Monday, February 4, 2013

Review: LONG TIME DEAD (Gus Dury #4) by Tony Black

Long Time Dead (Gus Dury, #4)Tony Black never tires of punishing his protagonist Gus Dury, having endured monumental loss in the previous series instalment (aptly titled LOSS), Dury now faces a very real possibility of losing his life to drink. His situation so dire, that the opening chapters of LONG TIME DEAD see the sometime PI recovering from a particularly bad bout of self inflicted sickness. Coupled with the accompanying bar room brawls and subsequent injuries, Gus’s health is in a bad way. Luckily (subjective of course), Gus’ mate, Hod is in the bad books with local thug Shaky and needs Gus to rekindle his detective persona in order to front enough cash to keep the dogs off his back. Gus, owing Hod for a lifetime of aid takes a case which eventuates in a race to the reaper with both the case and drink vying for Gus’s lifeblood.

Ben, the son of actress, Gillian Laird is found dead in a university – the case initially billed as suicide by the local filth turns to something much more involved and sinister as Gus and co investigate the happenstance. Digging uncovers a cult of sorts which unveils a murderous ritual and past crimes spanning decades.  Adding to the continuity of the series, Shaky and his muscle are linked to the killing(s) by virtue of a drug angle. In jig time, Ben’s death and his mothers squeaky clean perception of her son are tainted and more complex than Gus had bargained for.

There are a number of familiar faces in LONG TIME DEAD. Hod, Gus and Debs are there, but it’s the return of Amy, a former understudy of sorts to Gus in his former life as a journalist that has the most impact on the damaged protagonist. Now at Uni, her sleuthing skills are once again called upon by Gus to aid the investigation. I liked the sense of family building here, Gus’s support network is forming as a tightly knit unit yet a mere pull of a loose thread ever threatens to ruin it. Tony Black does a great job at keeping the dark cloud hovering above every good aspect to Gus, you know it’s going to turn bad, the question is when?

LONG TIME DEAD is a decent whodunit cult-like murder investigation with a damaged and hopelessly tortured PI whose personal story is both a joy and a train wreck. This series is brutally honest and caters to all who like their fiction extra Black.

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