Author: Owen Mullen
Published: February 2017 by Bloodhound Books
Category: Crime, Thriller, Suspense, Book Review
The body on the mortuary slab wasn’t who Glasgow PI Charlie Cameron was looking for.
But it wasn’t a stranger.
Suddenly, a routine missing persons investigation becomes a fight for survival. As Charlie is dragged deeper into Glasgow’s underbelly he goes up against notorious gangster Jimmy Rafferty and discovers what fear really is.
Old Friends and New Enemies, the second book in the Charlie Cameron series finds Charlie working two cases: finding Cecelia McNeil’s husband, who disappeared the day before the funeral of their son, and a more personal one. While checking an unidentified body to make sure it’s not the missing husband, Charlie is shocked and horrified to recognise his old friend, Ian Selkirk. Ian’s body had been washed up on the beach at Luss, on the banks of Loch Lomond. Charlie and Ian, along with another close friend, Fiona, were very close and spent a lot of time together when they were in their twenties. Charlie hasn’t seen either of them for years but knows he has to get back in touch with Fiona in the light of Ian’s murder.
Charlie’s long dormant feelings for Fiona are rekindled and seem to be reciprocated when they meet again to organise Ian’s funeral. As Charlie learns more of Ian’s increasingly dangerous activities, and involvement with gangsters who stop at nothing prior to his death, he persuades Fiona to return to Spain until things are sorted out. The more he uncovers the more out of his depth Charlie becomes, finding himself in the sights of a notorious local gangster family.
Those who know don’t speak. Those who speak don’t know.
Jimmy Rafferty was in his twenties when he heard that scrap of ancient wisdom. It appealed to him. He quoted it often without understanding. Or perhaps he did. The mafia had Omerta, in the east end of Glasgow, Rafferty had the Tao. It was enough. The boy from Bridgeton climbed the mountain and for forty years his empire was held in place by the unsaid. No one discussed him or his business.
Set mostly in and around Glasgow, and including beautiful places I’ve lately become familiar with, the story has a grisly and dramatic opening scene. Told mainly in the first person from Charlie’s perspective, it also has the occasional third person point of view. A darkly gritty tale, including flashes of humour, and a fast paced storyline with short, punchy sentences.
Charlie seems to have a knack for finding missing people, but in this case he’s sidetracked by Ian’s death, the trouble it’s landed him in, and Fiona’s reappearance. The villains are portrayed well too, unquestionably a nasty family with no scruples.
I enjoyed Charlie in the first book and his backstory is developed more throughout this one. His flaws and insecurities make him interesting and empathetic. He’s not one to give up, regardless of the consequences and I had no idea how the plot would all be resolved. There are plenty of twists leading up to a great ending.
Several of the excellent and realistic characters from the first book are included, DS Andrew Geddes, Jackie, who runs New York Blue, the bar where everyone congregates, and loveable rogue, Pat Logue, Charlie’s sometimes sidekick. I thoroughly enjoyed Old Friends and New Enemies and will be moving onto book three hopefully very soon.
School was a waste of time for me. Or rather, I wasted time; my own and every teacher’s who tried to get me to work. It took twenty years to appreciate what they were telling me. Life has rules. They aren’t written down but they exist nevertheless. I got that. Eventually. But by then I was thirty five.
Along the way I missed an important clue. At ten I won a national primary schools short story competition – and didn’t write anything else for forty years.
SMART BOY WANTED
As a teenager my big obsession was music. Early on I realised if I was successful I would probably be rich and famous and pull lots of girls.
So how did that turn out?
Well, you haven’t heard of me, have you? And this morning I caught myself worrying about the electricity bill. So the short answer is: one out of three ain’t bad.
Running around the country in a Transit van with your mates is fun. It’s your very own gang. You against the world. Until you fall out and the dream lies bleeding on the dressing-room floor.
When that happened I went to London
[everybody from Scotland goes to London, it’s like first footing at New Year, or ten pints of lager and a vindaloo on a Friday night; a sacred tradition]
and became a session singer. I also started gigging with different bands on the circuit.
Back in Scotland – most of us come back with wild tales of great success, none of them true – I wondered what I should do with myself and didn’t have to wait long for the answer. Her name was Christine. We got married, I went to Strathclyde Uni and got a bunch of letters after my name, and toughing it out at Shotts Miner’s Welfare, or dodging flying beer cans at the Café Club in Baillieston, was in the past. The long hair was short now, I wore a suit and pretended to like people I didn’t like because we were ‘colleagues’.
After many adventures I started my own marketing and design business and did alright. Christine and I were very happy, we travelled all over the place; India, Brazil, Botswana, Nepal, Borneo, Japan. One day I suggested we move. To the Greek islands. So we did. We bought land and built a beautiful villa overlooking the Mediterranean. Then the pan global financial crash happened, years of fiscal carelessness finally caught up with Greece; the exchange rate dived and the cost of living in Paradise went through the roof.
I had to do something. Then I remembered the short story competition. I had been good at writing, hadn’t I?
I wrote another short story called The King Is Dead…the first thing I’d written since primary school. When I typed the last word [Christine taught me to type] I held the pages in my hand then started to read. An hour and a half, rooted to the chair unable to believe what was in front of my eyes. For four decades I had shunned a god given gift. And as I read I started to understand why. It was awful. Not just bad. Bloody terrible.
But I kept going.
And now, eight years and seven books later, three literary agents plus two I turned down [they were reading a different book] I am a writer. My books are on Amazon. People buy them and come back for more.
One seasoned London agent has predicted I am destined to be ‘a major new force in British crime fiction.’
So is the moral: follow my example, find something you’re good at and stick with it. Hardly. I didn’t, did I? Do it your own way; it’s your life.