This week, I’m in Liverpool, where Britain is hosting this year’s Eurovision Song Contest on behalf of Ukraine, so I thought I’d amplify the mood by reading some Mersey Crime from my TBR pile.
Both books are set in Liverpool and were written by men who grew up here. Both of them came late to fiction writing. One was a teacher and one an academic before they turned their hands to writing about crime.
I’ve gone back to the first books in each of their crime series set in Liverpool. I’m hoping that I’ll fall in love with both series and will have at least another nine Liverpool-based crime novels in my future.
‘Blood Mist’ by Mark Roberts (2015)
This book starts with a few maps of Liverpool, which tells me that the action is going to take place against real places that I’m likely to recognise. That alone is enough to get my attention. This is probably just as well as I’m struggling to see Liverpool as a serial killer’s territory.
My main interest in the book though comes from Eve Clay herself. She’s not the typical kick-ass lead of a let’s-catch-this-serial-killer book. We meet her for the first time when she’s still a child in the Care system. How often do we usually get to know what the childhood of our fictional detectives were like I’m intrigued.
‘A Tapping At My Door’ by David Jackson (2016)
Again, the Liverpool setting is a hook for me to read this book but I’m less confident of enjoying it than ‘Blood Mist’. I think it’s quite hard to pull off the psychologically-damaged-renegade-cop thing. It’s been done a lot and I find it harder to imagine in England than in America. Renegades don’t usually achieve rank here. Cody is a Detective Sergeant leading a murder investigation. In real life, he’d have to follow protocol, use Holmes, work as a manager of a team and comply with the Police And Criminal Evidence Act. I know this is fiction but it needs to be plausible fiction or it defeats the point of setting it in Liverpool.
The reviews I’ve read are mostly very positive but I can see that this is going to be a dark, violent and sometimes gruesome tale. For that to work for me, the story needs to have something in it that makes the darkness more than gratuitous.
Still, if David Jackson does pull it off, I’ll become an avid fan.