Isn’t it great to find a new crime series that makes you laugh and yet has a streak of malignant fear?

This is Keen’s third novel in the Soho Series, the first two being Soho Dead and Soho Ghosts, which introduced the main private detective Kenny Gabriel, but although there are a few references to past people and cases this can be a standalone book.

We find Kenny working alongside his obese, claustrophobic partner Odeerie (there’s some great names in the novel!) hoping some past success will lead to some extra work and income in their skip-tracing office, that is, looking for missing persons.

When Pam Ridley comes in saying she is determined to find her daughter after 22 years, Kenny realises this will be a bigger case than usual as her daughter was a promising model, Emily Ridley, who when she disappeared was with celebrity rock star Castor Greaves. The case will take Kenny back to an earlier sleazy Soho and the heady rock days of sex and drugs.

There are some great characters such as the other band members of MEAN, the group of which Castor was the star and an ageing music journalist Saskia Reeves-Montgomery who lives on a house boat and has inside knowledge about the band and those involved with them.

Kenny is nearing 60, scruffy and a drinker and smoker who is on his own after he abandoned his past girlfriend Stephie in Manchester and now finds her back in London and linked with a smarmy property developer Jake Villiers, who seems to have some link with Kenny’s new case.

As the plot develops, there are some great twists and turns and the author writes with a nice turn of phrase that has a dark comedic element to the narrative with Kenny and those he meets. There is some gruesome violence and the sins of the past start to catch out quite a few suspects.

Kenny’s personal life and his kind, humble personality, well hidden inside a cynical shell, draw the reader into his life and I was very engaged in following him and the case to its surprising conclusion.

A good new discovery for a personal read and I think book groups will like the pace and characters of this crime thriller. I look forward to reading the first two novels and hopefully there will be more in store for Kenny Gabriel.

Philipa Coughlan 4/4

Soho Angel by Greg Keen
Thomas & Mercer 9781542004107 pbk Apr 2019