Claire McGowan has become a familiar figure on the London crime fiction scene as the new Director of the Crime Writers’ Association, but it is clear from this assured debut novel that her real métier is delivering criminous diversions such as may be found in The Fall. There are elements of the police procedural here, with a well-drawn copper in Hegarty — though it has to be said that the latter is cut from a familiar cloth. The real achievement of the book, however, is its strikingly variegated cast of characters, particularly some vividly realised female protagonists whose individual characters fairly leap off the page. No doubt McGowan felt that we needed a conventional copper to draw her narrative together, but it’s the women here who count. Such as the feckless mixed-race Keisha, in thrall to a pretty worthless male; she is someone we find ourselves wanting to spend time in the company of, however annoyingly she behaves. (In fact, the males in the book are a pretty sorry bunch). McGowan has a keen ear for class and social nuance, and readers of The Fall will find themselves looking forward to her next book with some anticipation.

The Fall by Claire McGowan is published by Headline

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