Updated: Nov 12
Jon Morgan is a retired police Superintendent and francophile who, it is said, has consequently seen almost everything awful that people can do to each other. He relishes quality writing in all genres but advises particularly on police procedure for authors including John Harvey and Jon McGregor. Haunts bookshops both new and secondhand and stands with Erasmus: “When I have a little money, I buy books; and if I have any left, I may buy food and clothes.”
Here's what he had to say in SHOTS Magazine about SHAMUS DUST: HARD WINTER| COLD WAR| COOL MURDER
"Newman, an American PI, having blown in to London in 1929 has stayed, passing the war as a fraud investigator in the Army and is hired by a City Councillor to investigate a shooting near a property he owns (one of many), the victim, a low level blackmail facilitator and seedy photographer, being one of his tenants.
Through labyrinthine twists and turns and a series of further murders, Newman navigates his way through gangster infiltration into the City of London’s elite establishment; through its lower reaches, and forgotten homeless, and mentally scarred ex service personnel, via then illegal and dangerous, but nonetheless widespread same-sex liaisons, to the ‘old boy’ network, and encountering institutionalised and endemic police violence and corruption on the way. Funny how some things do not seem to change!
Solutions and pseudo-solutions are offered and debunked in the way of Chandler and the American 1930’s-50’s noir genre, but without pastiche, parody or pale imitation. This is an original and well-crafted work akin to an intellectual rollercoaster with an atmospheric background of sub-zero, winter temperatures, snow, destruction and of course fog!
I am not often given to hyperbole but this is the best crime novel I have read in an age. It is also a debut novel. It has everything: a Chandler-esque narrative set in the bomb scarred City of London in 1947; fantastically rich in period detail with links back to early-Roman London; the archaeology of the city and its post war reconstruction in a fervid atmosphere of blackmail; civic and police corruption as well as a steadily mounting body count.
I want more, much more of this hard-bitten, battered, bruised, and hugely cynical, but ultimately big-hearted PI and his humorous observations and sotto voce asides on human nature. I could quote some of the wonderful descriptive passages but will leave the new reader to discover and revel in them as I did.
Although not, apparently, widely trumpeted on publication, Shamus Dust was very well received by Christopher Fowler, and paraphrasing one of the book’s characters ‘if you know what is good for you’… you should read it too! Soon!"
This review was created by Jon Morgan and first published in January 2020 by Shots Crime & Thriller Magazine