Stuart Pawson is a friend of mine and a Murder Squad colleague who shares a publisher with me, so I cannot claim that I’m entirely unbiased, but I must say that I was very pleased to receive from Allison & Busby a copy of his latest book, A Very Private Murder, and equally delighted to read it.
Stuart is one of those relatively unusual novelists who has focused throughout his career on a single detective character. He’s tried a few non-series short stories, but all the novels feature D.I. Charlie Priest, a very likeable fellow indeed. I well remember Stuart once reading a very funny, and rather rude, scene from an earlier book when we did a Squad event at Knutsford, and the respectable Cheshire ladies in the audience absolutely loved it.
This time, Charlie finds himself investigating the death of the mayor of Heckley. The story is full of Stuart’s trademark dry humour, whether he muses on nasal hair razors or Friday night in a small town. And I love the idea of domino players in a pub being compared to the chess players in The Seventh Seal. The book is packed with great lines.
The first person narrative technique works very well for Charlie, and there is so much pleasure to be derived from the Yorkshire ambience (I speak as the son of a Yorkshire woman, who was firmly of the view that there was no better place in the world) that the plots sometimes seem of secondary importance. But Stuart Pawson always tells a good story, and tells it well.
The photo, by the way, shows Stuart and me in Nevada a few years ago and was taken by Stuart's wife Doreen. Nothing to do with his book, admittedly, but a reminder to me of a fun trip with two great companions.