I am both fortunate and privileged to have had an early opportunity to enjoy a reader’s copy of Scarecrow, a novel that Salt Publishing will be adding to its crime fiction list for publication in September.
Fast-paced and compelling, it is set partly in the Andalusian province of Almeria (of spaghetti western fame) and partly in England. Danny Sanchez, a bi-lingual journalist, grew up in England and left for Spain when his mentor and friend on a Hampshire local newspaper committed suicide. Danny is covering the story of a compulsory house demolition in the Almanzora Valley, an ex-pat community populated by thousands of British seekers of sun and self-built paradise. 2009 brought disaster for many of them, whose homes had been identified by the regional government as irregular constructions and who were served with demolition orders.
What the demolition unintentionally reveals leads Danny on a tortuous path of discovery, via thuggish cowboy builders and a missing teenage boy, around Almeria and back to England, as he quests for the scoop of a lifetime. Nineteen years a reporter, eleven of them in England, Danny is hard-bitten but human. The author carefully builds his personality and history, creating a very real and interesting man, skilled in his job and with an instinctive flair for managing people and ferreting out the information that he needs. The narrative moves with a Chandleresque efficiency; the dialogue is stark and often harsh, but most effective in conveying the personalities of the speakers. Pritchard has a good ear.
This is a story unusual for its very adept portrayal of the life of a reporter, especially of one whose career has been shaped by life in two countries; it has lots of graphic descriptive detail, which makes the locations and the events very real and easy to visualise, but without being over-facing or heavy-handed. It also deals brilliantly with the presentation of grotesque crimes. The author is a gifted story-teller and I expect that his future readers will find themselves immediately engaged and compelled to read and read. Matthew Pritchard is a striking new voice in Salt’s crime list and I have no hesitation in recommending Scarecrow to readers of this blog.
5 thoughts on “Here’s one I’d like you to know about – a new and striking Salt crime novel!”
Aaah, so much to read, so little time! I have nearly finished your very compelling In the Family, Christina. I have enjoyed it immensely and have to say I am more than a bit impressed. I’m quite a fan of Deborah Crombie’s books and your style, although not like hers. has the same intrinsic humanity and thoughtfulness without the heaviness that Elizabeth George has developed over the years. I used to read a lot of crime fiction but found much of it so gory in its graphic descriptions that I was quite sickened, so I stopped reading them for quite a while. Deborah Crombie (whose books I have read for years), Donna Leon and now you, have given me back my taste. Thank you for a gripping and immensely stimulating read! Maybe I’ll try this one too!
Well, I’m pretty much speechless after reading this response to ‘In the Family’, Val. Your comment suggests very clearly the range and quality of your reading of crime fiction and to find myself compared to these authors so kindly and generously is more than a little flattering; that the commendation also comes from someone who has so much experience of writing and of literature in general makes it doubly potent to me. I should like you to know that this has given me enormous encouragement to carry on with an approach which I could not be sure would reach out to readers in these days of fast-paced, action-weighted and, as you say, graphically-gory narratives. I’m very grateful for your having taken the time and trouble to post this. You have, if you will forgive the cliché, made my day. Thank you very much indeed.
PS, I’m adding this comment to your Novels page too.
My very great pleasure, Christina. You can be absolutely sure of my support for the approach you’ve chosen! I truly felt crime fiction was a taste of the past for me, so I am very happy to have found you! I have completely finished In the Family now and everything I have said stands. I thoroughly enjoyed trying to unravel the complex threads of all the different layers in it. My next stop will be adding this review to Amazon. com, the place I believe all publishers want reviews to be seen 🙂 Looking forward to the next DI Yates novel
Valerie, this is a wonderful way to finish the day. I’m on my mettle now to make ‘Almost Love’ meet your high expectations. Thank you again. 🙂