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The Long Close Call    by J. Wallis Martin order for
Long Close Call
by J. Wallis Martin
Order:  USA  Can
Hodder & Stoughton, 2000 (1988)
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

To save a child's life, Flying Squad officer Robbie McLaughlan shoots down Stuart Swift - the only son of a violent and vindictive criminal - during an armed bank robbery. But when he suspects that the villains have identified him and that his family is under surveillance, his boss and peers think he is suffering from post-traumatic stress.

This story unfolds from differing points of view and with forays into the past. Unbeknownst to his superiors, Robbie himself has a murky history. His biological father and uncle were criminals and his only brother disappeared when he was a child. Jarvis, the police officer who raised Robbie and still loves his mother, coaxed him repeatedly to reveal what happened to his brother but he has kept silent.

Then Robbie's four year old son is abducted, a brother officer shot, and the authorities suspect him as much as the villains. When informed that he must give himself up to the Swifts in exchange for his son, he has nowhere to turn but to the two father figures in his life, the one who tried to raise him and the one who deserted him and his mother.

This is an excellent story, with neither the trite characters nor pat endings that characterize much of the genre. The relationships between the triangle of Jarvis and Robbie's parents, or even Robbie and his own wife, are real and complex. The police are hampered by press sensationalism, the bad guys' lawyers and corruption within their own ranks.

This is the author's third crime novel, and reading it has left me determined to get my hands on the previous two. If you enjoy British psychological thrillers and authors like Minette Walters, don't miss The Long Close Call.

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