Monday, 17 March 2014

The Drumbeater by Clive Allan

When a couple who are out walking on a remote Scottish beach stumble across partially buried skeletal remains they unwittingly set in motion the uncovering of a long held secret.

Neil Strachan is a history graduate and detective and is the ideal man to investigate as the remains appear to belong to a German Naval Officer and date back to World War Two.  His first port of call is to question the few remaining elderly residents who lived in the village during the war. However, all that Neil discovers is an impenetrable wall of silence but he suspects that they know a lot more than they are telling him.

Will Neil be able to discover the mystery surrounding the remains found on the beach and will the locals ever trust him enough to disclose a long held secret?

I approached this book expecting it to be a run of the mill detective story. You know the kind of thing, detective who is full of neurosis but who outwits the system with determination and a slight bending of the rules. There are hundreds of books like that out there. However, the character of Detective Neil Strachan absolutely does not conform to the stereotype and is a breath of fresh air to the detective genre. He is a well adjusted individual who approaches his case with intelligence and sensitivity.  In fact, it’s probably true to say, that by the time I had finished this novel I had developed a bit of a crush on him…sigh…..sigh…..

That said, this novel contained an interesting and thoughtful plot that kept me well engaged throughout.  There were several occasions when the plot twisted in a direction I was not expecting and thus ensured that I was fully hooked by this story.

The narration alternates between the present investigation and the actual events of 1944 and this lends another dimension to the novel. It was very interesting to see how Neil’s thinking corresponded to the actual events of the past.

For once, I have no criticisms to make. It meandered along at an appropriate pace with fascinating characters and an engaging plot. The end of this novel was also wonderfully satisfying and all the loose ends were neatly tied up. I personally like that in a detective novel and often have felt frustrated with other novels of this genre when they are not fully concluded. But this finished off in a very fulfilling manner and the only thing I was left with was the hope that there will be more novels featuring Neil Strachan.

This book will be enjoyed by anyone who enjoys detective fiction particularly if you enjoy the cold case scenario. I also think that this novel deserves a wide audience for the very fact that it doesn’t conform to the formula of it’s genre and is extremely well crafted. Mr Allan is clearly a very skilled storyteller and I sincerely hope that there will be a lot more writing of this quality emerging from the authors pen.

ISBN:  978 1783062195

Publisher:  Matador

Price (based on today’s Kindle price on  £4.99

Total saving so far:  £214.22

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