Turnstone By Graham Hurley
What a thrill to discover a new - to me at least - mystery novelist. I am often introduced to writers, whose work I do not already know, by my customers; and it was a friendly customer who recommended that I read the mystery novels of Graham Hurley. And he's right - they are terrific. Certainly the first one was a good read - the detective is a well-developed character, and there is a definite sense of place.
This series is set in the city of Portsmouth on the south coast of England.
The series begins with Turnstone, first published in 2000, and re-issued in 2006. It is followed by several more, featuring Detective Inspector Joe Faraday. Joe Faraday is a nice guy - widowed many years ago he has raised his son, Joe Junior - JJ - alone. In this novel, JJ has just left home - at the age of 22 - and Faraday is unsure about how he will cope on his own.
JJ was born deaf, and in spite of attending school with success, his father is, understandably perhaps, over-protective and is having a difficult time letting go.
At the same time, the case Faraday is working on is a difficult one. It begins as a drug bust and becomes a murder investigation. Faraday has spent a lot of time in recent years behind a desk, but this case teases him.
A likeable guy
He can't let it go, and short staffed, he finds himself out on the streets doing the investigating himself, much to the chagrin of his superiors. Joe Faraday is a very likeable guy - he lives on the seaside, watches the birds with his Leica binoculars. Birds and bird watching remain a theme throughout the novel.
Graham Hurley says "For me, as a reader as well as a writer, it's character and narrative tone of voice. I love that moment, ideally on page one, when you hear this voice in your head, a new voice, and you just know that you've got to stay the distance. I find myself slowing up - simply to better savour the pleasure of the read." This is exactly how I felt about Graham Hurley's own book.
Graham Hurley was born in Portsmouth a year after the end of the Second World War. He read English literature at Cambridge, knowing he wanted to be a novelist. However, he spent 20 years working as a writer and filmmaker of documentary films before ever writing a novel.
Written several thrillers
He has written several espionage thrillers in addition to the Joe Faraday mystery series. Hurley writes that with the publication of Turnstone "the decision to step into crime fiction has been a true liberation. The key here is the fusion of strong central characters with a fundamental sense of place.
Faraday, Winter and the rest of the gang in my mind are part of the flora and fauna of Portsmouth, indivisible from the city they police. The one springs organically out of the other, and my sense of the city has grown and changed as the books begin to lead a life of their own.
I've lived here for more than 20 years now - and all the Pompey clichés are truer than ever.
It really is insular, inward-looking, rough, aggressive, occasionally forgiving, always busy, and still - despite the best efforts of all sorts of business people - uncursed by money. But there's also a kind of gruff and frequently brutal beauty about the place that I'd find hard to live without. Portsmouth is the kind of city where you are what you are, not what the aspirational label on the box says you want to be. And I like that. "
If you are a fan of writers such as Ian Rankin, John Harvey, Colin Dexter and Peter Robinson, I think you might enjoy Turnstone.