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Wednesday, 10 June 2015

‘Snatched from Home’ by Graham Smith

Published by Caffeine Nights,
March 2015.
ISBN: 978-1-907565-90-8 (PB)

After reading the first twenty pages or so, you could be forgiven for thinking Graham Smith’s debut Snatched from Home is an exactly-what-it-says-on-the-tin crime novel: the story of a kidnapping, and how the victims’ parents go about freeing them.

But read on and you’ll find first impressions can be wrong. It all changes when D I John Campbell and D I Harry Evans make their first appearance. This unlikely partnership quickly moves centre-stage, and though the kidnapping remains a significant thread, the main focus is on the two detectives and their developing relationship.

Campbell is a modern copper, young and ambitious, well versed in procedure and politically correct behaviour. Maverick doesn’t begin to describe Evans; he makes Life on Mars’s Gene Hunt look like an especially benign Dixon of Dock Green – but he has the best clear-up rate of any copper in the county.

Evans is days away from enforced retirement as leader of a small major crime squad made up of misfits whose attitude to doing things by the book is as cavalier as his own. He wants to go out with a bang, if he has to go out at all. Campbell is his replacement, attached to the team to get a feel for things.

The narrative follows Evans and Campbell around Cumbria as they work to solve a series of relatively minor crimes. It flips occasionally to the parents of the kidnapped children, and more often to the children themselves and their masked captors. Eventually the plot strands join up, and there’s the inevitable eleventh-hour showdown at breakneck pace – though to be fair, given Evans’s driving tactics, breakneck pace describes a lot of the book.

The author is clearly familiar with both the city of Carlisle and the Cumbrian countryside, and paints his characters in technicolor. The major crime squad consists of a nubile young woman with an unusual interview technique, an overweight computer geek and an ambitious young rookie who happens to be Asian. Among the villains, victims and supporting players are several strong and alluring women, while the men seem by and large to be also-rans.

If you enjoy a bit of fast-paced, highly coloured crash-bang-wallop, you’ll like this book.
Reviewer: Lynne Patrick

Graham Smith is married with a young son. A time served joiner he has built bridges, houses, dug drains and slated roofs to make ends meet. For the last eleven years he has been manager of a busy hotel and wedding venue near Gretna Green, Scotland. An avid fan of crime fiction since being given one of Enid Blyton's Famous Five books at the age of eight, he has also been a regular reviewer for the well-respected review site for over two years.

Lynne Patrick has been a writer ever since she could pick up a pen, and has enjoyed success with short stories, reviews and feature journalism, but never, alas, with a novel. She crossed to the dark side to become a publisher for a few years, and is proud to have launched several careers which are now burgeoning. She lives on the edge of rural Derbyshire in a house groaning with books, about half of them crime fiction.

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