A guest review by Jenre
Paul Maloney, a small-time private investigator from London, reluctantly accepts a case from his married ex-lover, Dominic Allen. Before he knows it, Paul finds himself embroiled in the dark dealings of big business and the sordid world of international crime. The deeper he pushes, the closer he comes to losing everything he holds dear.
Can he solve the mystery and protect those he loves before it’s too late?
Maloney’s Law is the book previous to The Bones of Summer which I reviewed on this blog here. One of the frustrations I had about The Bones of Summer is that I never really understood the character of Paul Maloney. He seemed such a private person and yet also had baffling mood swings. I now realise that many of my questions would have been answered if I had read Maloney’s Law first.
The book is taken from the first person point of view of small time private investigator Paul. At the beginning we learn several things about this complex man. Firstly he had an affair and fell in love with a married man, Dominic, three years before the start of the book, which ended badly leaving Paul broken hearted. This led to Paul having a nervous breakdown. Secondly, he has a long term friendship with his assistant Jade, who helped him through his breakdown and thirdly that he has an uncanny ability to keep track of dates, almost down to the hour:
As he’s the last man I’ve slept with, it must be three years, four months, and one week since I had sex at all. At least with someone else in the room. I wonder if that makes me unusual.
Dominic has called Paul out of the blue and asked him to take on a case for his company. Dominic owns a very successful IT company and he is thinking of merging with another company based in Egypt. He wants Paul to discover if there is anything underhand going on that would affect the merger. On the surface this seems like a simple job. Paul needs to do a bit of digging, travel to Cairo and dig some more and then bring a report back to Dominic. However, things hot up when firstly a dead woman turns up outside Dominic’s offices and then Paul is threatened and an attempt is made on his life whilst staying in Cairo.
I said earlier that Paul is an complex character. In fact it’s difficult to put down in words all the various aspects of Paul’s character. He’s a man who is very much alone in his life. He never sees his father (for reasons I won’t go into here as it would be spoilerish) and so the relationship with his mother is strained; he hasn’t had a lover since Dominic; and he spends his time either working or alone in his house. His only friend is Jade and theirs is a delightful friendship full of love and laughter. They have an affection for each other which is shown in the way they joke with one another or share information and it is obvious that Paul holds Jade in deep regard. Jade’s family also welcome Paul even if Jade’s parents are a little perturbed over the exact nature of their friendship. Alongside Paul’s relationships (or lack thereof) is his emotional state which seems to constantly hang in the balance. He spends most of the book barely holding onto his emotions, fighting to keep an impassive front in the face of the return of Dominic into his life and the wonderful/terrible memories that brings. When something happens to tip that status quo, Paul is unable to cope and goes into an emotional meltdown which was entirely in keeping with what I would have expected from his behaviour at the beginning of the book.
However, my favourite part of Paul’s character were the little quirks given to him by the author. I’ve already mentioned the date keeping, but there were other things as well. Paul’s love of whisky and the way he ruthlessly rations it out (hinting that he may once have had a serious problem with alcohol) is another great quirk sending him into rhapsodies of eloquence when he finally succumbs and drinks some:
Last of all is The Macallan, rarely opened, its rich toffee glow hinting of secrets not yet understood, not yet known. Yes, this is the one. As I release it, the smell of new leather and dark Spanish sherry settles around me, and I pour a double measure, more, into my waiting glass. The golden liquid swings round, marking its place, waiting for me, calling.
He also has a number of amusing ‘PI rules’ which he brings out every so often, usually when he has broken one of them “Second rule of PI work: don’t employ someone who’s moral”.
The story itself is a breathtaking ride from start to finish. Paul’s tenacity leads him further and further into danger as he uncovers clues leading to the death of the young woman and the connection to her and the company Dominic wants investigating. Along the way there is action, excitement, tragedy, betrayal, pain and heartbreak until Paul is the only thing standing between corruption and justice. Not only does Paul have to face up to some of his greatest fears he also makes discoveries about those he loves the most. By the end of the book Paul has been put thoroughly through the wringer – as has the reader – and had his world turned completely upside down. It’s no wonder then that he seemed so distant and so unwilling to get involved with Craig’s problems in The Bones of Summer which is set only a few months after the end of this book.
I feel that I ought to point out that whilst there is some sex in this book, it is not a romance. There is hope though, especially as Paul meets Craig towards the end of the book. Maloney’s Law is a mystery, and a great one at that which kept me guessing right to the end, but not romance.
Once again Anne Brooke has produced a book which is high in emotional intensity and yet never strays into hysteria. Her descriptions of setting, character and situation all combine to make Maloney’s Law into an unforgettable read. I highly recommend that you read this book – preferably before The Bones of Summer – as you won’t be disappointed.
This book was reissued by a new publisher – Amber Allure so all the links have been updated.