How is it possible to read a book placed within the crime genre but spend most of your time laughing whilst reading it? Although filled with spooks, villains and a larger than life main protagonist, this clever crime story never failed to show the humorous side of life – even amongst the tragedy and loss one might expect from such a tale. Throw in some brutally honest political satire and I can safely say A Barrow Boy’s Cadenza is three genres rolled into one. I can also safely say I have never read a book quite like it and the author should congratulate himself on his clever writing style and apparent ease and ability to mingle and cross genres.
Although this is book three of the Kind Hearts and Martinet series I have not, as yet, read the other two, and although I hope to do so in the near future, this book works perfectly well as a stand-alone. The principle setting is Portsmouth and having visited there myself a couple of times, the author does a great job of describing this historic port and Naval dockyard as well as some of its popular watering holes.
As with all great stories the main protagonist, the aging DCI Jack Austin (Jane to his friends), is wonderfully flawed but delightfully funny at the same time. Jack often talks to himself – out loud. He also has the unusual propensity to dish out rather amusing nicknames for all and sundry including Mandy, his long-suffering partner, often referred to as Mandy Pumps and Mandy Lifeboats but rather affectionately by her real name Amanda, during their more intimate moments. There is also Hissing Sid the desk sergeant, Jo Jums who is, in fact, Detective Inspector Josephine Wild and Colonel Horrocks nicknamed The General, just to name a few of the colourful but well-drawn supporting characters.
The storyline has great pace and although this novel sits perfectly well within the crime genre, the plot is delivered with warmth and affection and a generous dose of farcical humour as well as some very poignant political commentary. Highly recommended to fans of comedy and crime alike.