2 March 2016

Review: ENOUGH ROPE, Barbara Nadel

  • First published in Great Britain by Hachette UK 2015 - Quercus
  • ISBN 978-1-84866-423-4
  • 377 pages
  • #4 in the Hakim and Arnold series
  • source: my local library
Synopsis (publisher)

Old rivalries and new threats clash in London's East End in this fourth crime novel in the Hakim & Arnold series

Private investigator and ex-soldier Lee Arnold and superintendent Paul Venus are by no means friends, but when Venus' son Harry is kidnapped and ransom demands arrive from an address in Arnold's patch in east London, the superintendent doesn't know who else to turn to.

Arnold and his partner Mumtaz Hakim soon find themselves chasing leads into several of the East End's uneasily coexisting communities. Mumtaz uncovers a link to one of the area's powerful Bangladeshi families, whose property empire has always seemed suspicious, while Arnold suspects the involvement of more old-fashioned East End gangsters, and wonders if some of the nastier rumours about Venus himself might be true. And neither Mumtaz nor Lee like the look of the children of the super-rich, arriving in droves in the trendy parts of Hoxton and Shoreditch and living in luxury just a stone's throw from grinding urban poverty.

The truth, however, is stranger and more dangerous than either Arnold or Hakim imagine. Enough Rope is a powerful and thrilling novel of London's ever-evolving dark side.

My Take

Police superintendent Paul Venus and his wife are separated and have tried to compensate by sending their teenage son Harry to an exclusive boy's boarding school. Now it appears that Harry has been kidnapped and the first ransom demand has arrived. The parents are told to raise the money quickly and not to involve the police. Venus does not know who to turn to and calls an old colleague, ex-policeman, private investigator Lee Arnold who runs his business in the East End.

The main story of the novel is the kidnapping and the efforts to locate Harry. Venus and his wife Tina are able to raise and deliver the ransom, but then a second demand arrives. This is money they just don't have and Venus turns to a known gangster for funds. And then comes the third demand. Days are passing and gradually Arnold develops an idea of who is behind the demands.

Meanwhile his partner Mumtaz Hakim pursues other investigations. One is the search for her mother by a middle-aged woman who has now developed Huntingdon's who was left in a local phone box as a baby.  The baby was taken to a local convent but it appears that the nuns there had more idea of the child's mother than they revealed at the time.

A third plot strand explores a protection racket being run by one of the East End's powerful Bangladeshi families. Mumtaz Hakim has personal knowledge of their activities and is doing her best to protect her daughter Shazia from their reach.

This novel draws a fascinating snapshot of the mixed culture of this area of London. It was a refreshing change from police procedurals.

My rating: 4.7

About the author

In addition to her Hakim and Arnold crime series set in east London, Barbara Nadel is the author of the Ikmen crime novels, set in Turkey. Born in London's East End, Barbara now lives in Essex.

Hakim and Arnold Mystery
1. A Private Business (2012)
2. An Act of Kindness (2013)
3. Poisoned Ground (2014)
4. Enough Rope (2015)

Cetin Ikmen
1. Belshazzar's Daughter (1999)
2. A Chemical Prison (2000)
     aka The Ottoman Cage
3. Arabesk (2001)
4. Deep Waters (2002)
5. Harem (2003)
6. Petrified (2003)
7. Deadly Web (2005)
8. Dance With Death (2006)
9. A Passion for Killing (2007)
10. Pretty Dead Things (2007)
11. River of the Dead (2009)
12. Death by Design (2010)
13. A Noble Killing (2011)
14. Dead of Night (2012)
15. Deadline (2013)
16. Body Count (2014)
17. Land of the Blind (2015)
18. On the Bone (2016)

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