Monday, 18 June 2012


Devil’s Chimney, an e-book by Tim Larrick
A murder-mystery
Published by The Obscure Cranny Press
Available on Amazon - $2.40 or £1.53

There are some disadvantages to being a writer. For instance, it makes you excessively critical as a reader. You’re constantly raising questions about the way the author is going about his task. Isn’t that piece of dialogue a bit clunky?  Would that really happen? Why doesn’t the story flow better? So it goes on, always pick, pick, picking away, endlessly asking questions, suggesting improvements instead of just enjoying the tale. And though I can’t speak for others, at the end I often find myself asking, Could I have written that story? Would it have been better if I had? And then comes the big question, Do I wish I had written it?

And so how does Tin Larrick’s murder-mystery story, Devil’s Chimney, measure up? The story is set in Eastbourne where I live so not surprisingly I was attracted to it. It’s jam-packed with places I know, the seafront and the beach, pubs and coffee shops, the police station and the Wish Tower, Sovereign Harbour and the Belle Tout lighthouse, now a private house high up on Beachy Head. And the body of a savagely murdered woman is found in a hotel not five minutes’ walk from where I live. And another body is later found in a seafront shelter fifteen minutes away.

Caution: do not be misled. Just because it mentions locales known to you, the reader, your judgment of the story must not be distorted. I told myself that I must not be beguiled by the familiarity of such scenes, that I must judge the description of the town by the way in which they might appeal to readers who do not know it. Well, Tin Larrick has interpreted the place so vividly. His clear descriptions of the town are apt. By day, it has many charms. At night, this elegant town has another face.

They do say ‘Write about what you know.’ This is a police procedural and Larrick is a former policeman. No more to be said. He knows his stuff.

I very much liked the central character, the young, novice detective constable, Chalvington Barnes, a man clearly destined for the top. As for the back-story, he and his wife being unable to conceive, that was absolutely convincing and moving too. And I thought his ambitious young woman reporter made quite an impact. I hope that we shall meet her again.

And of course, Larrick knows his low-lifes. He has them to a tee. You can recognise them. They are believable. They aren’t just Eastbourne manifestations. You see them everywhere. Worse luck!

This is a really enjoyable story, very well structured, with some heart-thumping situations.

If I had a reservation it was that there was little humour in the account. Maybe even at the worst times, in fact especially at the worst times, I should have expected some wry police station humour. But that is a small quibble.

As to my question: Could I have written this book? No. I couldn’t. But I wish I could have done.

I ought to add perhaps that I bought the book and that I have had no contact with Tin Larrick of whom I had not heard until four days ago.

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