I’m always honest about the books I read. If this blog seems surprisingly positive, it is because I try my best to see the best in the books I read. With that said, I do my upmost to give honest feedback and can be critical where I feel it is deserved. I did not immediately like London Calling, debut novel of journalist-turned-author James Craig. It took a while to get in, and I was somewhat put off by the crass and uncompromising style of Craig’s writing. Upon reflection, now that I have finished the novel, I am quite pleased to announce that it did in fact hook me in at some stage, and I devoured the second half of the novel in a matter of hours. If you’re open minded to some slightly suggestive and sometimes altogether diabolical scenes and you’re after a thriller that goes beyond the general run-of-the-mill political thrillers, London Calling is the book for you.
Inspector John Carlyle is disliked by most around him, yet as a reader I warmed to him almost instantly. An occasionally disgruntled police officer in his forties, Carlyle has made the rounds of the London police force, and we now find him working out of the Charing Cross station in Central London. What helps the reader get a clearer understanding of Carlyle are Craig’s frequent flashback chapters, which are off-putting to some but really aid in the story development here. The murky worlds of policing and politics are never clear cut, and for the debut novel in what will be a series of novels, a significant back-story is essential to grasp the motives of the characters and place what would otherwise be a series of unrelated events into some context.
As London moves closer to a General Election, someone is grotesquely killing off past members of an old club from Cambridge University. Serial killers are never well received at the best of times, and when other members of the notorious circle include the current mayor and the man tipped to be the next Prime Minister, things become exceptionally complicated. Once the link is made between the club and the gentleman who remain alive, it becomes a dangerous game of cat and mouse as Carlyle and his fellow officers try to protect the most powerful men in the country and unravel the key question of the book: why, after all these years, are the 1984 Merrion Club members being picked off one by one?
I thoroughly enjoyed this book overall. Once I got past the initial backlog of information and composed myself after a particularly graphic murder scene, Craig’s style of writing gripped me and helped me turn the pages almost in a trance. My oh so familiar internal battle of “just one more chapter” was lost in the final 50-or-so pages of the novel as the climax is particularly engrossing. Definitely not for the faint hearted, and not by any means in the same league as personal favourite Stieg Larsson, this novel will please and hopefully thrill lovers of good, gritty political crime. I do suggest it to fellow Larsson lovers though, as Craig’s somewhat deranged killer echoes some of Larsson’s more gruesome ideas. Happily awaiting the second Carlyle novel.