*I received a free copy of this book with thanks to the author and Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources blog tours. The decision to review and my opinions are my own.*
Blurb: Blacklisted by the police. Being sued by a client. And broke. Things can’t get any worse for Brighton’s No.1 Private Detective, Joe Grabarz, in this blistering debut novel from award-winning writer Tom Trott.
That’s when his best friend’s body washes up on the beach.
Could it really have been ten years? What happened? How could his life have ended like this? He needs answers.
But with the city in the grips of organised crime, and struggling to deal with an influx of legal highs, who cares about just another dead drug dealer? Joe, that’s who. After all, you can’t make old friends.
Warning: this book contains adult language, sex and drug references, and violence (basically, all the good stuff).
Think Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files, minus the supernatural elements, and you have Joe Grabarz – smartarse Brighton detective with a knack for pissing people off.
This is gritty detective noir with a side of snark to leaven the drugs and violence. The mashup of Sam Spade with a UK seaside town setting reminded me of Malcolm Pryce’s Aberystwyth series, but where Pryce’s plots resound with the ridiculous, Trott plays it straight and offers a well-constructed murder mystery for his unpopular (with other characters… I loved him!) investigator to solve.
Some of the details of murder and torture are quite graphic and there is some strong language, so I wouldn’t recommend this for younger readers or the overly sensitive. However both violence and language are contextually appropriate rather than gratuitous and contribute towards the dichotomy of the darkness of organised crime running through Brighton like obscene writing through a stick of cheery seaside rock.
Our main character, Grabarz, is interesting. Clearly he has a past, which is mostly alluded to and little explained, and morally he seems to swim in pretty grey waters as he straddles the line between illegal and immoral, slicing those distinctions ever thinner. One of the other characters sums him up as a ‘good man, but not a nice man’ (paraphrased) and I don’t think I could put it better than that.
There are a few unexpected twists and turns along the way, and whilst the case Joe is working in this book reaches a conclusion, there are still questions and mysteries remaining that lead intriguingly into the next book in the series… which I will be back to review on 16th February! Watch this space…
‘Are the handcuffs really necessary?’ I asked.
‘No,’ one of them replied wittily.
‘That’s just your thing is it?’
‘Shut up, Grabarz.’
‘Hey, I’m not judging. I like the kinky stuff too. I’d just rather you asked permission first.’
‘You better shut up before we pull the car over.’
‘And do what? Not take me to the police station? I’m shaking with terror.’
– Tom Trott, You Can’t Make Old Friends
You Can’t Make Old Friends is available on Amazon right now.
Don’t forget to check out the other blog stops on the tour (poster below) for more great content and reviews, and pop back here on 16th and 21st February to find out my thoughts on Books 2 and 3 in this series!