Written by Tony J Forder — Published by indie outfit Bloodhound books, Scream Blue Murder is the third novel this year by new author Tony J Forder. An action thriller, it features the bad tempered protagonist Mike Lynch. He’s your average guy out on the road for business who ends up getting drawn into extraordinary events simply by being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
On the way home Lynch suffers a flat tyre, then there’s a heavy rain storm. It late and he’s tired so he pulls into a parking area somewhere off the M5 motorway to get some sleep and take a leak. That’s when things go from bad to worse because Lynch sees a man kneeling on the ground with a gun pressed to the back of his head by another man standing above. A shot rings out and the kneeling man crumples to the floor. But the shooter spots Lynch and takes aim, Lynch runs.
Lynch needs to get far away and fast. He can’t reach his own car though. He sees a BMW parked nearby and gets inside. The keys are in the ignition. He drives off and manages to evade the killer. He pulls off the road to calm down. What will he do? He can’t call the police, all is stuff, including his mobile, are in his car miles away. It’s only then he realises he’s not alone in the car. Squashed down in the rear seats are a woman and a child. It transpires the woman, called Melissa, is nanny to Charlotte. Melissa claims they were on a journey back from Devon to London and she was asleep when Charlotte’s father pulled into the rest area, got out and ended up dead. She’s no idea why.
Lynch gets driving again, they need to find somewhere to sleep. He heads to the Wiltshire town of Chippenham and finds a hotel. In their room Lynch flicks on the television and there’s a report about the murder. That’s when reality really hits home because the dead man is none other than Ray Dawson, a serious criminal. Lynch is furious with Melissa because she kept this from him. But things go from bad to worse because then Lynch is named in connection with the case by the cop leading the investigation, DI Hendricks. Then Lynch recognises one of the people on TV as the person who shot Dawson…
‘Quick’ is the ideal word to describe Scream Blue Murder. It’s a high paced crime thriller with a racy narrative and plenty of descriptive elements. Mechanically it is a mix of first person (Lynch) and third person (from several perspectives) giving the author an opportunity to explore that story from several angles while revealing twists to us while keeping them from the protagonist. Lynch himself is interesting – grumpy and bad tempered he’s hardly a people person. So, being thrown together with Melissa and Charlie – he doesn’t like children – isn’t his idea of heaven.
Lynch’s ordinariness is a bit of a weakness, overall. Yes, the majority of us would consider ourselves ‘normal’ but largely we want to read about the extraordinary. And Lynch’s grumpiness gets slightly wearing. He threatens to leave Melissa and Charlie – a boy who has just lost is father, remember – on their own quite early on. Hardly the sort of behaviour to warm to. That aside, Scream Blue Murder is a decent read with plenty of action and entertainment value.
For more action thrillers try Deep Down Dead by Steph Broadribb or Lee Child’s latest, The Midnight Line.
CFL Rating: 3 Stars