MAN OF THE WORLD
It’s always good news to hear that Mr B has a new book out. I even got my grubby mitts on an advanced copy so read ’em and weep, folks — I already have! Read it, that is. The blurb:
Ageing hit-man Tommy Bennett left London and returned to his hometown of Seatown, hoping for respite from the ghosts of the violent past that haunted him. However, things don’t go to plan and trouble and violence soon follow Tommy to Seatown. Tommy is soon embroiled in Seatown’s underworld and his hopes of a peaceful retirement are dashed. Tommy deliberates whether or not to leave Seatown and return to London. Or even leave Great Britain altogether. So, he heads back to London where violence and mayhem await him.
I missed Seatown! It’s great to be back there. Tommy Bennett is back: he was Last Year’s Man but now he’s even more lethal. He’d really rather retire. He’s almost making peace with the ghosts that haunt him. But the old life pulls him back in every time. And as we all know, the dead don’t always stay dead.
The story turns on a dime from laid-back humour to grievous bodily harm. One minute you’re chuckling as dim-witted low-lifes argue about pop music, then in Chandler-esque fashion a man walks through a door with a gun — and probably dressed as a nun to boot. Brazill makes it all look easy — John Le Mesurier easy. The pace seldom slackens for more than a few pages then we’re off and running again, or rather Tommy is, and he’s left a body or two behind him and a few lively ones chasing him.
True to its title, we start in Seatown but soon we’re off to the Big Smoke and then even further afield. Familiar names pop up: some from his other yarns and beware, crime writing friends of Brazill are likely to wind up dead. All the flourishes you expect from his stories are there: small time crooks improbably questioning the quality of Jane Austen novels, enough song references to fill a day-long radio show, lyrical twists, and you never know what’s lurking behind that closed door though it’s bound to be memorable (I’m still snorting at one of the truly bizarre reveals).
There is more pink than you’d expect in a noir novella.
And I’ll tell you a secret: when he thinks you’re not paying attention Brazill throws in a few lines of absolute poetry. It may seem like finding antique doubloons in busker’s hat full of pennies, but it’s just the thing for those of us lying in the gutter, gazing up at the stars.