Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Noho by James Davis

When a dead dancing girl with all the wrong connections is found with Nick Valentine's name scrawled on a scrap of paper in her pocket, life gets a lot more complicated for the disgraced Great War hero. Unwillingly drawn into a web of espionage and crime in the underbelly of 1930's London, Nick soon discovers that who killed her may be less important than why. With British Intelligence leaning on Nick to use his underworld connections to investigate the girl's killing, it soon becomes clear that there's more to the murder than meets the eye. Nick soon finds himself at odds not just with the authorities, but on the wrong side of Soho's gangland bosses and pursued by a foreign spy ring. Trawling Fitzrovia and Soho's demi-monde of clubs, cabarets and pubs for answers, Nick realizes that the stakes go beyond national security, and that no one can be trusted. As the net closes and the case draws to an increasingly bloody conclusion, Nick is left to tie up the loose ends at a terrible personal cost.  This dark and brooding thriller lifts the covers on a fascinating 1930s' London few know, while the plot's twists and turns keep the reader guessing right up to the final page.(synopsis from Goodreads)

James Davis delivers a gritty Noir tale with his newest release called Noho.  The novel takes place in Soho, London sometime in the 1930’s. His character Nick Valentine takes us right into the seedy sections and leads us on a world wind tour as he attempts to solve a murder, protect his dame and figure out who the good guys are.

As I read this novel, the whole tale came alive for me in black and white. It reminded me of the old PI movies I watched as a teen.  I could see the art deco styled lounges and the smoke filled bars. The men in trench coats and fedoras and the ladies in their cocktail dresses, hats and heals. The story begins with Davis dropping us smack dap into one of Nick Valentine’s flashback/nightmares of the war.  Some would say Nick is a disgraced war hero and a drunk, but we quickly learn looks can be deceiving. Nick wakes up from his nightmare to the sound of a gunshot. He leaves his flat to investigate, and finds the body of a young woman. He contacts the police and is hauled in for his troubles. The police are leaning heavy on Nick accusing him of killing the girl; when a British Intelligence officer steps in and takes over the case. Nick’s name and address are found on the body, and Nick is unwillingly drawn into assisting him with the investigation. As Nick uncovers clues, we are left wondering who the good guys are. Nick finds himself being pursed by the law  and a handful of unsavory characters. What unfolds is a fast paced gripping tale with a cast of who-dun-it’s that will leave you guessing.

The key players (characters) are beautifully portrayed by Davis. They are all flawed, unique and each has their own personal agenda.  It is up to Nick to piece together the clues, solve the murder, and get himself out of this mess. Despite his personal demons, I really like protagonist Nick Valentine.  He is highly intelligent, loyal and charismatic. Watching him find clues and solve the case was a blast. Davis beautifully executed one twist after another in this action packed tale of murder, spies, and secrets. The ending kept me completely engrossed, as I was hit with surprise twists and climactic scenes.

I highly recommend NoHo to fans of Noir, mystery and suspense.  This novel is currently available in paperback and eBook formats. I look forward to reading more of Davis’s works.

I want to thank Wild Wolf Publishing and the author for providing this ARC in exchange for my unbiased review.

I gave this novel 4 coffee cups out of 5. 

Buy it at Barnes and Noble here:

Or at Amazon here:

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