Needle Song by Russell Day #BookReview #BlogTour

Spending the night with a beautiful woman would be a good alibi, if the body in the next room wasn't her husband.
Doc Slidesmith has a habit of knowing things he shouldn’t. He knows the woman Chris Rudjer meets online is married. He knows the adult fun she’s looking for is likely to be short lived. And when her husband’s killed, he knows Chris Rudjer didn’t do it. 
Only trouble is the police disagree and no one wants to waste time investigating an open and shut case.
No one except Doc.
Using lies, blackmail and a loaded pack of Tarot cards, Doc sets about looking for the truth - but the more truth he finds, the less he thinks his friend is going to like it.

Back in April I took part in the cover reveal for Needle Song and loved the description of the book so I was thrilled to be asked to take part in the blog tour. Many thanks to the author, publishers and Emma Welton from damppebbles blog tours for inviting me and for my ecopy of the novel.
Chris Rudjer may well be the archetypal man in the wrong place and the wrong time when Peter Keller dies and he is in the guest bedroom with Keller's wife, Jan at the time - so it's hardly surprising when police are suspicions that the death wasn't the suicide it was made to look like. With a police record and a tattoo reading ACAB (all coppers are bastards) across his throat, Rudjer is a convenient suspect and with the police convinced of his guilt he's going to have to rely on somebody else to help.
Step up Doc Slidesmith, former psychologist turned tattooist, and his apprentice, Yakky. The story is told through Yakky's perspective and he has a significant role to play in the story but the lead character is undoubtedly Doc. Enigmatic, infuriating and loyal, Doc has an innate ability to read people. He practises Voodoo and consults the Tarot cards but whether his insights come from his spiritual beliefs or from his natural perceptiveness combined with his tendency to use his patter - The Jive - to wheedle out the truth, he's a fascinating man and a refreshingly original protagonist. There's an intriguing theme that runs through the book as to the different personas people adopt in various situations, either knowingly or subconsciously, something Doc is particularly aware of and is able to use to his advantage at times. Even Doc can't always work Yakky out however; he is a very likeable character but has a tendency to keep things close to his chest, and even though as the narrator, the reader discovers more about him through his inner dialogue than the other characters do, I still felt we haven't quite learned all we can about him. I hope to find out more about him - and his toxic yet often very funny relationship with his awful father - in subsequent novels.
Though Doc is a tattooed biker, he also has a fascination with Agatha Christie's Miss Marple stories, telling Yakky that he yields to no man in his admiration of her. For all its gritty realism, Needle Song is actually a mystery Agatha Christie would be proud of. There's a cast of characters who could all have been the killer, each with their own dark little secrets. I really couldn't decide who I thought was guilty; as Doc and Yakky delve into their sordid pasts it seemed that each of them was untrustworthy and could potentially be the guilty party. The book twists and turns, throwing out little clues and red herrings along the way, with Doc's clever manipulation of the suspects and his little insights making him a worthy successor to his favourite fictional detective, or with his idiosyncrasies perhaps even more so to that other great Christie creation, Hercule Poirot. The final reveal as to what really happened that night is brilliantly contrived with the suspects grouped together as Doc plays to the audience as he solves the mystery at last.
I loved Needle Song; it's contemporary, edgy and witty urban noir meets traditional style murder mystery making for an original and thoroughly entertaining read from start to finish. I was thrilled to learn Doc Slidesmith will return in Ink to Ashes and can't wait to read it. In the meantime, I highly recommend Russell Day's debut novel.

Needle Song is published by Fahrenheit Press and can be purchased from Amazon UK, Amazon US or directly from Fahrenheit's own store. Don't miss the other stops on the blog tour, details are below.

About the Author
Russell Day was born in 1966 and grew up in Harlesden, NW10 – a geographic region searching for an alibi. From an early age it was clear the only things he cared about were motorcycles, tattoos and writing. At a later stage he added family life to his list of interests and now lives with his wife and two children. He’s still in London, but has moved south of the river for the milder climate.
Although he only writes crime fiction Russ doesn’t consider his work restricted. ‘As long as there have been people there has been crime, as long as there are people there will be crime.’ That attitude leaves a lot of scope for settings and characters. One of the first short stories he had published, The Second Rat and the Automatic Nun, was a double-cross story set in a world where the church had taken over policing. In his first novel, Needle Song, an amateur detective employs logic, psychology and a loaded pack of tarot cards to investigate a death.
Russ often tells people he seldom smiles due to nerve damage, sustained when his jaw was broken. In fact, this is a total fabrication and his family will tell you he’s has always been a miserable bastard. 


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