Tuesday 6 October 2009

Paul Charles' Charm

I’m currently reading Family Life by Paul Charles. It’s a police procedural set in a small Donegal town, the second in his new series featuring Inspector Starrett. Charles’ writing is of a no frills, matter-of-fact variety, but that isn’t to say that it lacks the panache and charm that I feel most writers of the Irish crime fiction set are bestowed with. But he approaches it quite differently than a lot of his contemporaries.

The following exchange between the protagonist and his father illustrates it pretty well, in my opinion:

'“Oh you should always be wary of someone who walks at least a step or two behind his wife.”

“Ach, sure, that’s only because city girls walk faster, Dad.”

“Aye, I did hear they were faster all right,” Starrett’s dad replied, and then he muttered something Starrett couldn’t make out.'

I think Charles has painted an honest representation of small town mentality here. Both humorous and disparaging, but true to the kind of characters he has created in this world. Starrett is a relaxed and mostly unflappable character (though quite innocent and shy at times for an inspector) who’s a bit more worldly from time spent living in London. Sometimes he’s a little dismayed at the old fashioned attitudes held by those close to him, and yet at other times he’s equally likely to embrace them. It’s an interesting mix.

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