Imagine that your older brother is one of the world’s most famous writers of American thrillers – even though he happens to be British. Daunting, perhaps, if you chose to follow a similar career… or a spur to match your sibling’s immense success? Fortunately for readers, Andrew Grant appears to have adopted the latter course, and with his remarkable debut novel, Even, he has pulled out all the stops to produce something quite as full-throttle as anything by his brother (who just happens to be Lee Child, author of the Jack Reacher series). But there’s no whiff of nepotism here – Grant (who was born in Birmingham) had sold his manuscript before he showed it to his brother. And while Grant (like Child) sets his books in a pungently realised, pitch-perfect America, his protagonist is English – unlike the very American Jack Reacher.

In New York City, David Trevellyan stumbles across the body of a tramp in an alley – a body that has six neatly-spaced bullets across the chest. Trevellyan is arrested, and finds he has been set up – a witness gives a perfect description of the murderer – him. But Trevellyan is an operative for Royal Naval intelligence (a fact cannily concealed by Grant until this point) – and both he and the murdered man were on assignment in New York. There have been six previous killings, and a lethal and powerful woman with a predilection for castration is involved. But Trevellyan is a very tough customer, and stands every chance of making it in one piece through this very bloody business (after all, this is the first book in a series featuring Lieutenant Commander David Trevellyan).

To say that Grant’s debut hits the ground running is an understatement — the pace is accelerando, and calculated to ensure that no reader puts the book down easily. But this is not action at the expense of character: Grant freights in such detail on the hoof (we learn a considerable amount about Trevellyan – such as his troubled childhood – through a judicious use of flashback, even as the narrative barrels along). Grant (who worked in both theatre and telecommunications) has said that he realised from the example of his brother that it was possible to change your life through a radical change of career; on the evidence of Even, Andrew Grant’s new career will offer a serious challenge to Lee Child’s effortless dominance of the bestseller charts.

EVEN

by Andrew Grant

Macmillan £12.99

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