Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Book Review: 'Not Without Risk' by Pete Trewin

British author Pete Trewin has published three crime novels – TIME LAPSE, A FAIR WACK and no NOT WITHOUT RISK. Pete works as an economic development and regeneration consultant and witnessed corruption, information he decided to transform into his crime novels. Pete has lived for many years in Liverpool.

‘Mood’ is a word that comes to mind in the first lines of this fine engrossing novel – mood as atmosphere and as human response. ‘Martin Bennett turned a corner and the hospital came into view. He stopped for a moment to catch his breath. His mouth felt dry and sweat ran down his cheeks. The grey concrete used in the Sixties to construct the monstrosity of a building looked like the end result of some poisonous industrial process. It reminded him of the dumped slag that used to form mountains and cliffs down by the river at Widnes. He slung his satchel around his back and walked on past a huge hoarding showing the proposed new hospital. The blue sky in the artist’s sketch matched the cloudless sky above. A red strip about two feet wide stretched across the main pedestrian access. On it in big white letters: No smoking beyond this point. Outside the entrance, a crowd of smokers, some in hospital gowns and carrying drips, puffed away. He pushed through the crowd and went in. His hands trembled. Inside, he followed endless corridors. Fluorescent lights overhead, blue lino underfoot, pine-veneered doors leading off. Messages on the lino. Combinations of the words Commitment, Compassion, Communication, Care. He got a surprise when he reached the waiting room for the cardiac clinic. He’d expected the patients to be overweight and unhealthy, but everyone looked average. Like him. An old man, completely bald and looking more like a skeleton than a living person, sat slumped in a wheelchair. He seemed to be asleep but muttered quietly to himself. Martin recalled reading George Orwell’s essay ‘How the Poor Die’ one sunny afternoon in the Park Lane flat. Hospitals under the British National Health Service were much nicer places now compared to French ones in the Twenties, but even so, a fear of hospitals persisted in the subconscious. He’d not read the essay for years, but the passage in which the old Frenchman cries out ‘Je Pisse!’ just before he expires in agony in a crowded, squalid ward felt very real to him at this moment.’

Once into the arena the story unfolds rapidly and well populated with credible characters – as the synopsis provided speaks – ‘When Martin Bennett, the backroom brains in a regeneration company charged with bringing back Merseyside’s former prosperity, sees an ex-friend murdered on a hospital escalator and discovers that the body was too hastily cremated, he feels compelled to investigate. In order to discover the truth about the murder, he must navigate the Merseyside underworld peopled by bent solicitors and coppers, corrupt politicians and violent thugs. He forms an alliance with the mayor’s right hand woman, who is out of favour with her corrupt boss, and uncovers not only the surprising story behind the murder but also a conspiracy to carve up Merseyside’s green belt. The journey will not be without risk. For both of them.’

Yes, Merseyside exists (a county in North West England that includes Pete’s Liverpool) but it has never been painted like this before – a netherworld where gangsters, corrupt politicians and a collection of venal professionals connect and coalesce – and that is what makes Martin Bennett the champion of this tale. Raw, rich in flavor, and a very fine read, NOT WITHOUT RISK takes them and the result is a very fine fresh novel. Grady Harp, November 17
I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book.

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.

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