Neil Broadfoot – No Place To Die
Published by Constable, paperback £8.99. My review is of the hardback edition (Constable, £19.99), which I received a copy of from the author.
Venture capitalist-turned-lifestyle guru Blair Charlston has chosen a luxury hotel on the outskirts of Stirling to deliver his message to the faithful at a weekend retreat, and Connor Fraser has taken on the contract for his security despite his dislike for the man and his methods. Meanwhile, reporter Donna Blake is asking too many questions about Charlston’s past – then a former colleague of hers is murdered before he can pass on some potentially crucial information connected Charlston, and the life coaching weekend’s opening night bonfire (for participants to “burn away their old lives”) ends in tragedy.
The second in Neil Broadfoot’s Stirling-set series is just as fast-paced and action-packed as the first, with plenty of his trademark crunching violence scattered across the pages and several wince-inducing moments – and all kicked off with what has become known as That First Line, which begins a prologue that is at once unsettling and irresistible. He hits the ground running with short, snappy chapters adding to the sense of urgency.
The cast of characters will also grab your attention, from Connor himself down to the smallest cameo designed to raise a smile in the reader between bouts of menace and violence, though I could have taken a little more character conversation in places to give me a breather to process all the action – you have to concentrate here. But we get a few glimpses of Connor the man, as opposed to Connor the operative, which suggest there are depths in him that would challenge the stamina of a professional diver. And of course there’s world-weary DCI Ford, man-mountain Paulie, fast becoming a fan favourite even though he barely says a word, plus Jen and the will-they-won’t-they relationship which has me yelling at the pages in frustration at Connor’s reluctance to commit to anything more complex than a coffee break.
There’s a lot of intrigue and shady business dealings and dodgy goings-on, but in the end there is a resolution and a sense of justice served thanks to the dogged work of Ford, Donna and Connor even as they pull in different directions in their investigations.
You can jump straight in to No Place To Die without reading series opener No Man’s Land, though I suspect once you’ve read NPTD you’ll want to go back to find out what Connor has been up to in the past (find my review of NML here – and it was longlisted for the 2019 McIlvanney Prize, if you need further convincing of its merits). There’s a third novel arriving in September, The Point Of No Return – fasten your seatbelts…
Audiobooks of Neil’s three Connor Fraser novels will be released on 3 September
(Full disclosure: Neil and I have been friends for many years, but his books earn their place on the blog like anyone else’s on the only criteria that matters: are they any good? Trust me, he’d be the first to know if I didn’t think they were… :-D)