I remember when I first saw the covers of Tom Trott’s Brighton’s No. 1 Private Detective series, I was totally blown away cover artist Thomas Walker’s work. These are not the sort of gems you see on self-published books.
When the opportunity came to participated in a blog tour of Trott’s series, I could not pass it up. My gut feel was if a self-published writer went to the such lengths to produce such a good looking book, well, the prose couldn’t be that bad. Yes, I was judging a book by its cover.
The story opens with Joe Grabarz, a private eye barely making a living in the seaside city of Brighton, England, waking up in his office smelling of another night of drinking. Even though the local police considered Grabarza a person non grata, a friendly cop calls him in to look at a murder scene. Before Grabarz is pushed behind the blue and white crime scene tape, he recognized the body of his childhood friend. And, like all good crime stories, things go pear-shaped from there.
There are a few first-book problems with “You Can’t Make Old Friends” such as awkwardly drifting from first-person point of view to third-person and back again. Grabaz is out of place in today’s world as he lives his life with the ’40s sensibilities of the hard-boiled private dick. But the writing, man, some of the writing in “You Can’t Make Old Friends” is great and that allows me to forgive some of Trott’s rookie mistakes. This description of Brighton’s sister city Hove blew me away.
Well, imagine a beautiful woman. Gorgeous. Cultured. Everybody loves her. And she’s fun too, a bit too much fun sometimes, if you know what I mean. Well, if you can imagine her, then Hove is her perpetually disapproving younger sister. The sort of woman who when mistaken for her sister, “You’re Nancy, aren’t you?” would reply, “Deborah, actually.” And it’s that “actually” that sums up Hove.
“You Can’t Make Old Friends” isn’t the perfect book, but Trott shows that he’s got the chops. I’m intrigued to read the next two books of the series.