Old Gold by Jay Stringer
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer/July 24th, 2012
Former cop Eoin Miller is good at finding people. He’s fresh off the tail of a someone that owes a dangerous man money when he sees Mary for the first time, nursing a vodka at the local pub. Drawn to her immediately, he finds out that Mary thinks that someone is trying to kill her. Mary goes home with Eoin, and after a night of, well, sleep (him on the couch downstairs, and her upstairs), he wakes up to find her dead, strangled with his tie, with needle tracks in her arm. There’s no sign of a needle, which just compounds the fact that a stranger has been in his home, and murdered Mary. Instead of going to the police, however, Eoin flees, holing up in a flat owned by the Mann brothers and sets out to find out who killed Mary, because he knows that if he doesn’t, he’ll surely be framed for her murder. Not only that, but Eoin just hates a mystery. It also doesn’t help matters that a good friend from the police force is breathing down his neck to find the missing son of one of the brass. Yep, Eoin Miller has a lot piled on his plate, and the pile is about to get higher.
Eoin Miller is a rolling stone, picking up trouble wherever he goes. Seriously, the man has a nose for liars, two rival drug families on his back, and a body following him around. The man is like a Timex. You know, takes a lickin’, etc… Like I said, he can’t stand a mystery, and his need to solve it is even stronger than the lure of the pub, or the increasing lure of his ex-wife, who happens to be a cop on her way up. Luckily, he’s still got an in at the police, even though his Gypsy blood was a constant bane to him while on the force, but motives seem to be increasingly contradictory, and the body count is growing. As he navigates the politics of two powerful families that each want a piece of him, and chases his suspicions and mounting clues, he also has to deal with some powerful demons of his own. Leaving the force and the failure of his marriage have taken a toll, and although his heart is in the right place, his head often isn’t. He’s spent his life as an outsider, and it’s perhaps because of this that so many people just to the left of the law, especially at risk kids, seem to trust him, and this will come in handy. Eoin Miller is my kind of hero, firmly in the grey, but with a heart of, well, gold, and maybe just a tad too much trust to give. I like his vulnerability, though, and his melancholy. It makes things even more heart wrenching when people and situations go south, and boy, do they. There were about a dozen times when I thought I knew where things were going here, and I was wrong just about every time. Eoin may be vulnerable, but you really shouldn’t underestimate him. His sharp mind and brash tendencies carry him through some pretty sticky situations, and the violence he inflicts is never casual, although plenty of casual violence is inflicted on him. There’s a jaw dropper of a twist in this one, and it sneaks up on you, as the best twists do. This is a helluva good book and a helluva debut. I can’t wait for the next one!