Today I am delighted to share my review of The Follow by Paul Grzegorzek. A big thank you to Finn Cotton at Killer Reads who provided an advance copy of the book for review. As today it the books paperback back birthday I’d also like to add a ‘Happy Publication Day’ to the author. Here’s hoping you have a lot of celebrating planned. Here is what the book is all about:
The Bookish Bits
Danger is never far behind…
A fast-paced and riveting crime novel and the first in a new Brighton-set police procedural series featuring PC Gareth Bell. Perfect for fans of Peter James.
‘Fast paced and full of tension, The Follow packs an explosive punch! Great read!’ Casey Kelleher
He knows the man is guilty. And he will do anything to prove it…
PC Gareth Bell watches the psychopath who stabbed Bell’s partner stroll out of court a free man. Somebody on the inside tampered with the evidence, and now one of Brighton’s most dangerous criminals is back on the streets again.
Bell’s personal mission for revenge takes him onto the other side of the law and into the dark, violent underworld of the glamourous seaside city. Soon he faces a horrifying choice: risk everything he holds dear, or let the man who tried to kill his partner walk free…
You may have picked up from my reviews that I am quite a fan of the old police based crime thriller. I’m loathe to use the term procedural as I often find that the story takes us far beyond the typical ‘procedure’ used by Police Officer and into worlds that are altogether more personal or adventurous. Procedure implies rules and regulations and uniform (no pun intended) governed by tedious policy and, if I were being honest, that is about as far from what takes place in The Follow by Paul Grzegorzek as you could possibly get.
Now, don’t get me wrong, as a writer with many years experience of the ins and outs of actual Police procedure, that knowledge shines through in the story. There are many times when the tedious nature of police paperwork and even the less glamorous side of undercover work are explored, the narrative confirming what any real police officer (and avid readers who read the right kind of police thrillers) could tell you. That doesn’t make the action any less exciting and it didn’t put me off as a reader. Far from it as the author has also infused the action scenes with both tension and humour as the scene dictates, something which has been done with great aplomb.
Gareth Bell is a brilliant protagonist. Passionate, loyal, but not afraid to bend the rules a little (hell, a lot) in order to ensure that he see’s justice done. It is just as a sure fire conviction against a major league dealer who stands accused of stabbing Bell’s partner and best friend, Jimmy, goes horribly wrong, that we join the action, and that we get to meet our hero, PC Bell. Bell is an officer in the Divisional Intelligence Unit in Brighton, a team that deals with some of the most serious crimes in the area, which in Bell’s case is drugs. Bell is incensed by the miscarriage of justice and about to find himself on the wrong side of the law well and truly as seemingly routine, if not slightly unorthodox, surveillance on his part results in some very major and very unforeseen circumstances.
I don’t want to say more about the story than that as I think you need to read it for yourself. What I will say though is that Bell is a good person, trying to make a bad situation right, but his passion for his colleagues and his job does seem to overshadow his common sense sometimes. Not always, but often enough, and it puts him right in the firing line, both figuratively and literally. Told in the first person narrative, Bell’s easy way of speaking translates well to the story, drawing you in as a reader and keeping you invested in the fortune of both Bell and the rest of the team. I did really like some of the other supporting characters too, particularly Jimmy (even if he was mostly laid up in a hospital bed) and Sergeant Kevin Sands. In fact all of the characters were bang on the money, even the bad guys, who were as loathsome, and occasionally stupid, as can be.
The pacing in the book varies as you may expect, from moments of high peril and adrenaline when a chase is on or a surveillance operation reaches its crucial stages. There are also some quieter moments, bit only just enough to allow readers to catch their breath. Certainly the ending is full of jeopardy and menace as the all the cards are finally laid out on the table. The book fair gallops to its conclusion and rounds off what is perhaps one of the most intriguing openers I have read in a while perfectly. It’s certainly made me keen to hear more from Gareth Bell and his colleagues so I look forward to seeing what comes next.