David Booker and Jo Cash are experiencing similar stuttering starts to their new lives on Romney Marsh when Rebecca Swaine turns up seeking help. Someone is demanding a lot of money from her husband and she wants to know why.
What do the dying words of one man - he made me - actually mean?
As the mystery unfolds people will come undone and reputations will be ruined before the answer becomes clear.
At the end of the day Mrs Swaine might end up wishing she’d let sleeping dogs lie…
This is the second instalment in the Booker & Cash series by Oliver Tidy and although I have a copy of Bad Sons, sadly I did not get the chance to read it before starting He Made Me. However, I am relieved that I do have it as I fully intend to go back and start at the beginning of the series! And, to any of you that have also not come across this author or series before, don't worry, I had no problems reading this as a stand alone.
In fact I thoroughly enjoyed every page of He Made Me.
I wasn't quite sure what to expect from this author, but what I really liked about this book was the engaging voice of David Booker and a narrative that told a good story; a story which although it is essentially a crime mystery, has a few echoes of something akin to Nick Hornby at times. Tidy has a created a character whose voice is appealing, friendly and humorous, but also able to create tension and suspense as the events surrounding the crime move towards the dramatic climax.
I hesitate to use the word "gentle" as that doesn't capture the atmosphere either but there is something less frenetic and intense in the style of this novel compared with other crime novels hitting the shelves at the moment. You won't be disappointed, there is plenty of drama, revelation, crime, complication and death in this novel and it moves at a good pace with short chapters that ensure you keep turning the pages, but I think what makes it stand out is that the characters who are hugely likeable. Booker's appreciation of the landscape and perhaps the fact that this book is set in the Romney Marshes rather than a city centre, create a different kind of atmosphere. I think perhaps the fact that Booker runs a bookshop and always makes time for a bacon roll appealed to me too!
I enjoyed reading a gripping, intriguing, intelligent crime novel that didn't leave me feeling completely battered and emotionally exhausted! Not that I don't enjoy that sort of novel too, but I was very taken with Tidy's style of prose and the characters of Booker and Cash. Booker and Cash felt like my friends, like people I might work alongside; very 'normal' and relatable. There is no angst ridden, dysfunctional aspect to either Booker or Cash and I really enjoyed their platonic relationship. I liked that Booker is our narrator but it is Jo Cash that leads the investigation and thought Booker's reference to him as a kind of Watson to Cash's Holmes very apt and fitting.
"What Jo and I had was an honest friendship borne out of our shared near-death experience and nurtured in the bosom of our recent companionship. We were equals but not partners."
I think by taking out any simmering attraction and placing them as equals who have a strong relationship both professionally and emotionally allows the reader to focus on the investigation and enjoy watching the friendship grow and develop without any distraction or contrived element of romance. I think this was really effective and successful. Booker and Cash make a great team.
The opening line for me, captures the style of the prose and gives a clear indication of the kind of tone and atmosphere of this engaging crime novel.
"Of all the coffee shops in all the seaside villages in the UK she had to walk into mine."
It really is one of those opening chapters that makes you sink back into your chair, take a deep swig of your tea and curl up for an engrossing read. As I have said before Booker (or Tidy!) has a engaging turn of phrase, a relaxed, informal prose which allows wry smiles and an appreciation of his use of description and imagery as well as spinning a good yarn.
The characters are all very believable and easy to picture. The use of dialogue is effective and convincing. As well as the people, the location is also a key character in this book and I really liked the setting of the Romney Marshes - forever famous in my mind from Great Expectations, but utilised here to emphasis and add tension and atmosphere. I liked the detailed description of places and towns like Dymchurch and the fact that the reader is so firmly rooted in such a specific location.
There's not much more to say other than that I recommend it and I am looking forward to going back to book one to see how Booker and Cash begin their partnership. Tidy's writing was very enjoyable and this is an easy read, very accessible, entertaining and full of twists and turns to satisfy any crime reader.
Huge thanks to Sarah Hardy for introducing me to this author and for inviting me along on the Blog Tour. I am really grateful to Bloodhound Books for the review copy of this novel and for introducing me to an author I might have otherwise missed out on discovering!
He Made Me is out on 12th June 2017 and published by Bloodhound Books.
Don't miss the other stops on the Blog Tour!
Oliver Tidy was born and bred on Romney Marsh, Kent. After a fairly aimless foray into adulthood and a number of unfulfilling jobs he went back to education and qualified as a primary school teacher.
A few years of having the life sucked out of him in the classroom encouraged Oliver abroad to teach English as a foreign language. The lifestyle provided him the time and opportunity to try his hand at writing.
Oliver's success as a self-published author has led to his Booker & Cash series of books, which are set mainly on Romney Marsh, being signed by Bloodhound Books.
Oliver is now back living on Romney Marsh and writing full time.
For more recommendations and reviews follow me on Twitter @KatherineSunde3 or via my website bibliomaniacuk.co.uk