I’m ending #BBCrimeWeek with the first book in a new gritty crime series from Titan Books, written by multi-award winning author Conrad Williams. Dust and Desire introduces us to troubled private investigator Joel Sorrell.
A former police officer, Joel is haunted by the cruel murder of his wife and the disappearance of his teenage daughter. With that in mind, he can’t resist missing person cases and when an enigmatic young woman seeks him out to find her missing brother, of course he can’t say no.
Despite not having much information to go on, Joel agrees but then someone tries to kill him and the woman herself goes missing. This all occurs in conjunction with a vicious serial killer on the loose and Joel finds that the answers to the terrible problems he is faced with may be linked to his darker past.
I often prefer the PI stories to ones where an official police detective is the lead character, because even without official authority, PIs seem to work by their own rules (if not always strictly legit or even legal) which makes the story much more interesting. Wise cracking, no nonsense Joel is a perfect example of a distressed man who has his own maverick methods of operation when it comes to cases which may be a little messy but seems to work for him.
There is a very dark yet brilliant sense of humour in his narration and this book is totally worth the read for his sharp witted one-liners alone. We mostly learn about Joel Sorrell from the man himself but there is an interlude from the serial killer and his life which adds an even more sinister undertone to the prose.
The story is not for the faint hearted. The crimes are horrific, the murders are brutal and the violence is graphic – and if you like that kind of thing, you’ll definitely be hooked. With little forays into Liverpool, the story is mostly set in London as Joel traipses all over the capital following leads. Settings are well described and I think Londoners will especially enjoy this tale for that reason.
Joel is one of those characters where trouble just seems to find him and cling on for dear life, and as this is only the start of his series, I really am looking forward to see what the future brings for the battered and bruised investigator. Razor sharp and insanely compelling, Dust and Desire is an explosive novel that crime fiction readers will love.