Set primarily in 1990s Manchester, this is British, urban, gritty crime writing at its best. The story begins with a nameless protagonist leaving Strangeways prison after serving a term for attempted robbery. His sentence was extended for possession of a quantity of heroin - something which he would never touch - and he is keen to know who has fitted him up and why. Very quickly we are drawn into a hardboiled criminal underworld as he investigates, calling on contacts from both sides of the fence. Things go rapidly from bad to worse; he finds his ex-wife and two kids have been scared into moving house and discovers his nephew, apparently now a small-time heroin dealer, has been shot dead.With his old friend and co-conspirator (and ex-wife's new lover) Leon as his only ally, our anti-hero must discover who has laid out this ever-tightening net and strike fast, hard and pre-emptively if he is to avoid losing everything and everyone he holds dear. "Last Straight Face" is a complex and tightly plotted thriller, tough, realistic, cynical and utterly gripping to the very last page.
June 2008 : UK Paperback