Styled as a thriller from the legal world, CYANIDE GAMES introduces Peter Tanner - criminal defence barrister, widower, father. Very much one of the good guys, one of those that takes on a hell of a lot and seems to pull results together despite the odds.
There's some complicated set up underway in CYANIDE GAMES, so a greater part of the book is devoted to what feels like considerable framework construction. Which, given that Tanner is a lawyer, appears to end up involving a large amount of personal investigation, involvement and prodding of various bears with a variety of sticks. Once the action actually moves to a court room, Tanner's involvement - and skills - are considerably more believable and the action seems, oddly given it's mostly court room tactics, to actually heat up quite a bit.
Legal thrillers must be a tricky undertaking for an author - working what seems to be a mostly intellectual role into that of an all action hero. Believing the central character is capable of just about anything really helps with this reader's level of acceptance. Giving them a seriously good reason to be off on a lone wolf crusade is also vital, which meant that CYANIDE GAMES was a little on the hit and miss side for this reader. Perhaps the character of Tanner was too "out of the box" - he's ticking a lot of the good boxes, and doesn't seem to have much on the downside. Perhaps it's also that the sheer bulk of the set up meant that so much of the book read like a prelude to something really good - which ended up being too short lived to create balance.
Not to say that the series, on the whole, doesn't have potential. The court-room scenes showed more than enough promise of some very good tactical thinking - and game playing, which hopefully would be more to the fore now that the background is filled out. Definitely worth a read if you're a fan of legal thrillers.