Source: Review copy
Publication: 5th April 2018 from Fahrenheit Press
Dan Groves is a television reporter newly assigned to the crime beat and not at all happy about it.
Dan knows next nothing about police work or how to report on it, so when he persuades Detective Chief Inspector Adam Breen to allow him to shadow a high-profile murder inquiry it seems like the perfect solution. Sadly for Dan it soon becomes clear some members of the police force have no intention of playing nice with the new boy.
With his first case Dan is dropped in at the deep-end. A man is killed in a lay-by with a blast through the heart from a shotgun. The victim is notorious local businessman Edward Bray, a man with so many enemies there are almost too many suspects for the police to eliminate.
As tensions rise Dan comes close to being thrown off the case until the detectives realise that far from being a liability, Dan might actually be the key to tempting the murderer into a trap.
I chose to review this book because I know a bit about local crime reporting for TV, having worked for a well-known broadcaster in the local and regional broadcasting sphere.
I did enjoy the idea that a broadcaster would take a perfectly happy, slightly relaxed environment correspondent and take him decidedly out of his comfort zone and into the murky and extremely busy world of crime reporting. I don’t know any news editors who would have gone to quite the lengths that Dan’s did to make sure he took the job, but perhaps my experience is limited!
Assigned to a crime job because of illness and holidays, Dan gives a good account of himself and is then inveigled into taking the vacant position on a full time basis. He’s not thrilled and it’s not an area he knows much about, but he is prepared to give it a go.
So when local businessman Edward Bray is murdered, shotgun to the chest, in murky circumstances, Dan decides he’ll get his story by cosying up to Detective Chief Inspector Adam Breen on the basis that he has to learn the ropes somehow.
The two are quite different characters. Breen is taciturn, irascible and not given to over sharing. Dan is full of ideas and keen to learn, though he is not the first to want to put himself in danger. Added to that, the rest of the force isn’t exactly thrilled at having a reporter in their midst and Dan has to learn to suck up a lot of ribbing.
As the story develops and the two men get to know each other better, a decent relationship develops between them which helps in the solving of the case. Dan’s reporting skills are helpful, especially with witnesses where he is intuitively empathetic and the pair are finally able to bounce ideas off each other as well as getting to know a bit more about each other’s personal lives.
As the foundation for a series, this makes perfect sense.
The investigation progresses and throws up a satisfying number of suspects; anyone of whom could have committed the crime. Bray was a man not much liked by anyone except, unfathomably, his secretary. But as the suspects’ alibis stand up, it’s hard to see how one of them could have done the deed, never mind why, but the solution is ingenious and I didn’t see it coming.
Hall has come up with a strong and well executed plot. His writing is straightforward and his pace well measured. I could have used some more building and development of the female characters in this book. At the moment, the chaps are pretty much the only ones really fleshed out.
Nonetheless, this is a good and enjoyable read and a fine start to the series.
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About Simon Hall
Simon Hall is an author and journalist.
He has been a broadcaster for twenty five years, mostly as a BBC Television and Radio News Correspondent, covering some of the biggest stories Britain has seen.
His books – the TV Detective series – are about a television reporter who covers crimes and gets so involved in the cases he helps the police to solve them. Seven have been published.
Simon has also contributed articles and short stories to a range of newspapers and magazines, written plays, and even a pantomime.
Alongside his novels and stories, Simon is a tutor in media skills and creative writing, teaching at popular Writers’ Summer Schools such as Swanwick and Winchester, on cruise ships and overseas.
Simon has also become sought after as a speaker, appearing at a variety of prestigious literary festivals. His talks combine an insight into his writing work, along with some extraordinary anecdotes from the life of a television reporter, including the now notorious story of ‘What to do when you really need a dead otter’.
Now 49 years old, he began a broadcasting career as a DJ on the radio and in nightclubs, then moved into radio and TV news. He worked in Europe, London, Ireland, and the south west of England, before settling in Cambridge.
Simon is married to Jess, Director of Libraries at the University of Cambridge, and has an adopted daughter, Niamh. She’s an army officer, which makes her father both very proud and very nervous.
Simon lectures on careers in the media at Cambridge University, and in schools and colleges. Amongst his proudest achievements, he includes the number of young people he has helped into jobs in broadcasting, and aspiring writers into publication.
As for his likes, Simon lists beer – he judges at real ale festivals – cycling the countryside, solving cryptic crosswords, composing curious Tweets (find him @thetvdetective ) and studying pop lyrics.
For more on Simon, see his website – www.thetvdetective.com
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