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Garner, Seth - 'Broken Surface'
Hardback: 224 pages (Aug. 2006) Publisher: Robert Hale Ltd ISBN: 0709081472

I read a lot of mystery books but the really high class ones are very few and far between. This is one is those rarities.

This fast psychological mystery story is unusually set in the hard paced world of advertising agencies (an area in which the author has direct experience). The book is written in very short chapters and is highly enjoyable.

Duncan Kelly is the co-founder and new Business Director of Holt, Fulton, Powell & Kelly (HFP & K) and the new agency has not attracted much new business over the previous three months and has suffered badly. The agency is in danger of being taken over by a larger competitor who has lent money and owns a sizeable portion of stock, unless the partners can take on a sizeable new account that will give them fresh income.

Suddenly, the partners hear that their colleague, Ann Powell, the third named partner and the only female director had been murdered during the weekend.

When Duncan Kelly was a teenager he and a friend Richard killed an educationally sub normal fellow teenager and hid his body in a pond instead of reporting it and they conspired to conceal the terrible secret over the following years.

Psychopathic Richard starts applying ruthless pressure to Duncan in order to gain financial advantage at HFP & K by threatening to reveal their dark mutual secret. Duncan is worried about the effect of all this on the successful family and business life he enjoys. He is also troubled how the police (who are currently investigating the killing of Ann) will view this new information.

The story leads on to many different avenues before heading to a dramatic conclusion. Throughout it is told in the first person by Duncan. A refreshingly old fashioned approach to telling a story rather than the usual chopping and changing between different characters and the utter confusion this may cause to the reader who may not be able to read it in large chunks.

This is only the second novel by this new talented writer and I look forward to reading his future books.

Terry Halligan, England
April 2007

last updated 15/04/2007 15:19