Joseph Tremaine ‘JT’ Ellington is a Barbadian immigrant living in 1960s Bristol; he’s gone from enforcing the law in Barbados to being treated with contempt and suspicion by the law enforcers in a racist Britain. Broke and on the verge of being kicked out by his Landlord, the local mogul Earl Linney calls upon JT’s services to track down a missing West Indian girl who is both deaf and mute.
What follows is JT entering a world of criminals and prostitutes where corruption reigns supreme. JT has been ordered to find answers but the more answers he looks for regarding the missing the girl, the more questions and dangers he faces from both the white and West Indian community.
M.P Wright’s debut is everything you want from a crime novel; it is stylish and cool but it never loses its gritty edge. The underworld that Wright presents to us is not glamorised but described with an unapologetic realism; the criminals are not the sleek smooth characters that Hollywood would so happily have us believe, but remorseless men hardened by society, and the prostitutes are tragic figures riddled with infections facing an inevitable early death which will be given to them by a punter or their pimp.
JT’s past which haunts him throughout the novel risked turning the story into a cliché of the troubled detective trying to solve a mystery in the midst of attempting to come to terms with his past. However, this part of the story is cleverly woven into the plot and the desire for the reader to discover what resulted in JT being a fallen cop from grace and the source of his broken heart is just as strong as the desire to find out what happened to the missing girl that he is searching for.
What makes Wright’s novel stand apart from other books of the same genre is his ability to capture the mood of a scene perfectly and elicit the correct response from the reader. Whether you are chuckling out loud at his clever use of humour or stiffening in your seat as the tension builds and plot thickens, Wright has mastered the exceptionally difficult technique of being able to control how the reader reacts making this book an utter joy of a debut.
M.P Wright’a debut novel published by Black and White will be release in paperback on 1 July 2014 at £7.99.