Ridley’s War is a very accomplished novel which I very much enjoyed reading. Jim Napier’s protagonist Colin McDermott is a competent and fair investigator and, with a strong supporting cast of well-drawn characters and a deftly unfolding plot, this made for easy and fluid reading. Part-murder mystery, part-war story, part-art hunt, this sounds like it could have too much going on, leading it to be one of those books that ends up a tangle of ideas where the reader is more baffled than satisfied, or ends up being overwhelmed with little awareness of its purpose. Luckily, that is not the case here as all of these different subplots interweave under Napier’s masterful hand.
If I have one criticism of the book and it is a minor one, it is the way that George Ridley’s speech has been written. I know Jim Napier has been particular in this in order for the nuances of the Yorkshire accent and dialect to form more easily in the reader’s mind but for me, I found this a little distracting. Perhaps this is because, as a British reader, the accent for me is familiar whereas for others internationally, this would be tricky to conjure without some tinkering with syntax and spelling. However, having said this, it was a very slight grievance in what was a very good book.
The transitions between chapters were smooth and the intimation of the way that characters view each other in the commentary between their speech shows that Napier is a commensurate observer of human interaction.
I would recommend this book for those who like their mystery stories gritty enough to grip but not enough to chafe and ultimately, light in flavour. There are no real dark moments here and as a quick read which entertains and fulfils in its telling of its story, any reader should be satisfied.
I suppose the question is would I read other books featuring Colin McDermott? The resoundingly positive answer to this would be a yes and this reader has already been seeking out the first book Legacy and will anticipate the subsequent one in 2022. For the lover of mystery crime, Jim Napier’s books have much to offer.
I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily. This is a fair and unbiased representation of my views of the book.