One Last Dram Before Midnight by Denzil Meyrick

Review published on September 30, 2017.

I put off reading this book for as long as I could. Why, you might ask? Was the thought of it that bad? Nooooooo. I knew that once I’d read and finished it I’d wish I had it to read all over again! I fervently hope that as I write this Denzil Meyrick is busy writing another Daley drama.

I think that if you are a fan of DCI Jim Daley you cannot fail but to soak these stories up with the suction of a turbo vacuum. What I found quite poignant was meeting Daley as a young policeman, full of enthusiasm and optimism, before he turned into the more dour Jim of Well of the Winds. Brian Scott continues to liberally pepper his wit throughout the pages rendering the duo the Morecambe and Wise of detection almost. And it’s like meeting up with a couple of old friends reminiscing. There are seven stories here and all but one feature Daley and Scott, but the one that doesn’t does have a younger Hamish in it so it’s not all bad.

But let’s put the sycophantic fan worship to one side and get serious. I do not actively seek out short stories, which is a shame because when I do, I find them most satisfying to read. The format really works here with the solving of crimes. Short stories like these allow the reader the opportunity for a credible pause after a finished story instead of that reluctance to put the book down because you want to read on and find out what happens.

The wonderful landscape and community of Kinloch once again features in these stories as another character almost. It is one of the things I admire about Meyrick’s work, how his love of the place shines through the pages and catches the reader in its beam. What I also found fascinating was the development of Meyricks’s writing. He’s grown, along with Daley, in his career from Constable Meyrick to Chief Superintendent Meyrick!

A crime short story has to be tight and well plotted. By necessity the plots tend to be less complex than a full length novel and all of these work. There is variety from some simple detection and deduction tales to more brutal gangland crimes. The writing is well paced and flowing. Many familiar characters as well as a few new one and functional ones.

It may seem paradoxical, considering these stories show Daley at the start of his career, but I’m not sure if this is the best place to start if you’ve never read any before. However, that may be because I’ve read most of the other books and I can’t imagine how I would feel if this was my first date with Daley.

If you like well-written crime, realistic but not without humour, an atmospheric landscape and some engaging characters, you’d find it hard not to enjoy this collection.

Gill Chedgey 4/3

One Last Dram Before Midnight by Denzil Meyrick
Polygon 9781846973789 pbk Sep 2017

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