Many moons ago I read Man and Boy by Tony Parsons and was pleasantly surprised by this warm and delightful story of family relationships and a father faced with the responsibility of being the sole parent for his small son. I was aware that he had written a detective series, for some years I avoided but often wondered how it could be possible to produce such emotive writing in a totally different genre. Girl on Fire has been an amazing read combining all Parson's warmth from his earlier books with a gritty fast paced detective story engaging and shocking in equal measures.
"I woke up and found the world was gone" These are the opening "explosive" thoughts of DC Max Wolfe as he recovers and surveys the aftermath of a terrorist attack at a local shopping centre. Wolfe is a member of a specialist firearms unit of the Metropolitan police. Following the explosion he and his team are tasked with finding the individuals responsible, made all the more urgent when it becomes clear that an unknown number of Croatian hand grenades have..."found their way across from the Balkans to our streets"....They have been traced to two brothers Asad and Adnan Khan who also appear to be linked in some way to the shopping centre explosion. The race is on to expose the terrorist cell before more death and destruction "bloodies" the streets of London.
This is an astounding, intelligent, up to the minute, thriller that not only addresses terrorism on the capital's streets but also the affects such acts of hatred has on both the individuals and families involved. What happens when different cultures and beliefs collide? When social media can be used to brainwash the bad and the vulnerable? And when angry young men and women are prepared to kill for what they feel is a righteous and just cause....But this story is much more than that. The warmth, the love and values that graced the earlier books of Tony Parsons is still present and adds an extra layer of brilliance to some of the best emotive prose I have read in a very long time. There is Scout, Max Wolfe' cherished daughter, living with him but now the subject of a court battle between Wolfe and his ex "model" wife Anne. There is the harsh reality that life in a dangerous frontline policing job means friends and colleagues may be present one day and sadly gone tomorrow. There is the unquestionable love that exists between man and (his) dog (Stan)..."I lie belly-up in the sunshine, happier than you will ever be. Today I sniffed many dot butts-I celebrate by kissing your face"....There is the complex often hypocritical belief in religious teachings and the affects and fallouts that all in society must bear witness to.
There is an explosive start to Girl on Fire and an equally harrowing "I never expected that" conclusion. Tony Parsons has accomplished what I never thought possible by creating something new and deeply heartfelt in crime fiction. In DI Max Wolfe we have a vulnerable antihero and a story that brilliantly moulds all the jagged edges of this sorry tale together. We as readers understand and appreciate Wolfe's weaknesses. The story is real, the action is real, the people the emotions, the daily turmoil, the highs and lows of modern living are all so real and on these pages..wonderful stuff...wonderful writing.
Many thanks to the publishers Random House UK, Cornerstone Century and netgalley for a gratis copy in exchange for an honest review and that is what I have written. Highly highly Recommended.