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Thursday 23 February 2017

‘Enough Rope’ by Barbara Nadel

Published by Quercus,
7 July2016.
ISBN: 978 1 84866 426 5(PB)

This is the 4th in the Hakim and Arnold series, featuring private investigator Lee Arnold, ex-soldier, ex-policeman, and his partner, the widow Mumtaz Hakim. Like all the stories in this series, the narrative has several strands, some of which come together, others not. One strand which began in the first Hakim and Arnold title, A Private Business, before the action in that story began, is the murder of Mumtaz’s estranged no-good husband Ahmet Hakim. Ahmet had borrowed a great deal of money from the local crime family, the Sheikhs, and had not repaid it so, seeing the debt as a matter of honour, Naz, a member of the Sheikh family, had killed him. Mumtaz had been present at the killing and, not sorry to see her husband die after his repeated sexual and physical abuse of herself and Shazia, his daughter by his first marriage, had not called for help. The Sheikh family are now extracting payment several times over from Mumtaz and threatening that non-payment will lead to Shazia being informed of her stepmother’s role in her father’s death. They also want Mumtaz to let them know of any police investigation which might involve their criminal activities. Naz is now stalking Shazia and abusing her for not covering her hair although he himself has sex with women. At the same time Mumtaz has her own casework in particular that involving Alison Darrah-Duncan who has just learnt that she has the inheritable disease Huntington’s Chorea. Although it has not been passed on to her son Charlie, Alison wants to know from whom in her own family it came. But she was abandoned when a tiny baby and her own ancestry is unknown. Would the nuns at the Chiswick convent who first took her in know? But they are all dead except for one and she is now dying.

Meanwhile Lee has been employed by his former boss Superintendent Paul Venus whose son Harry has been kidnapped with threats that if Venus calls in the police Harry will die. Venus has borrowed money from elderly East End gangster Brian Green, but the kidnappers are demanding yet more and there’s still no sign of Harry. Paul and his ex-wife Tina Wilton become ever more desperate and Lee insists that his old friend and occasional sex partner Detective Inspector Vi Collins and Detective Tony Bracci be unofficially involved. Then it transpires that Harry Venus and Charlie Darrah-Duncan were at the same public school near Henley-on-Thames and along with two other boys formed a sort of Gang of Four, all now based somewhere in Lee’s neck of the woods. So there is a connection . .  .

I really enjoyed this story as I have all the author’s Hakim and Arnold stories (all of which are so far reviewed by Mystery People). There is an absolute whirligig of characters, many of them, but not all, malefactors . . . Bangladeshi, Pakistani, Hindu, old-fashioned East End gangsters, posh boys playing at being hipsters, Polish, even Russians (behind the scenes but currently the go-to bad guys). And although some of the story lines are satisfactorily concluded, not all are and it is clear that those are ‘to be concluded.’ And something which particularly recommended itself to me in this story is that some scenes are set in Chiswick where I now live, and others in Henley where I lived when a child and a teenager. Highly recommended.
Reviewer: Radmila May

Barbara Nadel was born in the East End of London. She rained as an actress, and used to work in mental health services. She now writes full time and has been a visitor to Turkey for over twenty years. She received the Crime Writers' Association Silver Dagger for her novel Deadly Web.

Radmila May was born in the U.S. but has lived in the U.K. since she was seven apart from seven years in The Hague. She read law at university but did not go into practice. Instead she worked for many years for a firm of law publishers and still does occasional work for them including taking part in a substantial revision and updating of her late husband’s legal practitioners’ work on Criminal Evidence published late 2015. She has also contributed short stories with a distinctly criminal flavour to two of the Oxford Stories anthologies published by Oxpens Press – a third story is to be published shortly in another Oxford Stories anthology – and is now concentrating on her own writing.

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