Beachdaze, T.W. Lawless
Book six in the Peter Clancy series, set in the world of investigative journalism, BEACHDAZE sees Peter back in Australia, out of the day-to-day newspaper game and up to his elbows in neighbourhood dispute from the moment he sets foot in his new home.
Readers of the earlier books in the series will find the idea that Clancy has given up the high-octane world of investigative journalism in swinging London slightly surprising. He got there via an interesting route, starting out his reporting days on the old Truth newspaper in Melbourne, Australia (denizens of the state of Victoria, of an age sufficient enough to remember the Truth, will recall clearly the sometime gulf between the publication's title and it's content, although really it was a tabloid that launched a number of very high profile careers in real life).
Clancy's return to Australia has been precipitated by a health crisis, and the news that the heart attack he suffered was likely to reoccur should he not adjust his lifestyle. A move to a quiet coastal town to write a book seems like exactly the right idea, although the purchase of a house unseen, almost while he's in transit from the UK seems like a brave move, particularly when he discovers he's landed in a location anything but quiet. Peter's new neighbours are a fractious lot, not helped at all by the dodgy behaviour of a very suspect character new to the area himself. Not even a reunion with his oldest friend can change the course of Peter's perked interest though, as investigation is his default setting, although less kind individuals might put it down to him being as nosy as many of his new neighbours.
As with earlier books in this series, each entry can stand on its own if you're new to the set. As you'd also expect from 6 novels now, it would be better if a reader could start from the beginning and work their way through, as Clancy's backstory is a big part of the world he inhabits, and the way that he always reacts to events. It's also a great series for giving you a feel for the good old days of investigative journalism, newspapers, and the cut and thrust of newsrooms the world over. I've always been a bit of a fan of the supporting characters in this series as well, and the return of Conni and her place in this world fleshed out his private life, as the earlier books have done with the professional.
The investigation at the heart of BEACHDAZE starts off with the sorts of typical neighbourhood disputes that happen in areas undergoing rapid (and often very dodgy) development. Fence disputes, illegal dumping and vandalism escalate to break-ins and threats, leading rapidly to a series of sudden and unexplained deaths. The authorities (and there's more than a hint of corruption there) are loath to get involved early on in the piece, which leaves the sleuthing field wide open for Peter, an invitation he's unable to resist - health concerns or no health concerns.
Written with a lightish touch, a hefty sense of dry humour, and great affection, the Peter Clancy series is a nice little distraction from the utter binfire that's mainstream journalism these days.
He'd been given enough warnings...
Only a heart attack could make Peter Clancy leave his beloved London and the excitement of his work as an investigative journalist. He moves to a quiet coastal town in Australia, the perfect place to write a new book while avoiding all bad influences.
Serenity Bay turns out to be anything but quiet-the neighbours are noisy or nosy, getting under his skin or into his pants. Not even a surprise reunion with an old friend can turn this nightmare into the peaceful retreat Peter was seeking, intent as she is on reuniting him with at least one bad influence.
Of course, Peter doesn't need much persuasion to resume his vices-old habits die hard, and before long Peter is poking his nose into the affairs (in all senses) of not only his neighbours but the local council, property developers and even aged-care proprietors.
But with the authorities showing no interest in investigating reports by concerned citizens of illegal dumping, vandalism, break-ins and threats-not even after a number of sudden and unexplained deaths-who else can they turn to, but Peter the Perennially Energetic Journalist?