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by Adrian Magson
Creme de la Crime, August 2006
288 pages
ISBN: 0955158915

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Adrian Magson is certainly turning his Riley Gavin series out at a fair rate -- this is the third appearance in two years for his journalist main character and her PI sidekick Frank Palmer.

In NO SLEEP FOR THE DEAD Frank has roped Riley into helping him serve papers on Doug Gillivray, who appears to be your common or garden scumbag. As they're leaving the building, they share the lift with three men. Suddenly Frank disappears and Riley charges round London trying to find out where he's gone.

When he reappears, it's to get justice for a former colleague. In fact much of NO SLEEP FOR THE DEAD involves several blasts from their collective pasts, including Frank's former life as a military policeman in Germany, and from their previous adventures.

One thing I like about Magson is that his settings are immediately recognisable, and therefore seem more threatening. Much of NO SLEEP FOR THE DEAD is based in London, but with nods towards the continent.

NO SLEEP FOR THE DEAD isn't a bad book; it's just fairly unremarkable. Magson's strengths are his clean, fluent prose, and the ability to plot efficiently. But what lets him down is the total flatness of his characters. Three books into the series and I don't feel I know Riley or Frank much better than I did in their first outing. I was faintly bored by the continuing saga of Riley's love life with AWOL boyfriend Mitcheson. More successful were Szulu the Rasta and Riley's eccentric Polish neighbour.

A series that's got legs needs its characters to move and to grow. Magson's got a lot of work to do on this score if he wants to produce memorable, multi-layered books.

You'll no doubt read NO SLEEP FOR THE DEAD as I did in an afternoon, enjoy it well enough at the time, but forget all about it within a week.

Reviewed by Sharon Wheeler, August 2006

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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