Ar­rowod by Mick Fin­lay

BY MICK FIN­LAY (HQ) Out 23 MARCH

Crime Scene - - POST MORTEM - By KEVIN HAR­LEY

f you ever thought the Sher­lock Holmes sto­ries might ben­e­fit from be­ing steeped in gin, caked in grime and then left un­washed for weeks, so­cio-psy­chol­ogy lec­turer Mick Fin­lay’s 1895-set de­tec­tive de­but is for you. While Holmes took so­ci­ety cases, Fin­lay’s Wil­liam Ar­rowood is your pri­vate dick for dirty deeds done dirt cheap: when he isn’t booz­ing him­self sense­less, he takes on cases from those who can’t af­ford Holmes.

We meet self-de­clared Holmes-hater Ar­rowood and his tough ’n’ ready John Wat­son-alike pal, nar­ra­tor Nor­man Bar­nett, when a French­woman tasks them with find­ing her miss­ing brother. The mys­tery leads them to a grim South Lon­don boozer, the Bar­rel of Beef, and on to darker places, where Fe­ni­ans, dodgy cop­pers, lethal gang­sters, boiled-to-death corpses, bad mem­o­ries and ruth­less vi­o­lence await them.

Like the mus­tard-slathered beef sarnie Ar­rowood mess­ily de­vours, the re­sult is a richly sharp, meaty mys­tery, made ex­tra-pun­gent by Fin­lay’s brack­ish vi­sion of a boozead­dled city, themes of so­cial in­jus­tice and com­plex leads. Fin­lay’s he­roes are en­gag­ingly flawed creations – guilt-rid­den, grief-stricken, gout-rid­dled. Tellingly, Ar­rowood calls him­self an emo­tional agent, not a de­duc­tive one: he’s all about read­ing peo­ple, not clues. Unafraid to dirty his hands on the grubby sides of hu­man­ity and his­tory, Fin­lay makes a strong case for his psy­cho­log­i­cal method­olo­gies.

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