The Slow Roll, Simon Lendrum
THE SLOW ROLL is New Zealand based author Simon Lendrum's debut novel, which is worth mentioning because readers could be mistaken for thinking this is one of many. Engrossing, with a well constructed plot, a very engaging couple of central characters, and a dry, almost melancholic style, this is a story of a professional gambler, his girlfriend Claire and a missing person case that's, well, complicated.
O'Malley's a professional gambler with a bit on his plate. The murder of one of his poker partners, and some drug dealers, money launderers, the police, and gangs sniffing about sounds like enough to be going on with, but Mr Tupuola is so polite, gently persuasive and worried about his missing daughter, that O'Malley finds himself agreeing to to look for her as well.
Relying slightly more on character than plot, in that O'Malley and his bad memories, and the sorrow that life has delivered him, balanced more than ably by girlfriend Claire who is intriguing, and a darn fine investigator into the bargain, are rightly allowed to take centre stage. Of course, nothing is going to be as it seems in the search for the missing girl, even without the complications of all the other goings on, yet somehow Lendrum manages to weave in some clever social commentary, a great sense of place and time, and some intense, and rather fun action pieces that just flat out worked well on the page.
Set within the world of professional gambling there are some great openings for plot elements that involve a lot of illegal activities common to gang based storylines, yet THE SLOW ROLL pays homage to the greats of that style, in particular, of American crime fiction, without straying into being copycat. The characters are fascinating, the interaction of O'Malley and Claire very engaging and real, and the sense of place, strong without being overpowering or overt.
It seemed a simple request. ”Can you find my daughter who has run away?” But for professional gambler O’Malley, life isn’t that simple.
There is the murder of one of his poker partners, the attention of drug dealers, money launderers, the police, the gangs, and just to top it all off there is his intriguing girlfriend Claire, who just seems to be better at part-time sleuthing than he is.
No, nothing is simple for O’Malley.
A brilliantly written and intriguing debut crime novel, set in Auckland and featuring two lead characters with intelligence and empathy who just leave you wanting more to read.