Another day, another 99p special. I thought this might be all right, given that this is not Mayo’s first book. I’ve read one of his YA series Itch before (thought it might be okay for the school reading list, though it was too long to teach with), and the thing about this is it feels like a YA novel, but with swears.
Mr Mayo certainly has a distinctive style, which is interesting. If you know him from the radio, you can hear his voice as you read, his slightly forced delivery, which works well when he’s sparring with Kermode or Matt Williams, but keeps throwing you out of the narrative here.
It’s a bold set up: there are seven murders in the first chapter, which then launches into a race against time investigation, as a journalist works with colleagues in the face of a sceptical police force to uncover those responsible. The plot rockets along, quickly enough that you skip over the improbabilities — mostly. But then you keep stumbling face first into the dialogue, which is clunky and awful. People don’t speak like this, even in books, and they certainly don’t tell each other things as straightforwardly as this.
Occasionally, we get a point of view shift to someone who is with the bad guys, and some of the speechifying here is truly terrible.
The plot rockets along, as I said, but then it gets to its action-packed climax, and a final twist which is twisty, but very silly and not at all earned. Robert Harris can just about get away with a silly twist, but not Mayo.
But don’t listen to me, what do I know? This has been a big seller, and it has a quote from Lee Child on the front.