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by Chris Simms
Orion, May 2010
336 pages
18.99 GBP
ISBN: 1409111075

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

DI Jon Spicer's never been the happiest little spark of light around. Now, with his marriage falling apart, he's almost unbearable. But a man who's as wedded to his job as he is isn't going to let personal problems get in the way of justice.

CUT ADRIFT boasts a topical and hard-hitting plot with asylum seekers. This isn't your bog-standard jumping out of lorries this one involves rafts and mysterious rubber ducks containing message being washed up on the beaches of the UK. And it introduces us to a scary cast of Russians, some of whom end up being bumped off in a gruesome fashion.

Spicer, meanwhile, grouses about Scousers and the state of the city and his wife's new boyfriend and the London spooks who are demanding he hands over his enquiry to them.

The grumpy hero is a mainstay of crime fiction. The thing is, though, we've got to develop a soft spot for him. And Chris Simms has never quite persuaded me to do that for Spicer, who is just a royal pain in the arse, albeit a very human one!

Another problem through the series has been that the supporting cast is under-developed I couldn't tell you any more about Spicer's colleagues now than I could when I read the first book. We see a bit of DS Rick Saville, who's forced into the uncomfortable position of piggy in the middle between Spicer and his wife Alice. The likes of his mother-in-law, his wife's new boyfriend and Spicer's journalist girlfriend are decidedly one-dimensional.

The one character to feel sorry for in the whole mess is Holly, the daughter. And the scenes with her are painful and vivid as her parents snarl at each other over her head.

The thing that keeps me reading this series, though, is Simms' gritty look at Manchester and his tough plotting. It's a storyline straight out of the newspapers and given a harsh and downright frightening twist.

Sharon Wheeler is a UK-based journalist, writer and lecturer.

Reviewed by Sharon Wheeler, January 2011

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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