I recently raced through Martin Hill’s NEVER KILL A FRIEND. I gobbled it down like a fiend in two sittings, staying up late two nights in a row.
This is the debut of a new series starring Detective Shelley Krieg of Washington, DC, an African-American woman who just happens to be 6-foot-4 in stocking feet. Shelley takes her job seriously and is a tough interrogator. As the book opens, she thinks she’s got a perp in hand. His brother’s lying there dead, and he’s basically admitted to the murder. But very soon Shelley starts to question the young man’s innocence. As soon as she starts verbalizing her concerns, disturbing things start happening to her and to the accused man, whom Shelley is convinced is falsely imprisoned.
There were so many things I liked and admired about this book. First, the pace is relentless. Once you pick it up, you can’t put it down. Second, the writing’s terrific. Hill has a clear, direct, no-nonsense style that combines elegance with wisdom. Something I particularly liked is the fact that, while the book has a dark side, the characters have some humor, warmth, and light–in other words, it’s not all hardboiled, all the time.
Most of all, I liked that Hill didn’t do anything predictable. You’d think the plot would be based on political machinations because it’s Washington, DC–but it isn’t. You’d think Shelley would be juggling two suitors–but she isn’t. You’d think she’d have a typical sidekick–but she doesn’t. Well, she DOES have a sidekick, but she’s actually a former friend and the two of them are quite a hoot together, sort of a yin and yang who stick together. They’re fictional characters, but to me they seemed liked real and true friends to each other. Quite the Odd Couple–the giantess and the petite gal, the detective and the lab scientist, the straight-and-narrow and the often-inappropriate.
This is my first book by Mr. Hill but it certainly won’t be my last.