Danny Lancaster, the ex-paratrooper who was wounded in Afghanistan, is still operating as a private investigator in Brighton and there have been several books on his detective skills, all of them written by Bill Todd. However, this one involves a “novelette” as well as six short stories and is quite cleverly introduced in the form of an aspiring writer writing about a writer.
- Bill Todd
The first, and main, story, Gargoyle Pixie Dog, involves those who live on the streets of Brighton, though there is a little bit of foreign parts involved. Danny is asked by one of the rough sleepers to find a fellow spirit, a young lady named Cat, who has gone missing. Apparently, Cat is a pavement artist and Danny finds himself involving art dealers in order to try and analyse a sample of her pavement work which actually contains three clues. The plot thickens when a girl’s body is found on the beach and Danny involves one of his contacts in the local police to try and gain more information. Add in a small time crook of a boyfriend who has left the area to avoid a local drug dealer and Danny find quite a few problems which tend to confuse his search for the missing Cat.
The rest of the book consists of six relatively short stories in the following order.
The Cuckolds Calling involves Danny in the sort of case he tries to avoid, matrimonial disputes, but the fee offered is just a bit too much. However, he finds himself being caught up in a rather tangled web.
Selfie is a tale about Danny’s efforts to help a young girl who has been silly enough to allow a young man to take some rather personal photos. The young man has decided to share them online and the girl is terrified what will happen when her parents and teachers find out. It seems she is already being typecast by her peers but Danny manages to sort it out in one of his more unusual ways.
The Hoodied Man. A young student is about to try and commit suicide by jumping off a bridge when Danny notices him and finds himself involved with the student, whose girlfriend has been murdered. This forms yet another case for Danny because the main suspect could not have done it though the young student is adamant he did. There is a twist to this plot and Danny manages to solve it by dogged detective work, with the help of a police contact and a friend who works in store security.
The Germans Can’t Kill Me has Melody Hamilton worried that her father, a successful WW2 fighter pilot and latterly a local artist, died not die of natural causes. She cannot turn for advice to her mother or stepfather and contacts Danny to explain and, hopefully, investigate her suspicions. Needless to say, Danny takes on the case.
Inside Job. It seems to be a mundane job, being the security for a fashion design show but Danny finds himself playing detective when the prime exhibit, a very expensive diamond, is stolen under the noses of everyone and needs to be recovered before the media can report the fact.
Sudden Death involves more violence than the rest of the stories put together. A “retired” gangster calls on Danny to investigate why there has been an attempt on his life, all his old friends are being murdered, and his so-called business empire is being destroyed.
This is a book which is easy to read, ideal for flights, trains, holidays, or whenever relaxed enough to enjoy while pondering on just how Danny comes to meet some of these people, including Wanda. Some of the titles almost describe what is happening in each story but it is fun realising there is a pun involved.
I enjoy reading Bill Todd’s Danny Lancaster books but really wish centred passage dividers were used and that the editorial staff ensured the proof reading was done properly. Personally, I preferred his longer novels but it is still certainly worth reading.