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Monday 10 June 2019

‘55’ by James Delargy

Published by Simon & Schuster,
4 April 2019.
ISBN: 978-1-4711-7752-1 (PB)

A man stumbles into Chandler’s police station in the Australian outback town of Wilbrook, claiming to have been assaulted by a killer who’d told him he was number 55. Then the man he’s described as the killer is brought in, telling exactly the same story ... but who’s telling the truth?

This fast-moving novel moves between past and present. In the present, Chandler is trying to decide between smooth Gabriel, the first man, and angry Heath. He’s a busy cop in spite of his quiet beat, a believer in justice, and too often away from home to please his ex-wife, who’s about to sue for custody of their two children. His difficulties at the station are augmented when his former friend and colleague returns. Mitch, now an Inspector, is everyone’s nightmare boss, rigid and authoritarian, and he’s not going to make life easy for Chandler, partly because of their shared past, the search for a missing teenager which is described in the flashback sections. The plot moves quickly, with the possibility of guilt shifting between the two suspects, and the relationship between Mitch and Chandler ratcheting up the tension. The outback setting is well described, both sleepy Wilbrook where everyone knows everyone, and the unforgiving wilderness of the bush. The ending is ambiguous enough to leave an opening for a sequel.

A roller-coaster tale with sympathetic characters and a vividly drawn, unusual background.
Reviewer: Marsali Taylor

James Delargy was born and raised in Ireland and lived in South Africa, Australia and Scotland, before ending up in semi-rural England where he now lives. He incorporates this diverse knowledge of towns, cities, landscape and culture picked up on his travels into his writing. 55 is his first novel.

Marsali Taylor grew up near Edinburgh and came to Shetland as a newly-qualified teacher. She is currently a part-time teacher on Shetland's scenic west side, living with her husband and two Shetland ponies. Marsali is a qualified STGA tourist-guide who is fascinated by history, and has published plays in Shetland's distinctive dialect, as well as a history of women's suffrage in Shetland. She's also a keen sailor who enjoys exploring in her own 8m yacht, and an active member of her local drama group.  Marsali also does a regular monthly column for the Mystery People e-zine.

Click on the title to read a review of her recent book Death on a Shetland Isle

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