Wednesday, July 18, 2012

REVIEW: Weekend in Weighton / Terry Murphy

TITLE: Weekend in Weighton
AUTHOR: Terry Murphy
PUBLISHER: Self-Published
AVAILABILITY: Amazon US (Kindle e-book), Amazon UK (Kindle e-book)

Recommended for fans of murder mysteries, mafia thrillers, and black comedies—especially when all those things are rolled into one.


Weekend in Weighton is a murder mystery centering on Eddie Greene, a smart-mouthed private investigator who tangles with a crime boss while trying to find the killer. It combines the classic components of a whodunit (secretive pasts, multiple suspects, etc.) with the atmosphere of a mafia thriller, all while keeping its tongue firmly pressed into its cheek.

Fast-paced. Weekend in Weighton, as the title implies, takes place over the course of a few days as Eddie repeatedly finds himself in unfortunate situations. With all the moving pieces and twists, this book is hard to put down. There are some slower, more character-centric scenes that give the reader a break from the action, but Eddie’s engaging narrative keeps the story rolling forward.

First person past tense. The story is told from Eddie’s point of view, and with all his clever quips, it feels like you’re in a room with him, listening to him simultaneously boast and complain. At the same time, there are a few poignant moments in which Eddie, somewhat unintentionally, shows who he is behind all that smart-mouthing. This book contains a lot of dialogue and stays very close to the action, often feeling more like present tense than past.

Eddie Greene, or “Eddie G.,” as he likes to call himself, is a trash-talking 26-year-old who decided one day that he was going a private investigator. His first client, a middle-aged woman named Helen Porson, is murdered shortly after she hires him, and, as the first person on the scene, Eddie is considered a suspect. Unable to trust the cops, he begins his own investigation to clear his name and find the truth.

Weekend in Weighton opens with a punch—literally. After ignoring a crime boss’ warning to stay away from the Porson murder, Eddie finds himself at the mercy of a ruthless goon. The boss, Jimmy Cartwright, lets him live, presumably because he finds the young man’s antics amusing, on the condition that he stop his investigation. But no matter how dangerous the situation gets, no matter how many times he gets beaten up, Eddie keeps poking around. As Jimmy puts it, Eddie is a gambler playing with his life, and he always comes back for more.

Eddie’s first person narrative isn’t just full of sarcasm, it has mockery oozing out of its pores and forming a sheen of snarkiness over every scene. He seems incapable of taking anything seriously, even life-threatening situations or moments that should be emotional. His dry and sometimes inappropriate sense of humor infuriates the other characters, who want him to, as one character puts it, “skip the talky-talk and answer the question.” Whether describing a dead body or talking to his mother, Eddie continuously shoots off jokes in rapid-fire succession; his mouth is the AK-47 of one-liners.

But as more is revealed about his past, one comes to realize that his humor is a defense mechanism. At one point, Eddie admits that he doesn’t “do the emotion thing too well” and has trouble connecting with other people. In a rare moment of seriousness, he confesses his insecurities to an old flame, saying that he knows he’s a screw-up but is still trying to make something of himself, to do something that would make his father, a heroic cop who died years ago, proud.

As Eddie delves deeper and deeper into the mystery, he winds up tangling with Weighton’s criminal underworld, the fine-and-upstanding mayor, and a pair of scary strangers with the uncanny tendency to turn up wherever there’s trouble. But the more he learns, the more complicated things get. As he says, there are “so many inconsistencies: but which one was smoking hot? The one to rule them all, the one that in the darkness binds them? The one that tilted the truth in an unmistakeable direction?”

The search for the answer keeps Eddie moving and the pages turning. Murphy’s witty and free-flowing writing is like the breath of life, turning a fictional character into a real and believable person. The narrative somehow manages to keep the plot barreling forward while capturing the minute gestures of each conversation. The mystery keeps one intrigued, but it’s really Eddie that keeps one hooked. He’s far from perfect, and at times one wants to smack him upside the head. And yet behind the humor lies a sympathetic good guy who is instantly likeable and easy to root for.

Weekend in Weighton is a detective story with an attitude problem—a highly entertaining attitude problem. Funny, vivid, and exciting, it’s combination of clever dialogues, well-choreographed action scenes, and memorable characters make it an absorbing and enjoyable read.

Heads up to American readers—Weekend in Weighton uses British conventions when it comes to spelling and punctuation.

This book has been meticulously edited, and there are no typos.

There is no table of contents.

This book contains adult language and is not afraid of the “F” bomb. There are several violent scenes involving fistfights and a few guns, but no graphic or gory details.

Terry Murphy lives in Cheshire, England with his wife and children. He has been writing since, as he puts it, he could “jab a pencil at a piece of paper.”  

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  1. How many stars would you give this book out of 5

    1. Five! I don't do star ratings in general, since I think they don't tell the whole story, but I loved this book and readily gave it five stars on Amazon.