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Highly commended for the CWA John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger in 2011, this is a novel to “grab’n’read” quickly. Set in 1960s Brighton, it feels true to the era and conjures up a remarkable evocation of the criminals of that time.
Young Soho detective, Vince Treadwell – also known as ‘Vinnie Clean Face’ – is sent to Brighton, his home town, for a goody bag of reasons. After an ‘incident’ from which he has slowly recuperated, some colleagues may prefer him to be elsewhere for a while. So the carrots are dangled before him. He has three weeks’ holiday coming to him which he certainly doesn’t want, and he wouldn’t choose Brighton as his destination. But he’s ambitious for the Murder Squad and is offered his first murder in an advisory capacity to the local force while he is on ‘holiday’.
Certain aspects of the Brighton in which Vince grew up have not changed. Elusive and vicious Corsican gangster Jack Regent is still operating, and the murder case with which Vince is presented looks open-and-shut for Regent. But he can’t be found. Where Vince’s childhood growing up in the tough Albion Hill area was full of Regent lore, his first murder case is about to put him in direct contact. It doesn’t help that he falls for Regent’s girlfriend Bobbie LaVita…
The plot of Kiss Me Quick can require some concentration as it’s heavily populated but, combined with an evocation of time and culture so true to the era, this repays with a very satisfying read. It’s full of the seedier side of criminality in the 1960s and can be brutal. We also see the effects on those living on the periphery of the crimes and on the victims. Kiss Me Quick is bumper-packed with gangland operations, organised crime, police corruption, commercial illegal activities of the worst sort, sordid nightclubs and Mods and Rockers clashes. But in ‘Vinnie Clean Face’ we have someone we believe in: a copper women would love to be in the company of and men would aspire to be, whatever the decade.
Kiss Me Quick presents a very juicy start to a series featuring Detective Vince Treadwell and should not be missed. The second in the series, The Guilded Edge, follows in May 2012.