Privileged youths who commit horrific acts that come back to wreck their lives—the trope has been fodder for many a crime fiction tale, not to mention more than a few horror films.
But Tony Parsons, the author of numerous award-winning bestsellers in Great Britain, makes this plot device seem fresh thanks to his energetic storytelling and his appealing hero, Det. Constable Max Wolfe. In The Murder Man, Parsons explores social class, morality, and politics in a multilayered, character-driven plot with numerous hairpin twists. The first of a new series, The Murder Man was released earlier this year in England as The Murder Bag.
Max is a good cop, but he also makes mistakes, takes chances, and sometimes acts on his intuition rather than the facts. That attitude occasionally works, such as when he disobeyed orders in order to head off a suicide bomber headed for a London train station. Max’s actions saved hundreds of lives and made him a hero. But whether his reassignment to homicide is a reward or a punishment is still to be seen.
His latest cases—the murder of Adam Jones, a homeless junkie, and the killing of Hugo Buck, an arrogant investment banker— at first seem to have no connection to each other. But the two men were once in the same class at Potter’s Field, an exclusive boarding school for the upper class. And the murderer is targeting more of their classmates from the same school.
Max isn’t always successful as he tries to skirt the land mines of upper class snobbery and office politics. He makes mistakes, and his bosses don’t always trust or believe him. But Max’s determination and sincere belief in justice propel him through his cases. At home, Max walks a tightrope as a single father to Scout, his five-year-old daughter, and as the new owner of a dog, Stan, whom he’s trying to housebreak. Parsons deftly balances the scenes of Max’s professional life and the often-heartbreaking scenes at home (Scout can’t understand why her mother left Max and her for another man, and neither does Max).
The complex plot moves at a fast clip and Parsons leaves plenty of room for Max’s next adventure which is great news for readers.