Monday, 16 May 2016

No Name Lane, by Howard Linskey - a review

 The hunt for a serial killer unearths an unsolved cold case from over sixty years ago.
Young girls are being abducted and murdered in the North-East. Out of favour Detective Constable Ian Bradshaw struggles to find any leads - and fears that the only thing this investigation will unravel is himself.
Journalist Tom Carney is suspended by his London tabloid and returns to his home village in County Durham. Helen Norton is the reporter who replaced Tom on the local newspaper. Together, they are drawn into a case that will change their lives forever.
When a body is found, it's not the latest victim but a decades-old corpse. Secrets buried for years are waiting to be found, while in the present-day an unstoppable killer continues to evade justice...

Having read, and thoroughly enjoyed, all three of Howard Linskey's first three novels - The Drop; The Damage; The Dead - each one following the life of white collar gangster, David Blake, I was a little dubious about the change of direction No Name Lane promised. I wondered if Linskey could make the leap to the other side of the moral fence, so to speak - from villainy to justice. But I had no need to worry. A great writer is one skilled enough to make such leaps. And Linskey is a great writer.

 No Name Lane is set exclusively in the village of Great Middleton - an archetypal old English village in the north east of England, where everyone knows everyone else and strangers are rarely welcomed. When a body is dug up in a field in the village during an investigation into the disappearance of several young girls, it is expected that another poor lass has been discovered. Except it isn't. It is a body from an age long past - an age only a few in the village now remember.

Enter Tom Carney - tabloid journalist extraordinaire, and Helen Norton, a young local journalist looking to earn her stripes on the local paper. Their relationship is brilliantly portrayed, the friction between them palpable, and yet with just a well-placed word or two, the sympathy each character has for the other is never far away. And there is local copper DC Ian Bradshaw. Something of a laughing stock amongst the local constabulary, Bradshaw is out to prove his critics wrong.

Linskey takes us through the unfolding story with immense skill, as we follow Carney, Norton, and Bradshaw as they investigate both crimes simultaneously. With two timelines and three points of view, No Name Lane could have been something of a mess in the hands of a lesser writer. Instead, what we have is a fantastic detective story told in a manner which is both thrilling and sensitive.

I think I'm pretty good with these sorts of books, guessing who the perpertrator(s) are. But Howard Linskey beat me on this one.

Well done, sir.

A truly brilliant novel.

No Name Lane is available on Amazon UK here and Amazon US here


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