Cameron, Iain. One Last Lesson.

np: CreateSpace, 2014.

Angus Henderson is a Detective Inspector down in Sussex, having apparently left the North under a cloud. He’s a homicide specialist with the usual team of subordinates and access to all the latest SOCO techniques and equipment. He has a yacht (a very small one), a journalist girlfriend who drives fast cars, a guitarist brother who joined the army, a boss who wants to insinuate a buddy onto Henderson’s team, and a rather scruffy flat, and he hates golf and tartan hats. Actually, that’s just the tip of the list.

The author provides new likes and dislikes for him in nearly every chapter. He also seems to swing from calm and collected to spasms of outspoken judgmental temper and a tendency to ignore proper procedure to a degree that would get a real copper suspended.

The story — because there actually is one — involves the body of a dead college girl found on a golf course, who also turns out to have been employed by a pornographic website run by a couple of her professors. Henderson is outraged by that but discovers that students are consenting adults and that earning money in porn is perfectly legal, like it or not. Who dunnit? Suspects come and go, witnesses wander in and out, and the cops arrest the wrong person several times. And the author paints all this as standard procedure in a well-run CID. Frankly, by the time I got to the halfway point, I was tempted to go read something else, but I but was curious to discover whether the author would be able to pull himself out his hole. Well, . . . he doesn’t, quite.

In a successful mystery series, the usual thing is to flesh out the protagonist and two or three of his minions, those who appear in every book. We get to know them as a group, with the focus perhaps being on one particular sergeant or constable in a given story. Cameron loads us down, again, with huge amounts of irrelevant detail for a large cast of cops, bad guys, casual suspects, bystanders, and even the siblings of witnesses. That’s simply too much to wade through and keep the reader’s attention. He also has a tendency to get his villains from Central Casting. (If you met one of them at a party, you would likely say, “Hey, you’re a villain, aren’t you?”)

Amazon says there was a paperback edition of this first novel (there are three more now), but I see only the self-published Kindle version. Which is not necessarily a criticism in itself, but it does answer some questions. Like, why did Cameron not seek out the services of a good copyeditor? Someone who knows the Italian word is spelled “capisce,” not “capish”? And who could explain to him the proper use of the past perfect tense?


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