Reap The Whirlwind

Written by Mark Timlin

Review written by Ali Karim

Ali Karim was a Board Member of Bouchercon [The World Crime & Mystery Convention] and co-chaired programming for Bouchercon Raleigh, North Carolina in 2015. He is Assistant Editor of Shots eZine, British correspondent for The Rap Sheet and writes and reviews for many US magazines & Ezines.

Reap The Whirlwind
Crime & Mystery Club
RRP: £19.99
Released: November 10 2019

An unexpected Christmas gift arrives for Crime Fiction readers, for Mark Timlin’s signature detective Nick Sharman returns to the page when we all thought he was gone into the memories of days now passed. This new book proves us wrong, though it is actually a collection of five short stories, and a novella that gives this book its title.

It’s been awhile since we last met up with the troubled Sarf-London private-eye; though set in those days when Nick Sharman bumbled along in the 1990s, this new book is surprisingly fresh. Naturally there is a nostalgic appeal for readers familiar with Mark Timlin’s voice, that terse urgency of Sharman’s first-person narrative. There is a broader appeal to those yet to experience the world through those amoral eyes, and of that voice.

The eponymous novella, as well as the short stories are concise, judiciously edited with short chapters that act as a serious of vignettes. We get to meet up with some of the secondary characters that gave the Nick Sharman adventures [or more aptly put – misadventures] their unique style. And we laugh, chortle silently at some of the inappropriate observations.

Reap the Whirlwind starts the collection and acts a primer to bring readers back to that beat, the cynical outlook, the grey area of lives lived under neon, and under the cosh.

Sharman arrives with no fanfare and no explanation. He’s caught with stolen bank notes, while doing a little job for a solicitor named Martineau and finds himself back with the police. Or does he? For the line that separates the good guys from the bad [in Mark Timlin’s world] is so diffuse, it oozes, it bleeds. Sharman’s moral compass often needs re-alignment, but he doesn’t really care as at heart he’s a top-bloke, but one with flaws that reflect the world he inhabits.

In the course of trying to prove his innocence of those bank-notes, we are reminded of his daughter Laura, his ex-wife, the grimy boozers and cafes like Georgios but most importantly how [and why] Sharman left the Police, and became a PI. When it comes to contacts, we get to meet Detective Jack Robber and other memorable rogues.

Though a warning, there are unexpected turns like Murder at the Vicarage where Sharman leaves London and heads out on the A12 into East Anglia, taking his Silk Cuts into The Whale and Coffin, and gets enmeshed into a curious situation.

Before Quentin Tarantino and Stephen King made pop-culture references ubiquitous in their fiction, Mark Timlin was littering, or anchoring his work to what Nick Sharman saw around him. We get rock and soul music references, we get a little Lee Child, American Werewolf among the dodgy geezers, drugs, fried-egg sandwiches, take-away cuisine and monies owed to dangerous people.

Often compared to Chandler’s Philip Marlowe, Nick Sharman for my money is a British Spencer; that creation of Robert B Parker due to the terse and urgent nature of Timlin’s writing style. Though the observations from Sharman’s eye reflect those from Marlowe in terms of narrative; Timlin adds a damned fine story to augment the dry wit.

Highly recommended.

Many of us wish to read more of these terse tales of 1990s Great Britain, because Nick Sharman, and his first-person view of life is priceless.

Editor’s note: For readers unfamiliar with the work of Mark Timlin, click HERE

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