‘Unprotected Sax’ is an unusual crime mystery in that we begin by knowing who did the deed. Instead of looking for the perpetrator of a murder, we turn the pages to find out whether the unfortunate drummer who saw the deed done, will survive long enough to testify against him. The author introduces the points of view of several characters in fairly quick succession at the beginning, which is a little overwhelming at first, but I soon got to know them all, and each change is clear and associated with a change of scene. These changes create an interesting energy and rhythm to the story.
Mr McFadden writes vibrant and gritty characters and excellent dialogue, very pithy and realistic, and he weaves an enjoyable tale of interrelated events. The plot is well structured and more complex than it first appears, with subsidiary mysteries around some of the characters. The pacing is good with nothing extraneous and plenty of reason to keep turning the pages. The quirks of the characters meant that it was hard to predict exactly what would happen next. All in all, a very satisfying read that builds to an exciting conclusion.
The main character, saxophone player, John Delacourt, has highly specialised fighting skills from his time as a Ranger in the army. He doesn’t like to fight, but he will if he has to defend himself or his friends. In this story, he finds himself up against the mob, and his thought processes as he analyses how to disarm his opponents are fascinating. If Mr McFadden is as skilled in these techniques as he is knowledgeable, I would hate to face him in a fight. However, this review has not been written under any duress, though Mr McFadden provided a copy of the book free of charge, he was adamant that he wanted a totally honest review – it’s the only kind I give anyway.
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