On the Bookshelf...

Never Walk Away

Nick Triplow

A senior civil servant dies in suspicious circumstances. A sensitive file in his possession and evidence of contact with a human rights lawyer lead the authorities to believe he is a whistle-blower. This needs a police officer used to operating in the murky world between policing and intelligence. DS Mark (Max) Lomax is a former Special Demonstration Squad officer – a Special Branch unit dedicated to infiltrating political and extremist groups, a world he thinks he has left far behind. Following a botched stakeout of a north London gangster, he finds himself on enforced leave and is called back into his old world of half-truths and conflicting agendas. As he digs into the death of the civil servant, Max is obstructed at every turn, forcing him to turn to the people he once betrayed for help. With political reputations on the line, the case becomes less about uncovering the truth, than burying it for good.

Never Walk Away by Nick Triplow is a dark view of the underbelly of our country. Nick's a new author to me yet I loved the characters and plot of this book from the start. It reads like an old school detective or spy novel of the sixties. Believe me when I say this isn't a bad look. Max is a weird, at times unlikeable, character yet he gets under your skin. His dogged tireless digging into finding the truth are thankfully better than his social skills.

This isn't a novel you can skim read large parts of. Every page needs to be eagely read so you don't miss an important clue. The style of wriitng is excellent. Descriptions of some events or places aren't needed yet they make you elieve you're actually there. Lots of observation like when Max is in a service station, Nicks descriptions nad thoughts bring the place live. He sees the mundane in the world and weaves it into the story.

There are comparisons with Mick Heron's Slow Horses series of books. Yet that kind of cheapens the book. This is better than those, excellent as they are. The political back plot is really believable, set as it is in the hindleg days of the Blair era. Corrupt officals secretly knocking off those who stand in their way and then covering up the mess. Like a sixties Le Carre novel at times.

The ending leaves it open to a series featuring Max Lomas. I certainly hope to read more of this detective. A brilliant debut novel.

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Review by
AJ Steel
February 1, 2024

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