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Sunday 30 January 2022

‘Dead End Street’ by Trevor Wood

Published by Quercus,
20 January 2022.
ISBN: 978-1-52941-478-3 (HB)

Jimmy Mullen earned the moniker Sherlock Homeless in the first two books in this highly original trilogy, but a few years on the description doesn’t really apply any more – the Homeless part, that is. With the help of some useful and sympathetic friends, and in no small part due to how solving mysteries has changed the way people look at him, Jimmy has got his life together. He has a job helping to run a hostel, a flat which goes with the job, and he’s reconnected with the daughter he thought he would never see again.

But he hasn’t lost touch with the friends he made in his homeless days; and crime-solving seems to dog his footsteps whether he wants it to or not. Mostly he doesn’t, but when his old mate Gadge, one of the three musketeers of the streets of Newcastle, finds himself charged with a murder he didn’t do and the police aren’t listening, Jimmy is the only person he trusts to dig out the truth.

In book one we learned something of Jimmy’s own background, where he came from and how he ended up on the streets. In book two it was the turn of Deano, the youngest of the trio. Now in Dead End Street we catch a glimpse of Gadge’s past, and even learn where he picked up his nickname, and why he knows so much about modern technology.

Some familiar characters are back: Andy Burns, the policeman who owes Jimmy a favour or six; Sandy his abrasive but down-to-earth social worker; Aoife the friendly librarian. Newcomers include Charlie Gascoigne, a sparky and unconventional solicitor; Bev, Jimmy’s acid-tongued ex-wife; Hardass Harding, Sandy’s belligerent stand-in when she goes on the sick list. A host of bad guys too, of course, the baddest of all being Stevie Connors, gang leader and out-and-out villain in every way.

We get to revisit the Pit Stop, where Newcastle’s homeless people gather to be fed and given the help they need. And the many faces of Newcastle itself, including a very spooky graveyard, are more than just a background for the narrative.

Will Jimmy prove Gadge’s innocence? Will he bring down the bad guys who are beating up Newcastle’s homeless people; will he keep his life on track? Well, what do you think?

This is the last of Trevor Wood’s trilogy about the homeless community; a pity, but it’s easy to understand why. I shall miss Jimmy and his cronies, but there’s always Wood’s next unlikely hero to look forward to.

Reviewer: Lynne Patrick

Trevor Wood has lived in Newcastle for 25 years and considers himself an adopted Geordie, though he still can't speak the language. He's a successful playwright who has also worked as a journalist and spin-doctor for the City Council. Prior to that he served in the Royal Navy for 16 years joining, presciently, as a Writer. Trevor holds an MA in Creative Writing (Crime Fiction) from UEA. His first novel, The Man on the Street, which is set in his home city, was published by Quercus 19 March 2020, winning the The CWA John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger 2020.

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 in Oxfordshire in a house groaning with books, about half of them crime fiction.

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