Today I’m sharing my thoughts on Bloody Foreigners, the third book in the Detective Low series by Neil Humphreys. True to form this is the first I have read – shocker. My thanks to publisher Muswell Press for the advance copy for review. Here’s what the book is all about:
About the Book
London is angry, divided, and obsessed with foreigners. A murdered Asian and some racist graffiti in Chinatown threaten to trigger the race war that the white supremacists of Make England Great Again have been hoping for. They just need a tipping point.
He arrives in the shape of Detective Inspector Stanley Low. Brilliant and bipolar. He hates everyone almost as much as he hates himself. Singapore doesn’t want him, and he doesn’t want to be in London. There are too many bad memories.
Low is plunged into a polarised city, where xenophobia and intolerance feed screaming echo chambers. His desperate race to find a far-right serial killer will lead him to charismatic Neo-Nazi leaders, incendiary radio hosts and Met Police officers who don’t appreciate the foreigner’s interference. As Low confronts the darkest corners of a racist soul, the Chinese detective is the the wrong face in the wrong place. But he’s the right copper for the job.
London is about to meet the bloody foreigner who won’t walk away.
This is the first time I have met Detective Inspector Low but he’s not a character I’m going to forget in a hurry. Cantankerous to the point of being obstructive, he has a kind of self destruct button, super-charged by way of bi-polar disorder, and linked to a very short fuse and one almighty explosion whenever he is set off. Not the kind to hold back in any way, he finds himself in the middle of a hate-crime investigation when a fellow Singapore national is murdered in a back street in London’s Chinatown. Now Low’s arrival in London may seem like uncanny timing, but his presence in the thick of the investigation is certainly the catalyst for what will become a very dark and deadly investigation.
Neil Humphreys has played a very canny game, using a very topical situation – hate crime and the rising intolerance towards immigrants that has been prevalent in the UK in recent (and not so recent) years, mixed in some of the anti-immigration and nostalgic rhetoric of Trumpism and brought forth a story which is almost too believable to be fiction. It is a damning social commentary on the most ardent of anti-immigration supports and their ilk (and we can all probably think of England’s current incarnation) but also a very clear look at the dangerous rise in racist language and intolerance that has gained to much of a global platform using social media.
But that makes it sound very dark, very sombre – very dry – and believe me when I say that this is far from that. Yes, the subject is highly topical. Yes, the subject is very divisive and Neil Humphreys has captured that most excellently with the two breakfast radio hosts, Beckett and Jones, two people whose opinions are as far removed from each other as you could ever hope to find. And don’t go expecting the usual gender and race stereotypes. Yes some of them are there, but then stereotypes are established for a reason. But not everything in this book is as you would expect. For all the darkness and the scenes which can be tense and emotional, there is a clear thread of humour and great characters who keep what could be a very dark story infused with a bright spark of lightness.
Characterisations are spot on. Low is the stand out character – obviously – and as much as he is seemingly unstructured, argumentative to the nth degree and definitely one to ignore the rulebook when it suits him, I really kind of liked him. He’s not portrayed as someone superhuman, and he most certainly has flaws, but he has a very astute mind and an ability to think faster and clearer than those around him. He definitely creates some of the humour in the book, but also some of the tension as you never know quite what he will do or how he will react. Then there are the UK Detectives, Mistry and Devonshire. Great characters in themselves, although Devonshire has more than a small amount of hatred towards Low, understandable when factoring in that the feeling is entirely mutual. Then we have Cook and Bishop, the PCs who provide a little of the comedy relief, although even they have the ability to surprise us. Each character is fully fleshed out, with a unique voice, although it is Make England Great Again movement leader, Billy Evans and his ‘disciples’ who will make your blood really boil. No redeeming qualities and everything that people despise about other far-right leaders. But is he depraved enough to commit murder?
This is a story of culture, class, race, religion and hate and everything in between. A fast paced, murder mystery set in the murky world of far-right politics, with one of the most memorable and gung-ho characters I’ve met. Hate the essence of the subject matter, enjoyed the book.
About the Author
Neil Humphreys grew up in Dagenham Essex. Now one of the best selling authors in Asia, a popular media columnist and broadcaster. He has published 17 books across many genres.