Complicity by Nick Quantrill 
Reviewed by Steve Rudd


“The rain refused to ease as Coleman made his way through Queens Gardens and on towards King Edward Street. He pulled his collar up and hurried his pace…”

This is a staggeringly enthralling showcase for Hull-based writer Nick Quantrill’s unmistakable talent for writing fiction… and Crime fiction, to be more precise.

He has written a fair few short stories that revolve around crime at their hub. What’s more, the majority of the novellas that he has so far produced are actually set in Hull… not to necessarily imply that the city is plagued by levels of crime that are any worse than anywhere else.

Nick clearly knows his city like the back of his hand (he is a born & bred Hull man when all is said and done), as the main character in Complicity - Detective Sergeant Coleman – finds himself being dragged back and forth across the city at Nick’s command. Coleman carries the story as he simultaneously investigates a couple of crimes that are giving the city a bad name, not least when a young girl called Laura Fry has just died as the result of drugs in a nightclub.
It’s Coleman’s job to sniff around and ask questions in order to try and find out who might have supplied her with the fatal tablet. He’s also on the case of a local property developer who might be somehow linked with a murder, and it’s always a great thrill when the plot of Complicity thickens accordingly.

Nick has nailed the art of leaving awesome cliff-hangers at the tail-end of each short-but-sharp chapter, and because his stories are novellas, the tension is racked to the extreme. There’s certainly no time wasted in getting immersed in the action, yet Nick is also great at creating pivotal moments of suspense-packed drama, especially when his coffee-obsessed character in Coleman gets down to interrogating suspects.

I can only assume that Nick is a huge fan of reading Crime-Drama given the small details that feature in his work. He seems thoroughly familiar with the ins-and-outs of police procedures.
From a drug-dealing scene down Hull’s Dagger Lane to a meeting with a low-life in a high-place at the vast KC stadium (“Coleman got out of McCormack’s car and looked up. The eerie silence of the non-match-day stadium made it seem all the more imposing and magnificent…”), Nick has a knack of pitting genuinely interesting people in well-known places (at least to those people with a working knowledge of Hull’s environs) via a whole host of riveting scenarios.

Some readers might even be reminded of the way in which Ian Rankin claws his way under the dark and dirty skin of the Edinburgh underworld in his novels. And, bearing in mind that even some of the greatest writers in the world often claim that it’s more difficult to write a short story than it is a full-blown novel, it’s a true testament to Nick’s talents that he retains his focus on the plot at all times.

All loose ends are cleverly entwined and tied up, and the surprise ending of Complicity shoots out of nowhere in true style.

Indeed, come the end of this breathtaking exercise in Crime writing, the reader – nine times out of ten, if not more – will be gagging to hear all about a great deal more of Coleman’s exploits. Luckily for them, they can, as though the spirit of Inspector Maigret creator, Georges Simenon, is alive and kicking in Mr. Quantrill.

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