PrintE-mail Written by Alister Davison

Gideon Tau is no ordinary cop. He works for Delphic Division, the occult investigative unit of the South African Police Service, dealing with the supernatural crimes committed in the city of Durban and its environs. Like all good literary detectives, he's a tortured soul still coming to grips with the events of his past, specifically the loss of a child. When his latest case reveals that his daughter’s killer is involved, Gideon must make a tough choice; pursue his need for revenge, or take his place in a titanic battle against evil?

Poison City kicks off with a killer first line, starting at a relentless pace. Initially, it feels like an early Tarantino version of an urban fantasy, with some outrageous banter between Gideon and the dog that is not only his spirit guide but an unruly drunk to boot. As Gideon’s investigation proceeds, it drags him deeper into what proves to be an epic conflict between good and evil; there are angels, demons, bad language, violence and gore, but author Paul Crilley never loses sight of the humanity, imbuing Gideon with faults and desires that are all too recognisable. He's damaged goods, but sympathetic, bringing a tone of wry cynicism to the entire novel that helps set him apart from the inevitable comparison.

The book maintains its pace throughout, insisting to be read in the minimum number of sittings. Sometimes, this can be to its detriment as the emotional scenes may not linger as much as they possibly should. Even the moments when Gideon is looking at information on a computer or inspecting a crime scene possess the same taut prose, the short sentences that make it like a literary version of a high-octane ‘80s movies.

If that is a sign of an author eager to tell his story, who can blame him? It's an absolute cracker, one that has a satisfying number of twists, a supporting cast that are as well-realised as the narrator, and a conclusion that not only whets the appetite for the second book in the series, but pays off everything that has gone before to leave the reader satisfied. Poison City is Crilley’s début adult novel, a book that isn't for the easily-offended and, while it can be challenging at times, is ultimately rewarding and entertaining. The war is coming, says the cover; given this first battle, it's going to be one hell of a ride.



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