1970, St Pauls, Bristol. A new decade and JT Ellington is determined it will be a quiet one. He’s stepped away from the private-eye game to scratch a living, respectable at last, as a school caretaker. Still, his nights are full of torment – guilt and ghosts that no prayers will banish but it’s not until the past comes calling in the unwelcome form of Superintendent Fletcher that JT’s resolve is truly tested.

Fletcher has a job for JT – and the hard-nosed cop can’t be refused. A young man, Nikhil Suresh, has disappeared hours before his wedding; rumours abound and his family is distraught. JT is to investigate.

With what feels like blood money in his pocket, JT is plunged deep into a demi-monde of vice, violence and forbidden passion. An extraordinary, malevolent enemy is intent on destroying him. Now – seeking survival and redemption – JT must play as dirty and dangerous as those who want him dead.

So states the publisher’s ‘blurb’ about this quality read, and now for my personal thoughts on this dark threatening intriguing tale.

This is the fourth book in the Joseph Tremaine Ellington series and, according to the author’s acknowledgements, the last for the foreseeable future. The first question, as this is the first book I have read by this author, is does it work as a standalone novel? Yes, but there are numerous references and characters from earlier books, certainly far more than I would usually expect, but that did not in any way spoil my enjoyment of this story. No, on the contrary, it just raised my interest in hunting down copies of the previous books.

This is a well-written and entertaining read, with engaging characters and a real feel for the time and place, but with a surprising amount of violent action which I for one was certainly not expecting. Our hero tries to work within the law and to do the right thing, but accepts that in order to come out ahead, and far more importantly simply stay alive to possibly ride again, he must bend and with the help of a seriously ‘dodgy’ cousin break the law.

Recommended.

John McCormick 4/4

A Sinner’s Prayer by M.P. Wright
Black and White Publishing 9781785302299 pbk Jul 2019