Thursday, 6 November 2014

Guest Review: Debbie Johnson - Fear No Evil

Reviewed by Jane Willis

The dead don't like to be ignored… 

Jayne McCartney, Liverpool's only female private eye, is soon to get a crash course in this and other ghost-related facts. 

Until now she’s kept her snooping firmly to the dodgy, sometimes dangerous – but definitely human – Liverpool underworld. But that all changes when an elderly couple approach her with a terrifying story… 

Their daughter, a 19-year-old student, died falling from her halls’ window. But she didn't jump, they insist – she was pushed. By a ghost.

Who or what is walking the halls of Hart House? And will this case end up haunting Jayne forever…?

Amazon link: Kindle

I like a book where the first paragraph gets me totally hooked,  and in the first paragraph of “Fear no Evil” by Debbie Johnson, there is humour, swearing and cross dressing. How could anybody NOT want to know where all that was leading? And the appearance of a body within the first few pages leaves you in no doubt that this is going to be a thrilling read.

The main character is Jayne McCartney, a Liverpool based private detective who is thoroughly fed up with people “wittily” asking her if she is any relation to Sir Paul. When her investigation of the death we’ve had a teaser of in the prologue leads her to team up with ex-priest Dan Lennon, I expected the jokes about it to be done to death, but Debbie Johnson cleverly leaves the reader to make up their own jokes and gets on with the story.

And what a story it is! Set in Liverpool, all the typical Scouse characters feature – the gangland leader and his entourage, the huge, close knit Catholic family of Irish descent who love to party, the posh executive with his designer flat, the student who lives on tinned soup and of course the booze-soaked journalists. I was brought up a few miles from Liverpool and recognised all these characters immediately, and yet in this book they come to life as real people and not as caricatures of their types.

It is clear, right from the start, that this is a ghost story, and yet the clever introduction of rational explanations for many of the incidents made me think that it was going to turn out to be like an old Scooby-Doo cartoon, where in the end the ghost turns out to be simply the baddie with a white sheet over his head. I’ll leave you to read the book and find out for yourself whether or not this happens……

Although the book is, in places, very scary and at times extremely emotional, all the way through it is tempered with humour, in a way that is very typical of the Scouse friends I remember from childhood, who could find humour in almost any situation, however dark it seemed. Johnson obviously knows the people she is writing about very well indeed. The humour makes even the more harrowing parts of the book a real pleasure to read.

I read this book in the form of a free Kindle download, but I enjoyed it so much that I’m going to be buying Debbie Johnson’s other books – it was a real page-turner (if you can use that phrase about a Kindle) that meant I was glued to it from start to finish, and even now I’ve finished I keep going back to it to see if  there are any clues I should have spotted.

I'd like to thank Jane for her fab review of this eBook for the blog.

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