Source: Review copy
Publication: 13 May from Raven Books
My thanks to Bloomsbury Raven for an early copy for review
When the police are called to the report of a late-night shooting, they expect it to be drugs or gang-related. They don’t expect to find a young student executed on his way home.
Jordan Radley was an aspiring journalist: hard working, well-liked, dedicated. His first major story – looking at the fallout following the closure of a major local factory – had run recently and looked to be the first step in his longed-for career. Even after the story ran, Jordan continued to stay in contact with those he interviewed: he was on his way back from their social club the night he was murdered.
But as the detectives quickly discover, not only was Jordan killed, but those responsible also broke into his house, taking his laptop and notes. What was he researching that might have led to his death? And can this really be linked to another case – long ruled an accident – in the same area?
Or are the police being forced to prioritise those with the best connections rather than the ones that most need their help?
Eva Dolan is one of my must read authors and One Half Truth, the latest in her Dushan Zigic and Mel Ferreira series, is a great read. What marks Dolan out is the way that she focuses on the social and economic consequences of societal change and Government decision making, including in this case Brexit, and uses this to underline some of the causes of crime as well as the repercussions from it.
That may not sound thrilling, but is is absolutely engrossing as she highlights the impact of a town driven to food banks where industry is almost non-existent, housing is unaffordable and the only jobs available are stacking shelves or zero hours contracts that offer no hope of savings or stability.
Even the police are not immune, with stations closing and staff cuts biting hard.
The Greenaway Factory Club is a forgotten remnant of the factory that used to employ skilled craftsmen. Now those men are on the scrapheap, gathering together in the dingy club like wraiths after the feast, trying to scrape enough money together for a pint. Not the kind of place you’d expect to find a young student. But 21 year old Jordan Radley had been spending time there. So is that why he was shot in the back on his way home one dark evening?
Jordan was determined to become a journalist and had recently had his first article published in the Big Issue – on men’s mental health, which talked about the pressures some of the men at the club had experienced after the factory closed. Jordan was also working one day a week at the local paper. Whoever killed him also took his computer, phone and notebook.
Zigic and Ferreira start to track down the stories that Jordan was working on and find that there are several leads. One thing that is common to all three is the fact that cutting corners is never far away. Jordan had been speaking to a social care worker who is not only fearful of losing her job, but lays out clearly how much the private sector expects from these workers and how little they receive in return.
Jordan had also been scoping out the scene of a helicopter crash which had already been ruled accidental. It killed the boss of the factory that was Greenaways Engineering. Then there’s the site of Greenaway’s old factory itself. It’s now being developed into executive apartments by the Docherty construction company – Mel Ferreira had almost bought one, but couldn’t afford the mortgage. Is there something dodgy going on there that got Jordan killed?
Zigic and his team follow all the leads they have and find that there are links to all of them with Greenaway engineering. What they uncover is a web of deceit, corruption, veniality and the power of business to wield influence even on those who should be incorruptible.
It’s not a new story, but Dolan shows us how the tentacles of corruption spread across a city until they are so intertwined it’s nigh on impossible to cut them off at the roots without taking the town with them.
Against this backdrop the team have their work cut out for them if they are to achieve justice for Jordan and more than once Ferreira has to stop herself from taking action that would get her into trouble. Her sense of injustice is running high, slightly fuelled by the pressures on her partner Rob Weller, who has been consigned to desk duty as a punishment for past actions and it is really getting to him. Chief Superintendent Riggott, ever keen to please his political superiors, helps fuel her anger.
Neither is she happy that she has had to go through myriad hoops to gain her ‘settled status’ after 20 years in this country and a working life serving the community in the police force. Zigic remains unflappable, but Mel is very clearly unsettled and unhappy with being stymied and that makes her want to take everyone down in their search for Jordan’s killer.
Verdict: One Half Truth is a slow burn of a book but the better for it as we gain a clear and detailed picture of how all the pieces of this puzzle fit together and see the overall picture of the impact that the closure of one factory can have on a community. Dolan has written a gritty, complex case with plenty of nice misdirection and false trails, but what this book has at its heart is compassion and a determination to shine a light on the way things are done in our country – and it’s not pretty.
Eva Dolan was shortlisted for the CWA Dagger for unpublished authors when only a teenager. The five novels in her Zigic and Ferreira series have been published to widespread critical acclaim: Tell No Tales and After You Die were shortlisted for the Theakston’s Crime Novel of the Year Award and After You Die was also longlisted for the CWA Gold Dagger. She lives in Cambridge.