Wednesday, May 11, 2016
Review of A House of Knives by William Shaw (Quercus, 2014)
A House of Knives is the second book in the Breen and Tozer series set in late 1960s London. Book two picks up shortly after the end of the first and I would recommend reading them in turn, starting with A Song From Dead Lips. The real joy of both books are the likeable characters of Cathal ‘Paddy’ Breen and Helen Tozer and their interactions and on-going battles with their colleagues. Both are outsiders – Breen, second generation Irish who mainly plays things by the book (unlike his colleagues) and Tozer, a headstrong, independent woman in a pretty much all male police force – and both are interesting company. As for the story, it’s a fairly pacy police procedural set in the dying days on the Swinging Sixties in which Shaw intersects three main plot lines, each focusing on a murder – the deaths of an anonymous man, a government minister’s son, and the person suspected of sending Breen death threats. There’s plenty going on, but the story never loses direction. However, the denouement of one strand felt somewhat weak and unsatisfying. Nonetheless, A House of Knives is an entertaining read and I’m looking forward to reading the third book in the series.