Never Apologise, Never Explain is James Craig’s second novel in his Inspector John Carlyle series which kicked off with London Calling in 2011. Set in central London, it’s where Carlyle lives and works. He is, literally, in the area of his beat for 24/7. It’s also where the author himself lives and due to this we have a vibrant evocation of London and its locals, all of which feel very real. This is the heart of central London properly exposed and examined.
Never Apologise, Never Explain sees Carlyle juggling a few cases. Officially, he is investigating the murder of Agatha Mills, found dead in her flat near the British Museum by her husband Henry. It looks like a quick wrap with a guilty Henry, but not only does he refuse to confess, he suggests that his late wife’s Chilean ‘enemies’ are responsible after enduring thirty years of her campaign to see her brother’s killer brought to justice. Unofficially, Carlyle is distracted when called upon to assist a local prostitute in preventing the father of their very young son from abducting him, where he threatens to sell him to a paedophile ring. Thirdly, out of the blue, a TV news presenter Carlyle met on a previous case phones him to call in a favour owed. As might be expected, none of these cases runs smoothly.
Carlyle’s very busy life is spiked by his connoisseur-level penchant for coffee, sought out in old Italian establishments not the ubiquitous American chains. And if Carlyle has a busy life, Craig produces a pelting pace to match. This is a very solid and hugely enjoyable contemporary police thriller featuring an occasionally irascible Carlyle. It may be gritty, but it is mature and does not rely on the tendency to shock and employ the gore found in other novels of a similar description. One of its brilliant offerings is a setting in London which is quietly contracting due to high rents and global commercial activities, for here we have a sense of community amongst the locals. Never Apologise, Never Explain is as close as you can get to the heartbeat of London. It may even cause palpitations when reading.
Available now for Kindle, the paperback will be published on 2 February. A proof was read for the purposes of this review. Find out more about the author and his novels at his site here. The following video should also give you a fine flavour.