Thursday, 7 July 2016

LONG WAY HOME by Eva Dolan - a review

The Blurb
A man is burnt alive in a shed.

No witnesses, no fingerprints - only a positive ID of the victim as an immigrant with a long list of enemies.

Detectives Zigic and Ferreira are called in from the Hate Crimes Unit to track the killer, and are met with silence in a Fenland community ruled by slum racketeers, people-trafficking gangs and fear.

Tensions rise.
The clock is ticking.
But nobody wants to talk

The Review
Long Way Home is the first in the series of books by Eva Dolan featuring DI Zigic and DS Ferreira. Zigic and Ferreira work out of the Hate Crimes Unit in the city of Peterborough - a place known to have high migration levels from Eastern and Central Europe. Dolan uses the tensions this can inevitably bring as the back-drop to this brilliant novel.

The story begins when a man is burnt alive in a shed in the back garden of Gemma and Phil Barlow - a somewhat unsavoury couple who appear to have something to hide. Dolan's decision to not use born and bred English coppers as her lead detectives allows her to explore the tensions between the native community in Peterborough and the migrant population, making this novel hugely contemporary. The power of Dolan's writing exploits this divide with a sparkling ferocity. For instance, the following conversation takes place early in the book when Zigic and Ferreira are still trying to assertain the identity of the dead man in the shed. Here, DS Ferreira is at the Barlow's intent on getting some information from Gemma Barlow:

     Gemma took a packet of Silk Cut out of her cardigan pocket and lit up, the lighter flame
     wavering as her hand trembled. She wore a thick gold wedding band over a diamond chip, 
     thin rings biting on two more fingers.
          'We didn't know there was anything wrong until we heard the sirens,' she said. 'Was it an
           'It's still too early to say.'
           Gemma nodded, took a deep drag. 'Sorry, do you want a cuppa or something?'
           'Coffee if you've got it.'
           'Instant alright?'
           'Tea then.' Ferreira took a tobacco tin out of her handbag. 'You don't mind?'
           'My grandad used to roll his own,' Gemma said. 'Cheaper, isn't it?'
           'I prefer the taste of them.'
           Gemma leaned back against the worktop, eyes on Ferreira's hands as she rolled the tobacco
     between her fingertips, packing it tight inside a licorice paper.
           'You're not English, are you?'
           'I was born in Portugal. We came over here when I was seven.'
           'No work over there, was it?'
           'Not much opportunity.' She ran her tongue along the edge of the paper and twisted it into a
     slim torpedo. 'We went to Spalding first, then when my parents got enough money together they
     moved us here.'
           'Do they work?'
           'Yeah.' Ferreira bit her lip. 'They've got a pub.'
           'They've done alright out of itthen.'
           Out of what, Ferrira wondered, grafting sixteen hours a day, seven days a week, Dad in the fields, Mum in freezing cold pack-houses, living in a caravan for two years, then a barely habitable pit for another five, four kids sharing two bedrooms; her and three younger brothers?
           'They must be proud of you, getting into the police?'
           'It was a pretty big deal, yeah.'
           'They always send you when an immigrant gets killed?'
           'What makes you think he was an immigrant?'
           The skin around Gemma's small blue eyes tightened and Ferreira bumped her age up from mid-twenties to early thirties.
           'Well, you know, they're all foreign round here now.'
           'You're not.'

The tension in this scene runs throughout the entire book. There are twists and there are turns, episodes that are truly shocking - yes, this book holds nothing back - an ending that I totally didn't see coming, and beneath it all, the glue that holds it all together . . . that constant tension.

Every character in this book is brilliantly drawn. Each has its place. Each has a voice, a tale to tell.

The Sunday Times described said 'The modern scourge of people-trafficing is brilliantly described in this ingenious and compassionate novel.' That about somes it up.

Long Way Home is one of those novels that rightly propelled Eva Dolan to the the very top of the crime writing game, and I highly recommend it.

Grab a copy from Amazon UK here and Amazon US here


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