Friday, 27 January 2012
Ewart Hutton's "Good People"
This fortnight, I've spent my time with Ewart Hutton's debut novel, Good People (out on the 2nd February, next month). It aims to be the first in a series of mystery/crime novels based on the adventures of the disgraced half-Welsh, half-Italian copper, Glyn Capaldi. Its premise put me in mind of Simon Pegg and Nick Frost's comedy film, Hot Fuzz: City cop makes big mistake and ends up in the back-end-of-no-where, in a community of people who are too close for comfort. However, the big differences are that Good People isn't comedy, and is a heck of a lot darker. Also, the cavalry turn up a lot sooner as well.
As you'd expect from a good crime-novel, there are plenty of twists, plenty to keep your mind ticking over, trying to get ahead of Capaldi himself. It is an enjoyable and easy read, though at first for me Capaldi's character really grated. He sounds like something out of an American crime drama - he wouldn't have been out of place in New York. However, he is out of place in Cardiff and South Wales... fortunately that voice wears down into something a lot more readable and believable. Hutton, a little way in, finds Capaldi's real voice and that's when the fun really begins.
Saying this, the story doesn't leave you waiting around, ready for something to happen for the sake of long-haul character development - it doesn't immediately indulge in describing Capaldi's past. We pick up hints of what happened to him in Cardiff, but only enough to keep whetting our appetites - the story in the background of the current mystery. It's very well put together, and it knows it's part of a series - there's plenty of time to get to know the characters over the next stretch of books so it gives us information on a need-to-know basis.
In the strain of recent crime dramas, such as CSI, Hutton bravely takes on a disturbing crime for his first novel. Sexual deviancy with a side order of murder, in plenty of detail. For some more delicately-minded readers, it might not be the best read. Personally, it doesn't faze me - but I've read another review where one person was affected by it (A great detective story, just a bit graphic - a fellow Waterstones reviewer). However, as I pointed out before, if you've watched enough CSI Vegas in the last couple of years, sexual deviancy is probably not a problem.
Overall, I really enjoyed this novel, I pretty much just sat and read the whole thing over a couple of nights, quite happily. I even allowed a number of cups of tea to go cold in the process! I'm looking forward to seeing what the next novel might bring.