Tangled Web UK Review March 1998
File Updated: 31/03/00
Murder Live Murder Live by Frank Palmer
pbk out November 99 (Allison Busby) at £5.99
An outside broadcast television crew has been given official permission to accompany police who are responding to 999 calls. One of these calls involves the television presenter Clive Voss, a charismatic personality well known to his audience. He is seen on his way to trouble outside a city centre nightspot. The usual shaky camera follows him as he jumps out of his truck before it has stopped and disappears into a dark alley. A shot is heard and the camera zooms in on Voss lying in a spreading pool of blood.
The upshot is that the Home Secretary announces to the Commons that an immediate, thorough and independent investigation into law and order would be undertaken by the Chief Inspector of Constabularies. This is Sir Donald Cameron, the highest-ranking officer in the modern police service, the top cop. And one of his team is Detective Chief Superintendent Phil ""Sweeney"" Todd who uses the cover of the Commission to find out who killed Clive Voss and why.
Todd limps through the book on his “bum leg"", following up his leads and getting badly beaten up on the way. He is convinced that the local Mr Big, Alex Ball, known as Golden Balls, is at the heart of things and could have done the murder, but Ball's alibi is solid. Has he paid for a hit man? If so, who is it? And why? Ball has An Achilles heel, however, in his daughter Amanda, but she is not all he thinks she is.
Todd's investigation takes him into the seamy underside of the lovely cathedral city, which is the setting for the novel. Ball is involved in drug smuggling and race fixing at the dogs and Clive Voss in blue movies featuring prominent people and blackmail. It is a mish mash of crime and corruption, but Todd presses on to the end. The book is narrated from his point of view in a clipped and colloquial style which is fluent enough and allows for many verbless sentences, Devotees of Sweeney Todd will enjoy this one. John Boyles

( John Boyles )