He lit another cigarette. Popped the ringpull on another can of Stella.
This was pointless.
He could sit here forever debating the pros and cons like some poncy intellectual while all the time he knew what he would do.
Fuck it, those bastards had to be sorted out.
Anyway, you had to die of something.
So Danny Lancaster is a former soldier, injured in the line of duty -- leaving him with one prosthetic (see also, Cormoron Strike). He didn't seem to know what to do with himself after leaving the army and ended up a small-time criminal who did a little time in prison. Then he started working as a P. I. (I'm not sure if he could have officially done that given his record, but I don't know). He seems to have skirted the edge of legality through this career -- helping the police frequently, but a known associate of noted criminals (see also, Rebus and Big Ger). The picture I get is of a less intellectual, more violent, and less alcoholic Matt Scudder.
Given that this is Book 6 in a series, Danny Lancaster is a pretty established character and the novel doesn't spend a lot of time exploring the character, mostly it's just using him. Which makes sense, especially given the plot -- but that means I have to rely a bit more than I normally would on extrapolating from what we're given and comparing him to better known characters.
When the book opens, he's been missing -- presumed dead by many -- for months. There are some hoping he's still alive, who wish the police (or someone) would find him. There are some who are convinced (hoping?) he's dead, and are fully prepared to leave him this way. And then there's one person who is convinced he's alive -- and will continue to be convinced until he sees a body -- and he's determined to find Danny.
The problem is that this man is a Russian mobster, with a lot of money, a lot of power -- and no patience or much time to live. Shortly before the "accident," Danny had disrupted this Russian's smuggling enterprise and he wants revenge. His associates in England pursue a particular strategy to bring Danny out of wherever he's hiding -- they start killing people associated with him, and will continue to do so until it works. They do this in such a way that it takes the police a long time to realize that's what's going on (and no one believes the first one to come to this conclusion).
Once Lancaster realizes what's happening, he takes definitive steps to bring this to an end. Now that the prey has been flushed from cover, it becomes a matter of hunter vs. the hunted (I'm not sure which is which, really). The action scenes are great, and it's easy to see why Danny Lancaster (the series or the character) have made it through five books already.
Most of the characters, like Lancaster, are clearly previously drawn and established. There are plenty of them, too. Again, if I knew them, I could appreciate their appearance and use. Those characters that are used for the first time I have a strong handle on and appreciate for.
I'm convinced that I'd have enjoyed this more than I did if it wasn't my first Danny Lancaster book. That said, you can absolutely read this as an entry point to the series -- it won't work as a stand-alone, you're going to want to read a possible seventh, and at the very least to go back and read the previous five. I just don't see anyone reading this and thinking, "yeah, I'm done now." I didn't fully appreciate everything that happened here, but I could tell that long-time readers would and that there was something about these characters that could inspire loyalty and excitement.
I liked it, I think I should've and could've liked it more, if I'd only done my homework. Give it a shot -- or better yet, read some of the earlier books and you'll like this all the more.
My thanks to damppebbles blog tours for the invitation to participate in this tour and the materials they provided (including the book).