Thursday, 18 October 2012

SMILE OF THE VIPER by Harry Dunn - a review


 London private investigator Jack Barclay is on the trail of financier Tom Stanton who has disappeared with £1million of clients’ money, leaving his desperate wife and children behind.

Stanton’s Parisian mistress, Danielle, is also involved with the boss of a drug smuggling cartel and Stanton is seduced into laundering money for them. When £4million of drugs cash goes missing and Tom is the suspect, he and Danielle go on the run.

The stakes are raised with the kidnapping of Stanton’s daughter, and Jack finds himself in a race to find Stanton before the mob do. As he hunts him down, he uncovers a nightmare world of torture, betrayal and murder, putting his own life in danger.

Jack quickly realises those who enter the netherworld of the Russian mafia may not get out alive. 

 I must admit, I wasn't sure whether SMILE OF THE VIPER would be my sort of book. The blurb, speaking of financiers on the run and missing drug money and the Russian mafia - it all seemed a bit too modern for my normal taste. But there was something about the name 'Jack Barclay' that drew me in. It's a good old fashioned PI name, Jack Barclay, speaking of fag ends and whisky bottles in desk drawers. 

So I jumped in.

SMILE OF THE VIPER begins with a beautiful lady walking into Jack's office asking for Jack's help to find her missing husband. Raymond Chandler territory. Hurrah. I was on my way.

But Jack Barclay is a PI of the modern day variety, with his mobile phone traces and his internet acceess. He is also smart and vulnerable and gets hurt a lot. But his doggedness, his pure bloody-mindedness to get the job done made me warm to him in an instant.

Before long, the search for Tom Stanton turns into a nightmare. But that is how it should be. Surely :)

When reading the blurb for SMILE OF THE VIPER it all sounded a bit convoluted, and I had my doubts as to whether the author could pull it off. But pull it off he did. Harry Dunn writes with such an easy way, such an eye for his story, his characters, and the reader himself, I breezed through the book. It was pure joy. 

Never once did I feel the plot wobble or the characters drift off into inconsistency. A real treat of a book, this.

SMILE OF THE VIPER is a novel I heartily recommend for all you PI officianados out there, and fans of the good old fashioned thriller variety.

Here's hoping this is just the first in a long line of Jack Barclay novels.

SMILE OF THE VIPER is available direct from the publisher here

and from Amazon US here and Amazon UK here 

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