Review: Asbury Park

By Rob Scott

Gollancz, out now

Recovering from the fallout from his last case, Sailor Doyle is desperate to stay on the straight and narrow, but something has other plans for this vulnerable cop…

Suspended detective Sailor Doyle isn’t the easiest of characters to spend a book with – his addiction problems, self-pity and general willingness to cross a line that some of the time he isn’t aware is even there all combine to guarantee that there are times you want to grab him by the throat and shake some sense into him. But there’s no denying that he makes a compelling narrator for this story that begins as a moderately straightforward criminal case, and descends into a realm of torment and haunting.

Don’t read the back cover copy if you want to retain some surprises: some of the description given spoils plot developments up to two-thirds of the way through the book, and removes some of the pleasure of putting the various pieces together yourself, sometimes ahead of Doyle. His Oxy-contin affected brain can sometimes make connections that ordinary mortals can’t – and at the same times misses the blindingly obvious. It makes him an intriguing version of an unreliable narrator.

You don’t need to have read Doyle’s first appearance, 15 Miles; this is a self-contained tale of revenge, horror and the lengths that parents will go to in order to care for their children, no matter their age. It’s also a tale of descent and redemption (in some cases literally), and a chilling ghost story.

Verdict: One for those who like their crime fiction to have a supernatural edge – or their ghost stories to have a good grounding in reality.  7/10

Paul Simpson

Click here to buy Asbury Park from Amazon.co.uk

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