Standstill by J.A. Marley (Bloodhound Books)

It is always with some trepidation that I open a book by someone I know and like.  More usually with a début (but not always) I’m terrified that I won’t enjoy it, worried that it’s mediocre or I won’t be interested by the plot or feeling murderous that it is so good!

Standstill fits into the last category. The narrative grabs you from the opening paragraph and doesn’t let you go until its – literally – explosive dénouement.

I always try to avoid synopses in reviews and hate spoilers so suffice it to say that if you enjoy action-packed, hard-hitting crime fiction, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed with Standstill.

Set in London the action revolves around Flying Squad officer Chance who is grappling with the heartbreaking situation of watching her young daughter dying of cancer; Harkness one of the nastiest characters you’d never want to cross; and Danny the engaging and accomplished thief who finds himself caught up in a scam that will take every ounce of his ingenuity to escape. Other characters are well drawn and complement the action.

Standstill is perfectly plotted throughout the narrative aided by dialogue, which is realistic and never superfluous. There is no spare fat in this novel.

J.A. Marley has produced an excellent opener for what I hope with be the first in a long series.

Highly recommended.

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