Our Editor’s Pick this month is Michael Wiley’s TROUBLE IN MIND.
TROUBLE IN MIND, the first in a hardhitting new crime noir series featuring maverick Chicago PI Sam Kelson, marks an intriguing new direction for acclaimed author Michael Wiley, whose previous series have been set amidst the humid swamplands of northern Florida.
In Sam Kelson, Wiley has created a private investigator quite unlike any other I’ve come across before. As a consequence of being shot in the head while working undercover in his former career as a cop, Kelson suffers from disinhibition: in other words, his brain injury means that he cannot keep silent or tell lies when questioned. But truth be told – and Kelson always tells the truth – he still feels compelled to investigate and, despite the odds, he’s good at his job.
Hired by Trina Felbanks – a true femme fatale if ever there was one! – to investigate her pharmacist brother, whom she suspects is dealing drugs, Kelson arrives at Felbanks’ home to make a shocking discovery. Arrested on suspicion of murder (I don’t want to give too much away here!), he makes an even more startling discovery concerning his client’s identity. Kelson would appear to have been set up . . . but by whom, and why?
As events spiral out of control and the body count rises, Kelson realizes he’s made a dangerously powerful enemy. Will he survive long enough to discover who has targeted him – and what it is they want?
While the freezing streets of Chicago create a very different backdrop to the sweltering swamplands of Jacksonville, the setting for Wiley’s previous Daniel Turner and Franky Dast thrillers, what hasn’t changed is the quality of his writing. Underpinned by the author’s trademark droll, bone-dry sense of humour, and with a memorably unusual not-so-private investigator at its core, TROUBLE IN MIND is an atmospheric, tautly-plotted and highly engaging thriller, whose string of startling revelations keeps the reader racing through the pages. The frontal cortex injury which ensures that Sam Kelson is compelled to say all the wrong things at all the wrong times, endangering his own life and the lives of others, sends the plot careering in all sorts of unexpected directions and lands the hapless detective in numerous painfully awkward situations.
I would recommend TROUBLE IN MIND to anyone who enjoys a well-plotted mystery full of unexpected twists and propelled by a particularly black sense of humour. Fans of Michael Connelly and John Sandford should particularly enjoy.
Sam Kelson is set to return for his second outing in the summer of 2020 with LUCKY BONES. I for one can’t wait to see what the maverick investigator gets up to next!
TROUBLE IN MIND is available from 30 September in the UK and 7 January in the US. Find out more here.