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Death on a Dirty Afternoon (The Terry Bell Mysteries Book 1) Kindle Edition
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Visit Brigitta's Author Page Brigitta Moon
It is an entertaining and sometimes gritty amateur sleuth mystery that reminded me of Divorcing Jack by Colin Bateman. The pacing seemed right and there are enough well-conceived twists to keep the reader interested.
My only criticism is the heavy use of local dialect. As an American, there were several characters whose dialogue I was not able to decipher, resulting in me having to guess (at times) what the characters meant to say. If the author is trying to reach readers outside of the UK, he may want to consider reducing the amount of local slang used.
Still, it was an enjoyable and engaging amateur sleuth novel.
I read Death on a Dirty Afternoon in a day, not because it’s a short read, but because I wanted to find out who killed Big Ronnie, boss of a taxi firm. This was the first book I’ve read by this author and I’d cheerfully read another. I’ll try not to reveal the plot in this review as that spoils everyone’s fun. I didn’t work out whodunit, as the author did a sterling job keeping up the suspense. I was particularly charmed by the main character, taxi driver Terry Bell, who acted as amateur sleuth on a mission. The detectives in several books I’ve read have often left me feeling cold and disengaged, but Terry was an endearing, humorous, normal man muddling through heroically. The book was not formulaic. Terry wasn’t riddled with personal angst, which made a refreshing change. He’s just an average Joe determined to find out the truth behind the murder of his boss. I was rooting for him all the way as he dashed headlong into difficult and dangerous situations.
The characters mostly talk to each other in broad Geordie, which I found surprisingly easy to follow, despite me being a southerner. There’s oodles of gentle humour in the book and I laughed out loud many times; ‘Step away from the curry,’ tickled my funny bone. It was not a blood and guts, steamy sex book, which was fine by me as they are two a penny. Terry and his sidekick Carol’s relationship was touching, often funny and there was an undercurrent of ‘will they? won’t they?’ which added extra suspense. The minor characters were also beautifully drawn and I could visualise each one, plus their surroundings, which is a testament to the author’s skill. I don’t know if one is planned, but I sensed there could be a second book starring Terry and Carol at some point, but I must wait and see. I’d certainly be keen to read it.
The story develops in a seaside town somewhere on the Geordie Shore and the beginning is intriguing as it presents the first victim laid on his own dining table in broad daylight. This is what makes Terry Bell – the protagonist - get involved in a dangerous adventure, trying to find out what has actually happened.
In the tradition of such novels, the story also involves interesting women and, of course, cars. There’s also humor, sometimes dry or bitter but catchy. I understand that the writer tried to keep everything as authentic as possible and that is why he used the language specific to the area. I am afraid though that not everyone would find it easy to follow.
Terry Bell – the protagonist – is not a very smart or strong guy. He is just a regular guy, a little adrift in life, not sure of what he wants or what he should do. However, he tries to do the right thing most of the time. The evolution of the character is subtle but in the end he is well developed and quite likable. The female protagonist makes a shy appearance and her presence in the story is quite marginal in the beginning. The character is rounded enough in the end.
So, good plot, with twists, which keep the reader involved; interesting characters; good humor. So why 4 stars and not 5? Because here and there I had the feeling that the plot lacked cohesion here and there. It’s not a biggie but detracted from the story, though.
Nevertheless, a good read – I will recommend it.