are interesting; however, the book would feel less bogged down if his focuses actually worked on the same case together rather than simply worked in the same place. If Hurley can control his tangents, he will be an author to look out for in the future.

Reviewed by Sarah Dudley, June 2003

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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