The Friend

An intriguing moral thriller. What would you do if someone offered you the chance of revenge?

Book title

The Friend

Author

Charlie Gallagher

Standalone or series

Series (first in a new series)

First time reading this author?

Yes

Why I picked this

I liked the sound of the description. What would you do if someone gave you the chance to get revenge on someone who hurt the person you loved?

Review copy or purchase

Thank you to the author, publisher Avon Books and NetGalley UK for access to an e-book in advance of publication. This is an honest and voluntary review.

What it’s about

Fading local football star Danny Evans doesn’t know how to handle what’s happened to his 15-year-old daughter. She’s lying in hospital in an induced coma after trying to take her own life, and Danny can do nothing to solve the problem which caused his little girl to feel such despair. So, when a stranger approaches him to say he might be able to help. That he can do what the police never could and find answers, find someone to blame, it’s not long before Danny takes him up on his offer.

Review

A clever story which manages to hold multiple separate plotlines and character perspectives together. The pacing is spot on as we gradually unravel what’s happening, and understand who is pulling all the strings. As an introduction to DI Joel Norris and his new regional major case team, it’s an excellent start. DI Norris is a refreshing lead detective. He’s coming back from a breakdown, but is open about his mental wellbeing and not trying to hide that he had to take some time for himself behind any kind of boorish machismo. He’s clever, precise and committed and able to empathise with the victims and witnesses. A bit like Karin Slaughter’s GBA agent Will Trent, but with more self confidence and without the passive aggressive approach to his boss and relationships.

Joel’s female companions could do with a bit more fleshing out, as they are the weak point of this first book. His boss is a strong-willed female Superintendent who has developed the idea of this new squad and put Joel in charge. He doesn’t seem quite sure of her motivation, but also makes it clear that he can use persuasion and confidence to get around the bureaucratic barriers in place, so doesn’t need her shouting the odds as she’s offered to do. That leaves her as quite a flat one-dimensional character who will definitely need more work to be of value to future books.

Joel’s DS, and currently only actual member of Joel’s team, Lucy Rose is slightly better developed, but not by much. She joins the squad because an early victim is a cop and friend of Lucy’s. Lucy makes it quite clear that she thinks her friend is being let down by having  a senior investigating officer with no murder case experience in charge. She’s also clear that the assignment to the new squad is temporary. There are some good moments between Joel and Lucy which suggest they could work well together. But, this is mostly the Joel show to give him the opportunity to prove that he’s up for this new challenge, so Lucy’s ability to shine is limited. There’s only one witness with whom Lucy has a better rapport than Joel, but it’s Joel who immediately becomes invested in helping this witness deal with their domestic situation.

Hopefully the next books in the series will help develop these characters more and provide more of a sense of team. There’s definitely a solid foundation here for a new detective series and I’m looking forward to finding out where it goes next.

Rating

Rating: 4 out of 5.
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