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by David Harrison
Creme de la Crime, April 2006
304 pages
ISBN: 0954763491

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Nick Randall is one muddled bloke. A one-night stand has more or less ruined his relationship with wife Sarah, he's got a tenacious journalist on his tail, and his job as an insurance investigator means Neanderthal members of Joe Public are likely to thump him.

SINS OF THE FATHER thunders along at a fair old pace -- there's murder, sex, rape, blackmail, fraud and some lesbian snogging all within the first 50 or so pages!

Nick is the son of the late Eddie Randall, a TV comedy star from the 1960s. A celebrity biographer is working on a book of Eddie's life, and warns Nick and his sister Diana that there's some very dodgy goings-on to rake up. And, he says, he's going to publish and be damned, with or without their input.

If this isn't bad enough, Nick's marriage looks like it has crashed and burned, and it's down to his one-night stand. Sarah moves out, but within days she's found dead, and the police start asking questions.

And there's more . . . Nick is investigating Roger Knight, a dodgy car dealer with a thoroughly unpleasant henchman in the shape of Kevin Doyle, who's decided Nick is a blot on his landscape.

SINS OF THE FATHER is a rattling good read, and author David Harrison manages to keep a firm hand on all the threads in his debut novel, which is set in Brighton. The resolution is perhaps a touch too neat (blimey, those plods are everywhere at just the right time!), and Harrison teeters precariously with some of his stereotyping -- journalists are avaricious liars, lesbians are predatory, and men will bed anything in a skirt.

The characterisation is slightly uneven in places. There are some horribly vivid creations, such as Ted Wheeler, a contemporary of Eddie Randall's, but Nick doesn't always convince as a character. He's tenacious for certain, and has an intgerestingly complex relationship with his sister, but Harrison could have done to have sketched in more on what provoked him to have a one-night stand. Killing off Sarah early on means that thread hangs in the air.

If you like Jake Arnott, with his sleazy takes on 1960s London, you'll probably like SINS OF THE FATHER. Harrison moves between Eddie's era and the present day with a sure hand. And he's created a fascinating and very sinister character in the shape of Alex, the figure who haunts much of the book. Harrison isn't quite in Arnott's league as yet, but he's a writer to watch for sure.

Reviewed by Sharon Wheeler, May 2006

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