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  • Perfect crime novella

    At First Glance, by Paul Gitsham, is a novella set in his DCI Warren Jones series. I find it always interesting when authors try themselves at the art of the novella, between installments of their respective series. Lee Child does it with Jack Reacher. Jonathan Maberry also does it with Joe Ledger. In the afterword to Different Seasons, published in 1982, Stephen King described the difficulty in getting publishers to accept novellas. They were atypical and uncommon. Not short stories, and not novels either. He likened the world of novellas as an anarchy-ridden literary banana republic, and was grateful for having been able to publish a book of them. He has another such book coming out soon, If It Bleeds. This situation obviously changed with the advent of e-books, and Stephen King himself wrote the excellent Ur, a Dark Tower linked novella, to celebrate Amazon’s Kindle launch. HQ digital, a division of Harper & Collins, is one of those publishers cultivating the art of the novella. And, Paul Gitsham excels at it. At First Glance is the fourth one in his DCI Warren Jones series. It takes place between the fifth and sixth full length novels featuring the character. It begins with the rather routine murder of a drug dealer in his car, stationed at his usual corner. The perp is quickly found at his house, not far from the crime scene, almost overdosed on pills and alcohol. But, of course, this not being a short story, the case is more complex than it appears. The shorter length of the story is not detrimental to the characters. Warren Jones is depicted as a no-nonsense DCI, keeping a watchful eye on his team, having recently welcomed new detectives, keeping them at high standards, and adamant in doing everything by the book. As such, and however surprising it might be, this novella can serve as a good jumping on point for new readers, allowing us to get acquainted with DCI Jones and his team, while delivering a fast paced and solid police procedural. Each chapter narrates a day in the investigation, and Paul Gitsham even manages to cram a few unexpected twists in the ninth and final one. At First Glance is a quick and satisfying read, and certainly made me want to delve further in the DCI Warren Jones series. An except of the next novel is provided in the backpages. Thanks to Netgalley and HQ Digital for the ARC provided in exchange for this unbiased review.

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  • Never too late to pick up a new series

    Here is an author I’ve been meaning to read for sometime; no excuses I own a number of his books. This is number 9 in this series. 5 novels and 4 novellas. My problem is I like to read books in the chronological order they are published; these in between shorter books do however allow a way in for a new reader like me. These in between books provide a fix for fans before the next novel is out. Act as a trailer for the next instalment while keeping the profile up and going. It is the reason ebooks became popular for me as this format allows this flexibility. So this a shot to nothing. A free hit; a punt if you like. It introduces an author and his successful crime series. If like me you like what you read we can go down the snake; go straight to the start and pick up book 1 in the certain knowledge we’ll like that book too. (8 books lie in wait for me!) At First Glance is also a transitional piece as it allows Gitsham to introduce new members of the detective team. Devoid of a lot of packing and packaging it is a pure story told in the space of a few days. No padding the only writing responds to the case at hand. This is a strong police procedural with little description, background story or recapping. It is a perfect vehicle to test out this writer and these characters. A young drug dealer; newly crowned prince of his manor wants to be a key player. When he is murdered it appears other people have designs on his territory and stash. A methodical investigation follows. This demonstrates the author’s ease and writing skill and makes you fully engrossed into the fictional town created in Middlesbury. It may be a made up location but it is a gritty story with some good set piece action and a tight and twisting plot. Read it because your already a fan or try it and then like me you’ll want to read more.

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