Friday, May 31, 2013

The First Cut is the Deepest, by Martin Edwards

I've been following Martin Edwards' excellent crime fiction blog, Do You Write Under Your Own Name? for several years now, so there's really no excuse for  my not having read one of his mystery novels, especially since I've owned a couple of them for awhile now. That failing has now  been corrected.

The First Cut is the Deepest is the seventh in Edwards' Harry Devlin series, and though it does contain some spoilers for earlier books in the series, there is nothing that will confuse you about its storyline. Devlin has gotten in up to his neck in a compulsive affair with a woman who happens to be married to a big time criminal. Despite his very reasonable fear of Casper May, he still finds himself going out on a stormy night for a rendezvous with Casper's wife Juliet at a cottage her secretary is graciously letting them use.

Yes, it's a bad idea. A couple of catastrophes happen immediately, one of which is murder. I'll leave the  subsequent plot developments for you to discover yourself.

The whodunit aspect of the book was sufficiently complex to keep me guessing--and I made quite a few wrong guesses, which is always good. What I particularly enjoyed about the novel, though, was Edwards' use of his own background (and I believe, actually, foreground) as a solicitor to create an interesting milieu. Devlin has few illusions about the law, and those few he may still cherish are rapidly punctured by one of the various other lawyers who populate this book. He also has few illusions about himself-- he's self-deprecating about his lawyerly skills, and puts down his penchant for crime-solving to being a bit of a nosey parker.

If you spend any time reading his blog, you will soon realize what a gracious and kindly soul Martin Edwards is, so it's actually reassuring to see Harry Devlin, who must be in some sense Martin's alter ego, be a bit jaded and cynical as he goes about his rounds.

More like the rest of us, in fact.

Another aspect of the book that I found quite interesting was its Liverpudlian backdrop. I have been to Liverpool once, many years ago, and despite its four most famous sons, found it a bit depressing, with its still bombed out buildings from WWII, and the fact that, despite its large Irish population, St. Patrick's Day found no one in the mood for celebrating. But with a couple more Harry Devlin books under my belt, I might actually consider another visit. Certainly this novel uses a fascinating aspect of Liverpool's history as a crucial part of the story.

As probably everybody but me knows, "The First Cut is the Deepest" is a well known Cat Stevens song. The story makes mention of a version earlier than Rod Stewart's, and even earlier than Steven's own first recording,  and I thought I would seek it out. I'm sorry that you will probably have to put up with a commercial for a few seconds, but it's worth it.


No comments:

Post a Comment