It might seem that Newcastle is well-trodden ground when it comes to crime fiction, but this highly charged debut from Howard Linskey proves there’s always room for a little more. Gritty is sometimes an overused word in the world of crime fiction, but applied to “The Drop”, it’s more than justified.
Going for the jugular and diving headfirst into the city’s seedy underworld, protagonist David Blake is no ordinary gangster. Rather than directly getting his hands dirty, Blake is the brains behind the operation, assisting the legendary Bobby Mahoney keep his stranglehold on the city and enjoying the lifestyle it brings. When a bag of Mahoney’s money goes missing, it’s not just a drop in his living standards Blake is staring at. He’s being held personally responsible for the mess. When his associate is found dead, Blake knows he’s out of his depth but is unable to stop himself tumbling into the middle of a vicious turf war. Learning there’s a rat within Mahoney’s organisation, and trying to avoid the attentions of an ambitious detective eager to make a name for himself, the plot thickens for Blake, not least when Mahoney’s attractive daughter making her feelings for him clear. It’s a struggle for him to stay one step ahead, and as his team drop like flies, it’s all he can do to stay alive.
Written with confidence and no little skill, “The Drop” is maybe most reminiscent of early Simon Kernick breakneck early novels. Linskey’s world of lap dancing clubs, pubs and clubs are vividly brought to life with economical style. It can’t be denied that he knows his way around Newcastle and understands it intimately, warts and all. The world of “The Drop” is dark and dangerous, but this is a razor-sharp debut and Linskey is sure to be at the forefront of Northern crime writing in 2011. A writer to keep an eye on.
“The Drop” is published April 2011. Nick Quantrill is the author of “Broken Dreams”.
This post was submitted by Nick Quantrill.