This is my first experience with the writing of Simon Kernick. Overall I enjoyed his writing style and method of storytelling. In this, his first installment in the Dennis Milne series, I wasn’t blown away by an single aspect of the novel but steady writing, plotting and an interesting twist to the regular police procedural kept me interested.
Dennis Milne is what some might call a dirty cop. This is not to say he is a bad cop. He is quite good at his job. He puts away the bad guys, keeps the city safe and from time to time pockets a little extra money when drugs mysteriously disappear from lockup. Dennis finds himself in over his head when his latest side job, a contracted murder, does not go quite as planned. After killing three people he has been told were committing dirty deeds, Dennis finds himself in a web of lies, backstabbing all of which might result in his own death.
Dennis is the real draw of this story. I have read many different crime novels and Dennis Milne stands out as one of the most unique. By most standards, he is a criminal. He makes money selling confiscated drugs and is willing to kill a criminal that he feels will evade justice. He is more than just a bad guy. He a bad guy with a code. Whether or not you agree with his code, he is able to justify his actions and live with himself. When things begin to fall off the rails, I found myself rooting for the guy. A relatable bad guy. What I think make you want to root for him is that despite his criminal nature, he is engaged in solving other crime. Although his own misdeeds are causing his world to crash around him, he refuses to give up his investigation. Dennis Milne is a well drawn character.
The plot is multilayered. Dennis must balance his own troubles with an ongoing investigation into the grisly deaths of several young prostitutes. While most of the force is content to accept the easiest resolution to the matter, Dennis follows the leads no one wants explored. The combination of the two storylines is well plotted and entertaining. The story is a plus.
There were a few sections of the novel that lagged. While Dennis Milne was well drawn, the supporting cast was less so. I found much of the supporting cast to be stereotypical and no one character matched the colour and excitement of Dennis Milne.
Overall, this was an exciting book with an interesting hook. This book really could stand alone. Given the ending, I am not sure how the author extends the series. Regardless, I will be reading the next one.
If You Liked…
Dennis Mile really is an anti-hero. Fans of such characters will enjoy this one. If you have read and enjoyed (or in my case did not enjoy) the classic [book:The Butcher’s Boy|82966], you will find lots to like here without the feeling that the story is aged.