Review - LONG WAY HOME, Eva Dolan
LONG WAY HOME was released in 2014 and quickly garnered a lot of very positive comments. At which point it was placed on my reading list and then never quite nudged it's way to the top. Nothing to do with it at all, rather a propensity to be useless at prioritising books and the sudden explosion in splendid reading opportunities.
But the second book in the series, TELL NO TALES was provided as a review opportunity and it seemed a pity not to sneak in the first as a lead in. Oh what a good decision that turned out to be. Aside from the pressure to read the second one getting so extreme I might have to pull a hamstring or invent something that makes me take to the couch to read non-stop for a week.
If we take it as a given that crime fiction, at its best, looks at the society in which it is written and plucks out things that need looking at, then LONG WAY HOME is a stellar example of that. The question of immigration and integration is one that is taxing a number of communities these days (here no less than others), and the idea of the requirement for a Hate Crimes Unit makes sense, as does the wide-ranging remit they are presented with. Members of that unit being multi-racial and multi-lingual as well also makes sense, as does the odd feeling that investigating acts against members of your own community, or people with a similar background that must ensue.
All of this messaging though is built into a solid plot within a believable and very strong police procedural. The main characters are stand-out, even the victim is given life and vitality as his background is combed over. The writing is crisp, clear, deft and beautifully executed. The dialogue is spot on, the descriptions of place, people, feelings and circumstances assured and very readable. To the point where this reader should be excused for a bit of late night googling as flagging this as a debut novel felt like a typo.
Leaning towards hard-boiled in stylings and subject matter, Dolan has created a team of investigator's and a scenario for them to work in that really feels like it's got legs. Certainly hope so. Now can well understand the very positive comments about this book. The second book in this series is now calling very loudly.
A man is burnt alive in a suburban garden shed.
DI Zigic and DS Ferreira are called in from the Peterborough Hate Crimes Unit to investigate the murder. Their victim is quickly identified as a migrant worker and a man several people might have had good reason to see dead. A convicted arsonist and member of a far-right movement has just been released from prison, while witnesses claim to have seen the dead man fighting with one of the town's most prominent slum landlords.
Zigic and Ferreira know all too well the problems that come with dealing with a community that has more reason than most not to trust the police, but when another migrant worker is attacked, tensions rapidly begin to rise as they search for their killer.