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SAFE HOUSE
by Chris Ewan
Faber & Faber, August 2012
448 pages
12.99 GBP
ISBN: 0571290639


Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Chris Ewan, the award-winning author of The Good Thief's Guide To ....... series of mysteries, stays close to his Isle of Man home for this complicated and powerful thriller. The beautiful semi-autonomous island with its own parliament, laws, police force and language is as different a setting for a tale of murder and treachery as it is possible to imagine and the book is all the better for that.

The Isle of Man is known worldwide for its Tourist Trophy races, when motorcyclists power down its winding and hilly roads at up to 200mph. Plumber Rob Hale has one ambition, to match his father, a TT legend, but when he meets a stunning blonde on a call out and she suggests he take her for a ride, he is happy to oblige. They crash, but when he comes to in hospital there is no sign of the girl and the police suggest that she is a product of his concussion and memories of his sister who had committed suicide a few weeks before,

Rob refuses to believe what he has been told and sets out to discover what happened to the girl. He is aided by Rebecca Lewis, a hard-bitten London private detective who is says she is acting for his parents over the apparent suicide of Ron's sister. Their combined investigations lead them into the murky world of big oil money, eco-terrorism and the intelligence services. As the investigation progresses Ron becomes increasingly unsure he can trust his partner and even more unsure that anything he hears, whether from the police or his own father, is the real truth.

This is a cleverly crafted, first class and thoughtful whodunit of the old school. There are killings, beatings and other violence, but only where necessary for the plot. The characterisation is good, the conversation realistic and the story flows along perfectly natural lines. Like Rob, slow and hesitant in the early stages, the narrative moves towards a bloody, but believable, climax at a rattling pace when the motives of all the major players become clear. This story of a stubborn man who refuses to accept a comfortable is a fine read for those who want their detectives to use the brains and detect rather than just pile in guns blazing.

John Cleal is a former soldier and journalist with an interest in medieval history. He divides his time between France and England.

Reviewed by John Cleal, October 2012

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)


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