Shamus Dust

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 28 Nov 2019

Member Reviews

This was such a long read but I enjoyed it. It was very atmospheric and I feel it summed up post war London well. It was a pleasant change to read a crime novel set before the days of DNA and technology.

Thanks to NetGalley and the publishers for the ARC in return for an honest and unbiased opinion.
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Christmas 1947, and London is still recovering from the depredations of the war. Private Investigator Newman gets hired by a Councillor anxious to get to the bottom of an incident at one of his properties.  This very soon leads to the discovery of a dead body in the nearby church, and Newman finds himself embroiled in a vice murder investigation. The only witness to this murder was a nurse who was in the church at the time, and Newman has plenty of reason to disbelieve her account.

As Roger develops her plot, murders pile up and Newman's suspicions turn elsewhere. He in turn also attracts suspicion for his propensity to be in the vicinity whenever matters take a turn for the worse. The cops and the acting police pathologist both take a set against him, and there is also a collection of underworld figures wishing to do him harm.

Roger is clearly a fan of hardboiled detective fiction in the style of Chandler and Hammett, and she gives Newman a bit of the same attitude as Marlowe and Spade have, but it just seems less authentic in wintry London than in the big cities of the USA. She does capture the feel of London in the winter, and the post-war era, quite well and her plot has a depth and complexity that keeps the twists coming until almost the very end.
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Debut author Janet Roger uncannily channels the likes of hard boiled detective authors such as Raymond Chandler in this gritty post war historical crime novel set in 1947 in a desperately freezing, snowy and fog ridden London. The cool shamus in question is American PI Newman, called early on Christmas morning by a new client, a city grandee, Councilor Drake, that has him visiting the scene of the murder of Raymond Jarrett, a blackmailer and pimp, shot dead outside a church, living in a apartment rented out by Drake. His body is discovered by nurse, Estelle Greer, but DI McAlestor that Newman is supposed to meet is not there. So begins a complicated investigation for Newman in the bombed out wreckage of a gloomy ration book city, impoverished, colourless, with its powerful elites, and dirty, corrupt, brutal police officers, less interested in the truth and investigation, looking instead for convenient patsies as the bodies begin to pile up.

The small square mile of the City of London is looking to reconstruct and redevelop the financial heart of a Britain in the throes of losing its empire and its currency in crisis. Such projects offers opportunities for the already wealthy and racketeers to enrich themselves further and profiteer, a greed that does not look kindly on obstacles that stand in their way. Newman founds himself negotiating the powerful and influential, including his client, with their secrets and lies. The charismatic advising archaeologist to the city, Professor Garfield, is missing, a man with a penchant for young men, including his assistant, Henry Beaufort, a member of a influential aristocratic family. As Newman finds himself on the end of terrifying violence, he finds help from an unlikely source, the temporary medical examiner, Dr Kathryn Swinford, in his search for the truth.

