- May 9th 2002
- 240 pages
- B-format paperback
‘The reason I don’t have much of a track record is because the people who come to me don’t have any money.’
‘Whatever the rates, I have the money.’
‘So what’s the job?’
‘The biggest thing you’ve ever snooped into.’
A murdered prostitute: Des McGinlay’s first big case should be easy to resolve. But he’s struggling to fend off the ‘big wallow’ – desperate to pull his life together as he picks through the wreckage of others’. Vin, who loved her, is being set up as the fall guy for the murder. Bertha, the grieving mother, wants Des for a lucrative future. And as a photographer, a dopehead and a right-wing politician are sucked into the vortex, the lowlife sharks are circling. Bright-hearted Pearl offers Des a glimmer of hard-won redemption, but at street and canal level, down in the pubs and blues parties no one is playing by the rules.
This masterly noir debut resonates with the tense atmosphere of corruption and betrayal of Birmingham’s underworld.
Dalton evokes a strong empathy for the downtrodden, taking pride of place among British crime writing’s dirty realists. The slick tale unfolds like a whiplash, with thin glimmers of redemption shining out … A powerful new voice
— Maxim Jakubowski, Guardian
Dirty realism just got dirtier and more real. John Dalton’s debut grips you around the throat from the start and doesn’t let go. It’s like Derek Raymond lost his way at Hanger Lane and ended up, via the M40, in Birmingham
— Nicholas Royle