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by David Lawrence
St Martin's Minotaur, June 2005
336 pages
ISBN: 031232880X

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

NOTHING LIKE THE NIGHT is a police procedural with the strangest feel to it. In fact at times the setting becomes even more mesmerising than what's going on with the murder case.

It's the second book in the series featuring London DS Stella Mooney. I rated the first, THE DEAD SIT ROUND IN A RING, very highly, and still can't get the bad guy out of my mind, despite the fact I've probably read a couple of hundred other books since.

I wasn't surprised to find out that author David Lawrence is also a poet and a scriptwriter. His natural 'voice' is clearly a lot more poetic than we tend to find in genre fiction. My suspicion is that for some it might get in the way of the story, but I liked it a lot.

And it fits well with the slightly off-kilter approach to storytelling. The book has a cinematic feel to it with lots of quick cutting between scenes, and confrontations taking place in harshly-lit offices, dingy rooms and neon-lit city streets. In fact at times it feels like one of those episodes of NYPD Blues or This Life where the wonky camera work makes you feel queasy!

So, OK, the literary feel to the writing, the unusual voice and the evocation of London work for me. I even got used to the weird point of view drifts between characters -- and that usually bothers me in a book. But the distinctive voice is rather at the expense of the characterisation. Stella is real, but her double love interest George and Delaney, and most of her colleagues aren't.

The plot is fine, if you're wondering about that, but fairly standard fare. Janis Parker, a glamorous career woman, is found dead, and her housemate Stephanie James has disappeared. And the police like the look of Stephanie's boyfriend Mark Ross for the crime.

Without giving too much away, Lawrence again manages to come up with a very chilling baddie who really does give the police the run-around. There's a strong ending, incidentally, to an individual and powerful book.

A word of warning -- this is an American edition and if the creeping Americanisation of UK books annoys you, you'll find this one infuriating, if only because it is so random. The slang stays, but some idiot has gone through with a spell checker and swapped centre for center and so on, and added some zs at the ends of words. What a waste of time.

Reviewed by Sharon Wheeler, November 2005

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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