A few pages in and I was ready not to like this book. Old-style thugs and wide boys, set in London in a world where the Krays were revered and has-been boxers flexed their muscles. But I was wrong.
A woman is taken as she drives her flat-mate's car. In what seems initially to be a case of mistaken identity, the owner of the car is the stripper mistress of an old millionaire criminal, so someone has it in for the violent tyke. Who is now a serious and legit businessman, of course.
The story is told through the eyes of one of the police officers, who balances his job with being a single dad of a little girl. He doesn't always play by the book, but he is nowhere near as bad as his boss, the Detective Chief Inspector who drinks too much and slaps suspects a fair amount. Not really helping with community relations in the rundown areas of London.
The book ambles along for a few chapters, recalling the old days, the habits of those who live in the area, the underbelly of society that includes drugs, strippers and illegal activities. Despite this part not being gripping in the least, the most annoying and distracting aspect is the American idiom with phrases such as strip joint, butt, drive gear, sidewalk among others. As the author seems to know London well (a great trip through Highgate Cemetery convinced me) I wonder if he spends too much time watching American cop shows.
After this, however, the tale pushes along at a good pace. I didn't guess the events as they unfolded and when the soppy family time chapter came along I thought it was the end of the book. Not so. There were a couple of loose ends to tie up.
Parsons is a great storyteller although I 'm not sure how that DCI got away with her M.O.
#Taken is published by Century (Penguin Random House Group) May 2019. Advanced review copy supplied by the publisher.