It might be too much to expect DI Joe Faraday to ask for, “”Just the facts, ma’am””, but as police procedurals go, this Portsmouth-set novel with its murder at sea could be described as a cross between Dragnet and Fastnet. Flip as that may sound, there are a lot of things to like about Turnstone. The Portsmouth setting is gritty and convincing, the quick profiles of its lowlife making a dramatic background to Faraday’s own depression. Throw in the usual internal wrangles of an over-stretched police force trying to move past the cowboy practices of its own past, and Hurley has given Faraday plenty of conflicts to consider. And that’s before we get to his deaf-mute son.Hurley is best in his characterisations, just as convincing dealing with the petty egos of academics as the untrammelled ones of corrupt cops. His Portsmouth comes alive precisely because of that characterisation, through which Faraday moves neutrally enough to let us keep our perspective. If the case of murder that follows winds up being somewhat melodramatic and not necessarily the most convincing crime, its resolution works primarily because of the twist involving Faraday’s own love life. It’s a twist that Hurley bends for all its worth, to the point that Faraday appears to let the electricity he feels overcome what should be a detective’s natural revulsion to duplicity or betrayal. One hopes he’ll be back in another volume to learn his lesson.

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