Having enjoyed the first ‘Diary of a Retired Detective’, the second outing of Gary Farrow was a welcome return for the detective turned antiques dealer turned detective (as Mark Forster-Blythe would dryly comment, Gary doesn’t do the simple life).
This time, Gary is all at sea, chasing the fortunes of the glamorous Sabrina following the demise of her uncle, Vincent Colley. Gary hops aboard the nearest cruise ship to see where the inheritance is setting sail to, and to discover if death becomes murder most foul.
Much as with the first ‘Diary’, this is a why-dunnit more than a who-dunnit: the book doesn’t pretend to be something that it’s not, there are few red herrings and there’s no desire to confound the readers into oblivion, an irritating quality in some crime fiction. Instead, the focus is on the journey (quite literally) – finding out how Gary will solve the case and what the comeuppance will be is the biggest part of this novel, and it makes it something refreshingly different.
And, of course, where would this all be without the company of Mark, Gary’s trusted (and much beleaguered) sidekick, who finally gets the recognition he deserves, even if this is from strangers rather than his friend in need. The repartee between the two is the highlight of the book; I’m fairly confident I could read a book full of their day-to-day conversations and name it a hit. Not only are their witticisms and barbs entertaining, they’re hugely real; nothing feels forced, it’s a real relationship that helps to drive the plot towards its final destination.
There’s no doubt about it, setting sail with Gary is light, entertaining and intriguing. Forget the high seas, set sail for Amazon or Smashwords to download a copy!
A first publication for author Glyn Timmins, ‘From the Diary…’ is a collection of five short stories about a retired cop-turned-antiques dealer and his attempts to forge a new career but not quite being able to leave the
old one behind.
Our protagonist, Gary Farrow, is an incredibly likeable character, full of dry witticisms and interesting insights which make his discoveries and capabilities plausible and engaging to follow. Likewise, the reluctance and yet near-rubbernecking compliance of his friend and mentor, Mark Foster-Blythe, is incredibly entertaining, playing the role of sidekick well in order to add a unique twist on a budding bromance.
The stories are interwoven with emotional depth, tangible crimes and burgeoning descriptions which bring an element ofsophistication and intelligence to the situations Farrow finds himself in. My particular favourite was The Coffee Shop Conundrum, which was an ideal blend of witticism between the two friends and emotional depth to make you engaged with the characters’ situation.
The beauty of this collection is that it represents an antidote to modern crime fiction which feels the needs to lead you a merry dance before a (sometimes disappointing) conclusion, often without the degree of tangibility that Timmins provides through his former career as (surprise!) a police officer himself. These are light-hearted, enjoyable and cleverly-crafted stories, and show a level of success not often seen in first books. Bring on the next Farrow outings!