Brilliantly written, witty roller-coaster detective ride.
This is the second of Dominic Piper’s Beckett novels, and the third and last that I read. I’m not entirely sure why I didn’t read them in publishing order, but the fact is that there’s nothing to stop you picking up any of these stories at random, and diving right in to Daniel Beckett’s London.
Daniel Beckett is as intimately familiar with the streets of London as Sherlock Holmes, without the cerebral aloofness; as hard-boiled as Philip Marlowe, without the nihilism; and even more successful with the ladies than James Bond, without the casual indifference.
Like Kiss Me When I’m Dead and Femme Fatale, Death is the New Black is a dazzling detective thriller. The mystery is engrossing, from the first pages, the villains are truly evil, without being cartoonish, and the stories are bursting with truly memorable characters.
None more so than Beckett himself. Beckett is an absorbing enigma: only the most teasing hints of his background are ever given, but he is a lethal man of action, with some truly unique skills and acquaintances. Not least his rake’s progress through a bewitching gallery of ladies.
But, even though Beckett charms and beds his way through an astonishing assortment of women in the course of solving each case, he is never a repellent lothario. He genuinely appreciates each and every one for their unique qualities, be they a coquettish office girl, a voluptuous, Rubenesque siren, or a well-heeled cougar.
As with all the Beckett stories, Death is the New Black grabs the reader from the first page, and doesn’t let go. The fight scenes are brutally realistic, and the car chase is one of the most thrilling action sequences I’ve read for a long time. Even more impressive is that the narrative deftly weaves a clever seduction repartee with his female co-driver throughout the vehicular mayhem.
These are some of the best new detective fiction you’ll find. Pick any of them, and start reading. A day or so later, you’ll be reading the others.
The only fault I have with these is that there are only three of them.