Every now and then it does a dedicated crime reader's heart good to read something that proves that there's nothing better than not taking yourself too seriously. And if there's ever a fictional character that can't afford to take himself too seriously it is crime reporter Laurie Lane. His wife has walked out on him (he did eventually twig she wasn't there), his daughter's remained at home, somewhat indulgent but equally pointed in her opinions of her father. At the newspaper he's being investigated for fiddling his expenses, but there's a distinct smell about that. Especially as his editor seems to be pushing him out of the job because he's not multi-media savvy enough (aka getting too old). When, for some reason, Charlie Hook decides that Lane is just the person to write his autobiography, Lane's not too sure whether he should be disappointed or relieved when somebody shoots Hook.
In an effort to save his job, and to prove the rumours he's being fed are part of his sharp, up-to-date reporting contacts, Lane must find a missing Russian mafiosi, prove who killed Hook, write the scoop, win the pub trivia quiz, and sort out what the attractive young picture editor's real intentions are. Preferably quickly.
Needless to say IF IT BLEEDS is a lot more fun than you'd think the shooting murder of an aging London gangster by Russian mafiosi figures would be. But then it's also not a good idea to believe everything you read in the paper (or on a book's blurb). Okay, so the plot takes somewhat of a secondary role to the pub trivia, deliberate bad jokes, and newsroom shenanigans, but the investigation is there. The tone of the book seems to match perfectly with what you'd expect from an aging newspaper reporter, somewhat bewildered by the way his life has gone, but determined to keep looking until something recognisable pops up.
Often low key, dry and wonderfully observant, IF IT BLEEDS was good fun, with a sneaking suspicion that snippets from the life of an old crime desk warrior were all too real.