Thursday, 2 June 2016

THE DEAD CAN'T TALK by Nick Quantrill - a review

The Blurb

How far will Anna Stone, a disillusioned police officer on the brink of leaving her job, go to uncover the truth about her sister's disappearance?

Approached by Luke Carver, an ex-Army drifter she's previously sent to prison, he claims to have information which will help her. As the trail leads from Hull and the Humber's desperate and downtrodden to its great and good, an unsolved murder twenty-five years ago places their lives in danger, leaving Stone to decide if she can really trust a man who has his own reasons for helping.

The Review
The Dead Can't Talk is Nick Quantrill's fourth novel. Nick's first three novels - all examples of British crime fiction at its finest - featured private detective, Joe Geraghty, so it was always going to be something of a risk to branch out into new characters. Crime writer Howard Linskey recently made it work, and Nick Quantrill has made it work too.

Readers of Quantrill's work will know that the city of Hull plays a major part in his writing. Hull is to Quantrill as Edinburgh is to Rankin - the city itself becoming a character in its own right. 

The Hull of the Geraghty novels still exists in The Dead Can't Talk, except Hull is now a city recently crowned the UK City of Culture. This being so, political machinations abound as the city readies itself for the spotlight. At the same time, a bye election - a shoe-in for prospective MP Graham Holdroyd - is attracting all sorts of attention.

Into this arena come Luke Carver - ex-military, recently released from prison, a man of means and determination, a man seeking a purpose - and Anna Stone, a police officer recently put on gardening leave for her an indiscretion at work, and the woman responsible for Carver's incarceration. Anna's sister's apparent suicide several years earlier has always haunted her. and now she has some time on her hands, she is determined to find the truth. 

When Carver is framed for the murder of the woman across the hall of the shabby house he shares, Stone and Carver's paths cross once again - each with a truth to lay bare.

And then there is Graham Holdroyd - prospective MP - what of him and the secrets he holds?

As Carver and Stone delve into the murky past of the city, they uncover a web of lies and deceit that goes right to the heart city's establishment.

The Dead Can't Talk is written in Quantrill's distinctive clipped prose - the dialogue spot on, the story tight and brooding, a whole cast of characters weaving in and out of the story, each with their own secrets to guard. 

As the different strands of the story are expertly pulled together, and the motives of each character comes to the fore, I was left with a degree of sympathy for each of them. And that is the beauty of Quantrill's writing. There are no good guys and there are no bad guys - just people. People who make mistakes, people who make errors of judgement, victims of birth, victims of fate, victims of circumstance. 

In short, people who are real.

Quantrill does not judge. He simply writes. And that is why he is one of the few writers I have read everything of. 

The Dead Can't Talk is a taught piece of British crime fiction that is another fantastic addition to the Quantrill canon, and I highly recommend it.

The Dead Can't Talk is available from Amazon UK here  and from Amazon US here

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