Title – The Crooked Beat
Author – Nick Quantrill
Published – September 2013
Genre – Crime fiction
Set in Hull this is the third book featuring Joe Geraghty who is on the brink of becoming an ex private detective. The story opens with a simple enough situation, Geraghty’s brother has made the mistake of trying to earn a little extra money by letting someone store illegal cigarettes in a lock- up, and they’ve been stolen. He knows that whoever arranged for them to be imported will be keen to see their return, and they aren’t likely to be particularly patient or reasonable. As the story unfolds it becomes clear that he may need to draw on the past allegiances of some of the characters involved, however unpalatable that might be.
One of the main premises of the book is the importance of family and the lengths people will go to to protect their family. In common with many leading characters in crime fiction Geraghty is something of a loner, his wife having died a few years previously. Although the circumstances do have a relevance in the story he isn’t quite the maudlin character that being a widower suggests. In fact he is a likeable, pragmatic guy trying to make the best of the situations in which he finds himself. He manages to get beaten up a few times but the body count and gore in the book are unusually low. The only warning might be the proliferation of one particular swearword. Told in the main from Geraghty’s point of view there just a few brief scenes from the past which feature some of the other characters and provide a glimpse into the background of the story for the reader.
I’m particularly interested in the use of Hull as the setting for fiction as I was born there. In fact the way Quantrill spoke about the city suited me down to the ground. As the events moved around Hull the descriptions from Geraghty’s point of view were certainly something I do a lot, and that was to reminisce about what has changed. So finding out what has happened to the old Hull KR ground and other sites around the city was pretty useful to me! If I have a grumble, it would be that despite this the city doesn’t quite come to life for me, there could be more of the sights, sounds and smells, but that may be as much to do with the author’s quite spare style of writing as anything else.
This is quite a small story rather than an epic one with a limited cast of characters and set mostly in one location (although there is a brief trip to Goole!). It’s well written by an author drawing on his local and sporting knowledge to bring this story to life.
I read a review copy of this book.
Score – 4/5