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Five grand for a couple of hours’ work? That’s what nightclub owner Roy Fowler’s offering ex-mercenary Max Iversson to act as security for a meeting he’s having with the ‘businessmen’ who are supposedly buying his club. But when they turn up at the deserted north London industrial estate where the meeting’s taking place, things go wrong and three men end up dead, including two of Iversson’s colleagues. Now he wants to know who’s behind the killings.
Detective Sergeant John Gallan is also looking for answers. He’s investigating the fatal poisoning by snakebite of a doorman from Fowler’s club. Lead are scarce and when they do appear so do bodies.
But Gallan keeps digging away, unearthing in the process a murderous conspiracy spanning this investigation and another, more heinous murder that’s been shelved, unsolved, for a long time. Unknown to each other, he and Iversson are also heading towards a final, devastating confrontation from which neither man is likely to emerge intact.
From the Paperback edition.
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Simon Kernick is in his thirties and lives near London with his wife and daughter. His first novel is The Business of Dying.From Publishers Weekly:
If British author Kernick's second gritty crime novel doesn't quite measure up to his superb debut, The Business of Dying (2003), with which it shares a few secondary characters, it still has plenty of rewards, including two first-person narrators. The paths of Max Iversson, a former mercenary now working as a private security guard, and Det. Sgt. John Gallan, an honest and dedicated officer trying to regain his previous rank as an inspector, intersect after a routine bodyguard job goes disastrously wrong for Iversson, resulting in the murder of his client and the death of the two other hired guards. The body count continues to climb as various members of a vicious London gang with connections to the Balkans turn up dead while Gallan's pursuit of Iversson continues. Both narrators adopt a slightly arch comic tone, which makes the story less dark and less powerful than The Business of Dying, but the clever writing ("he delivered his lines with all the urgency of Roger Moore's James Bond, like he might fall asleep before the end of the sentence") and numerous plot twists will engage many readers. Kernick again manages to adhere to the best fair-play traditions of classic murder mysteries while spinning a highly untraditional tale. The mix of brutality and humor should appeal to Elmore Leonard fans.
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