Thoroughly modern murder and mayhem.
Tidy has created a modern Detective Inspector who jogs and collects books – Romney – and his female side-kick named Sergeant Marsh. They solve crimes. Did she jump? Or was she pushed?
Tidy calls himself a “South Coast Crime Writer” “celebrating channel noir and other crime writing of the South Coast of England” (see his blog for further details). Rope Enough is also described as a “police procedural.”
Rope Enough is the first of its kind this reviewer has read. After one recovers from the reprehensible nature of the crimes, one discovers that the writing is very good, a pleasant surprise. This novel moves along at a brisk pace, with a few red herrings and unexpected twists and turns of plot. True to his pen name, the author has “tidied” most of the loose ends by the last page.
Romney manages to solve three crimes, kindle a romance with a younger woman, and trap a psychopath by trickery, tile a shower and that’s just before breakfast. We jest. This Detective is human, interesting and has some depth.
“Run, bath, fix of coffee, dress in his weekend town clothes and head into Dover for a good breakfast before scouring the charity shops and the few second hand bookshops for some delight waiting to be discovered.”
Of jogging, the author tells us: “He felt sometimes that the activity created a state of mind and equilibrium in which he could think more deeply and more creatively than at any other time.”
“He took a lungful of clean bracing sea air, stepped carefully over the stile in the fence and began jogging after them, all traces of his earlier limp gone.”
The “bad guys” are really bad and the cops polite. They take time for tea and biscuits, discuss crime novels, and seem to have compassion for the victims and their families. DS Marsh reads crime novels, too. There is an interesting variety of developed characters.
‘Not at all. You know what they say about coppers who read detective novels?’ Marsh didn’t, but didn’t like to say so, so she sipped her drink. ‘Don’t tell anyone down the nick, but I’m a big fan of the genre myself.’ ‘Really?’ ‘Absolutely. Doyle, Christie, Dibdin, Hill, James, Rendell, Wingfield, Harvey. There are some fine American practitioners. Chandler, MacDonald, and Elmore Leonard takes some beating. Some of the continental crime writers are worth getting to know, too, although I’m not so keen on the rash of Scandinavian stuff that seems so popular at the moment. But that might be as much to do with the translations as the original writing. And then you’ve got the older classics on both sides of the pond, of course.’
Despite the fact that I usually review literary fiction, I enjoyed this book very much.
The structure is good, the writing smart, the atmosphere wonderfully dreary, and there is social commentary about the status of the Kosovans and immigrants in the modern UK.
“In a town that had seen better days economically, for local residents who were struggling with the expense of life and lack of work, it was widely viewed as adding insult to injury as they had watched a steady stream of eastern European refugees trickle into their town…”
This book has social fabric and substance.