Janet Roger engages in impeccable research in this atmospheric and moreish historical novel with its diverse skilfully depicted range of characters, its sharp and often witty dialogue, and lyrical prose. For a debut, this is astonishingly good, with all the requisite elements that comprise hard boiled detective fiction, all done with style and panache. It has the political intrigue, the glamorous dames, lies and sordid secrets, racketeers, a morally compromised police force and a PI that just will not give up, no matter the brutal beatings he undergoes or the financial carrots on offer. If you are a fan of hard boiled classic detective fiction, then this is an absolute must read. Many thanks to Troubadour Publishing for an ARC.
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This book ended up being very intriguing and unique, and I enjoyed the narrator quite a bit with his witty humor.
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I liked this very much, the evocation of 40s 'noir' detective films had me listening to Humphrey Bogart as I read...  The voice changed between the action sections and the descriptive pieces, which made for a bit of overkill on some of the descriptions, which were almost too deliberate in their 'noir' style. The book is a little overlong for me, I think it could have been happily tied up around three quarters of the way through, but overall extremely readable. Recommended.
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Shamus Dust surprised me. Not because I didn't expect to like it. I start every new book with at least the hope of liking it. But this one hooked me from the beginning and held on tight, page after page. I thought I had seen that this was a debut, but the more I read, the more convinced I became that this had to be the work of an author who had grown in her talent leading up to this wonderfully written story. But no, when I checked, Shamus Dust is a debut, and let me tell you, Janet Roger has set the bar quite high with this one. If you've ever enjoyed the rich atmosphere of a Bogart movie, you'll love this book because this author knows her business when it comes to creating atmosphere. The story is set in postwar London, and it's easy to picture from the vivid pictures Roger paints with her words. The whole story comes together perfectly, and I got to enjoy some terrific characters along the way. And here's the thing, this story is set a couple of decades before I was even born, but I still had no problem relating to these characters. They're that well-drawn. The whole thing simply transports you back to that time and place. This is one killer debut, one that I have no problem recommending to anyone who enjoys an atmospheric mystery.
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A good, detailed story set in, in some ways, simpler times, yet at the same time giving a strong picture of post-war London and the intrigues and wrongs that came along at that time. Fans of Mick Fallon's Jackson Lamb will love the central character and fans of clever, descriptive and often very humorous language will relish the tone and style. A book to indulge in.
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This is how you write a detective/murder mystery to impress me. A proper noir set in post-war London. Very atmospheric, vivid descriptions, I've enjoyed the occasional sarcasm, in other words: I loved almost every single page of it. Brilliant writing style, feeling like a classic of the genre. An array of interesting characters, portraying a large palette of human behaviors and morality. I truly rooted for the doc and the detective to get together(bonus points for the way their relationship ended). The only thing that annoyed me was this modern need to set everything to rights before ending a book. We could have done without know everything about every single character/situation.

Highly recommended!
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I have read a multitude of crime fiction debuts over the years, and they rate anywhere from abysmal right through to astounding. I am pleased to inform that this is another of those rare gems to add to the "astonishing debuts" shelf; in fact, the most fitting terminology to describe this cracker of a book is a masterpiece. It is one of those books I know I will re-read, something I almost never do, purely because the detail Ms Roger's supplies throughout deserves more than the one glance. I also remember ruminating on whether I wanted to pick it up because it takes place at Christmas, and I am not a fan of anything to do with the Christmas season; boy, am I glad that I made the right decision as I would have seriously missed out otherwise.

The plot is a real complex, beautifully-wrought beast and grips from the get-go without any problems at all. The various interlinked plot threads are thought-through so incredibly that I was flabbergasted by the intricacy and forethought illustrated here by a first-time author. However, at no point, does she stray into making it too complicated; this is quite the feat if you ask me. I am not going to regurgitate the synopsis as I feel the one provided is sufficient and that many will appreciate the intentional vagueness as it allows you to discover everything as a single, coherent experience. It evokes the sights, scents and sounds of the time and place it depicts, the dreary post-war chaos of London circa 1947, and although I loved many aspects this historical accuracy was one of my favourite parts.

This is a book that not only has the thrills and spills to keep your heart-rate rising but the tension creates a superb uneasy atmosphere and the substance and writing is present to back it all up. This is a hard-boiled historical crime novel with subtlety and sophistication lacing its every page. A must-read for all crime fans who enjoy compulsively readable crime and those with an appreciation of beautifully lyrical prose. Unreservedly recommended. Many thanks to Matador & Janet Roger for an ARC.
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Raymond Chandler has been reincarnated in the expressive prose of Shamus Dust.

On Christmas Day, a man is found dead on the porch of a church in post-WWII City of London. By all accounts, the victim, Raymond Jarrett, was up to no good. Pictures of young boys in compromising positions are found in his apartment. The apartment is owned by a government official who hires private eye, Newman, to figure out what happened and hush up any scandal.

