Monday, November 08, 2021

66. The Gotland Deal by N.J. Crisp

I found this while vacationing in the lovely and interesting Eastern Townships.  As all Canadians learn, this is where the United Empire Loyalists moved to after the American revolution and thus it has a multi-generational anglophone community.  I was hoping this history would lead to lots of excellent english language used bookstores, but alas I was only able to find one:  Black Cat Books in Lennoxville.  I took a daytrip down there and found it to be a really lovely little store with a nice selection, though not the treasure trove of mid-20th century genre fiction of which I had dreamed.  I still found a few little gems, including this one which I picked up purely on the lovely Penguin design.

It's a solid little thriller, with a setup that I particularily enjoy: the competent tough working urban detective who gets mixed up in politics and espionage that is supposedly out of his league.  I realize now there is a class element here as well, along with the classic appeal of the underdog story.  Sidney Kenyon is the said detective and though definitely on the side of order, also demonstrates a certain human sympathy for the criminals he catches.  The book begins with a seemingly open and closed murder case of a pimp (called a "ponce" here) who murders his girlfriend when he finds out she was selling her services on the side.  This is followed up by an irritating call where Kenyon has to humour an attractive, educate woman who is convinced she is being followed and that somebody broke into her nice apartment to search it.  Kenyon is very cynical at first, but is also attracted to her.  So against his better judgement, he starts digging and of course things get interesting.

It's written in a direct and economic style and keeps moving forward.  Near the end, when we start to get the big picture, it expands into large-scale international politics to a point that was a bit fantastical to me compared to the street-level investigation that went on before.  It never delivered the final bang of the working class cop taking it to the fancy boys at higher-level agencies.  Nevertheless, it was a solid, enjoyable read.

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