Updated: Nov 12
Shamus Dust is brilliantly set in post-WWII London. The author creates such a dense historic atmosphere that I felt transported into that time from the very first lines. Janet perfectly captures the city and its people’s struggle of rebuilding their lives despite the war’s social and psychological consequences.
The novel is by all accounts a crime fiction, but the setting behind the plot is so thick with various themes that it can be interpreted on multiple levels. I, for example, enjoyed the social strata of the novel. I couldn’t help relating to characters and the horrific conditions they were trying to surpass.
The plot’s idea is fairly simple, but the mechanism behind it is undoubtedly complex. Although it seems a basic crime investigation, an intricate web of deceit and intrigue constantly complicates the case. I couldn’t point out the culprit because new reveals would muddle up everything. I consider this a clear sign of crime fiction properly done.
Newman is the private investigator charged by the city councilor to solve a crime. He portrays the classic noir fiction character type with his stoicism, skepticism, and wit. He wants things solved and will stop at nothing to see it done.
Challenged and undervalued by the councilor, Newman accepts no failure on his part and does everything to solve the case. Everyone becomes a suspect and he starts weaving thread after thread between them until he gets to the motive and culprit. And it’s far more complex than anything I would have anticipated.
The plot thickens to the point where Newman stands against everyone, with few chances of setting things right. And escaping with his life. It’s quite literally him against the world. But his moral compass and professional ethic dictate that he forsakes himself and expose the grand scheme behind the murders. Justice must prevail in all crime novels, after all.
Shamus Dust is a complex novel brimming with intrigue, deceit, post-war opportunism and conspiracy. Reminiscent of Raymond Chandler and old-school noir, the novel delves into multiple themes such as moral decay, social burden, and ruthless individualism.
It might be considered a study of human nature in testing conditions, revealing everything people can do to survive and prosper. Even at the others’ expense. While war heightens a sense of community in some people, it brings out the egoism in others.
This is the beauty of the book. You can read Shamus Dust and focus on much more than just a murder mystery. You can interpret it however you want. It reveals a brilliant mind who orchestrated everything in a very complex manner. To be honest, it’s bewildering to know that it’s the author’s first novel.
This review of Shamus Dust by Janet Roger was first published by Book Reiew Hub - 09 November 2019 https://bookreviewhub.com/shamus-dust/