Stuart Pawson






Allison and Busby, 2006
Reviewed by Sunnie Gill

Detective Inspector Charlie Priest of the Heckley CID is pretty happy with life right now. Heís been promoted to Acting Detective Chief Inspector, his relationship with Sonia, a champion middle-distance runner, is going very well and he is fitter than he has ever been, thanks to accompanying her on training runs. He is also happy with the team of detectives working for him. They are a good bunch who work well together. There is just one fly in the ointment. Detective Sergeant Eddy Carmichael. He has been foisted upon Charlie by a Superintendent from another division, as a favour. Carmichael is an arrogant, sexist bully who has a thinly disguised disrespect for Charlie. His attitude and behaviour are undermining the morale of Charlieís otherwise happy team.

While Charlie is working out ways of dealing with Eddy, an elderly man is discovered dead. First impressions are that he has committed suicide in a rather bizarre way. Why electrocute yourself by twisting vacuum cleaner cable around your thumbs and turning on the current? However, a minor detail noticed at the scene causes Charlie to question that finding.

A short time after that a local small time drug dealer is found bashed on the head in his home. But itís not that that makes Charlie wonder if the two are connected. Itís the fact that heís found hanging by his feet from a rope thrown over the rafters with his head in the toilet. That makes a second bizarre death. In a small place like Heckley itís asking too much to believe itís a coincidence.

As if thatís not enough, one evening Sonia doesnít return from her evening run, sending Charlie into a panic wondering whether he and Sonia have somehow become the targets of this ruthless killer.

Charlie is an affable bloke with good leadership skills. He is genuinely liked and respected by the detectives who work under him. Each member of the team has their own personality and quirks. And itís the little touches that bring Pawsonís characters alive; in-jokes around the office; conversations about the trivial Ė football pools, pub quiz night and the like. They could be a group of people in any office, not police officers doing a difficult, sometimes dangerous, job.

Reading a Charlie Priest novel is like visiting an old and much-liked friend. While there are no great surprises, you know you will enjoy Charlie and his crew. SHOOTING ELVIS is the eleventh in the Charlie Priest series. Oh, and if youíre wondering where the title SHOOTING ELVIS comes from, the answer lies near the end of the book.

Jan 2007 review originally published on Murder & Mayhem


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