While the mystery is good, it is the lush writing style that makes Shamus Dust stand out.

“In this mile-wide hub of empire and enterprise there are operators who rub against other operators with fewer scruples than they own themselves. When that happens and they get taken to the cleaners, it’s not a thing they advertise or mention to police. Not even to a high-class agency, on account of the embarrassment. So far, I don’t see what your embarrassment is. Without it the job wouldn’t be in my line.”

The author appears to have polished each sentence within the book to a high shine. This book needs to be slowly savored like a fine wine. It is also the type of book that will be even better the second time around. I highly recommend this literary noir. 5 stars!

Thanks to Matador and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for my honest review.
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Set in London, 1947. This is a murder mystery in a classic, noir style. A proper whodunnit very reminiscent of Sam Spade et al.

In this tale there have been several murders and PI Newman is tasked with finding the killer. But the story is so much more than just that, there’s a vice ring, corruption at every turn, more murders and even an archeological discovery which could put paid to plans, by a wealthy cabal, to rebuild a damaged London.

Beautifully written and highly descriptive, it is so atmospheric you can almost smell the smoky air……a book to take your time over and savour. 

Thank you to the publishers and NetGalley for the opportunity to read this for free. This is my honest and unbiased review.
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An excellent thriller, great plot, believable characters, a suprising ending everything that makes for a terrific yarn. My only  criticism was a. little drawn out with the 1940's B grade movie dialogue at times a little overplayed. I have given an honest revue and thank NetGalley.
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I'm afraid this book just wasn't for me.  Although I found the descriptions of post war London atmospheric, I was disappointed in the glib sentences rather like Philip Marlowe and it didn't sit comfortably with me.  I still find it annoying that Americanisms like sidewalk which wouldn't have been in use in London at that time are jarring and the style of writing didn't sit comfortably.
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Set in London in the aftermath of the second world war, Shamus Dust is a masterly historical thriller/police procedural. Janet Roger is utterly convincing in her depiction of a bombed-out London, still on rations, with shortages the norm, but with the opportunities of re-building and re-growth exciting the attention of some very unsavoury characters. An excellent book, and an author worth following.
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An American gum-shoe in London at the back-end of the 40s, lots of obfuscation with l-o-n-g sentences where short ones would do, garrulous and frequently annoying! Other than that, a convoluted story that, in spite of what my opening sentence might make you think, is quite believable and quite atmospheric. This is a great story for a long flight!
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A most complex and interesting story set in the ruins of London at the end of WWII. An American left over from the war sets himself up as a PI and obtains a commission from a City Councillor to investigate the murder of a tenant of a property that he owns. It turns out that the victim was operating a sleazy racket that also involved blackmail. As the investigation unfolds more people are murdered and gradually treachery, corruption and fraud is unearthed that involves people in high places. A bit difficult to read as it jumps a bit and is written somewhat in the style of Raymond Chandler. However it’s a real page turner exciting and full of surprises giving a most satisfying read
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What a wonderful book. I only wish I had saved it to read on Christmas Eve as it starts on Christmas Day, 1947 London. Janet has such a beautiful descriptive way of writing that you feel like you're in an old Humphrey Bogart movie from the first page.

Thoroughly enjoyed the storyline, the atmosphere, and the characters.

Highly recommend.
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Really enjoyable and well written. I could almost taste the smoke in the air. Beautifully describes London during the blitz and keeps you reading rightup to the end. Thankyou for this ARC
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This just wasn't my thing. I found the figurative language overdone and distracting. Language too florid and distracted from the plot.
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Despite the use of description Roger's style of writing left me feeling I was reading a list of events. This prevented me from becoming as involved as I might have done which is unfortunate as the plot is interesting and Roger doesn't shy away from murdering characters the reader knows.
If this writing approach appeals to you then this could make a good read.

Thank you to NetGalley and Troubadour (Matador) Books for this copy in exchange for an honest review.
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