I've not read a book quite like SHAMUS DUST. It is unique and yet it is very alluring. It is classic noir of the the 1940s murder mysteries once seen on the big screen.
It begins on Christmas Day in the post-war era of London in 1947. It's a cold and bleak morning when a man is found dead at a church, shot twice, causing shockwaves throughout the community. It seems though, that the victim, identified as Raymond Jarrett, was a local pimp and almost certainly up to no good. A search of his flat reveal pictures of young boys in compromising positions with which he used for blackmail. So it wasn't at all surprising that no one seems all that disappointed with his demise.
Jarrett's flat is owned by a local councillor who takes it upon himself to hire private eye, Newman aka "Shamus", to investigate what happened and to hush up any possibly scandal. Suspicions are aroused surrounding the nurse who discovered the body but are soon overshadowed by a missing university professor and his assistant, a male sex worker, an abusive father and his daughter along with plenty of other complications like corruption and greed soon have Newman digging deep into a very sordid aspect of London society.
It seems though that Councillor Drake has underestimated Newman's intelligence and abilities as he uncovers a homosexual ring, blackmail, greed, corruption and bent coppers. He is assisted along the way with a young female doctor who seems somewhat elusive and mysterious.
There are more murders and shocking twists along the way as the more Newman investigates and the deeper he digs, the higher the bodycount. Then throw in an archaeological find below London's Square Mile and you have an even bigger mystery at hand.
But somebody knows more than they're letting on. The question is - who?
SHAMUS DUST is most definitely a classic crime mystery in true noir-style. It's dark, it's sophisticated and it's atmospheric. My biggest flaw with with it would be the long and overt descriptions, some of which I felt could have been cut down but then at the same time does it add to that classic noir style?
I also wasn't fond of the lead being an American in London. I felt this was a classic British mystery needing a British protagonist. The added use of Americanised English only served to irritate me further, as there is nothing I hate more than American English in British books. I prefer spelling, language and terms appropriate to the period and place in which the book is set. To me, it felt out of character with the whole scene and didn't belong. But that is just my personal opinion - others may feel differently.
I note others have compared the writing style to that of Raymond Chandler. But as I've not read any I can't compare it myself. However, if you love dark, atmospheric writing then you are bound to enjoy SHAMUS DUST. This book has a little bit of everything - murder, blackmail, mystery, greed, corruption, lies and suspense.
I would like to thank #JanetRoger, #NetGalley and #Matador for an ARC of #ShamusDust in exchange for an honest review.