A Kind of Drowning by Robert Craven is a crime fiction set in Ireland, just as the country is on the cusp of a pandemic. Pius John (P.J.) Crowe is a detective in trouble. With his marriage in freefall in Dublin, he temporarily moves to the small seaside town of Roscarrig in the hope of finding himself. His face is, unfortunately, now well known across social media as the man who beat up a sports coach at one of his son’s matches. As a detective, he is suspended pending an enquiry into his actions.
P.J. Crowe is a man on the edge. With the assistance of a retired Garda, an old friend, he takes a short-term lease on a flat above a takeaway in Roscarrig but, on his own, his mind wanders and he starts to feel himself slowly slip further into decline. Eating rubbish, smoking and drinking heavily, P.J. Crowe is a man on the edge. He looks for work, anything to distract him from his racing mind and picks up a few hours at a local cafe. While there a young girl comes in excited to be starting her first job. Her name is Thea Farrell. But Thea is not like other girls and P.J. soon finds himself defending her against the vitriol of others. Although he only knows her a short while, when Thea suddenly disappears, P.J. is quick to be suspicious.
Aware that a crime gang-lord has been seen in the area, P.J. immediately sees a bigger picture than others for Thea’s disappearance. When Thea’s body is discovered P.J. wants to know what happened. The initial thought is that her death was accidental drowning, but P.J. isn’t buying it. Thea Farrell was an award-winning swimmer.
P.J. Crowe has no fear. His life is crashing down around him making him a dangerous foe. As he delves deeper into the murky goings on in Roscarrig, he discovers a viper’s nest of activity. Was Thea Farrell an accidental victim or was it murder?
A Kind Of Drowning was originally supposed to be a short story but Robert Craven soon discovered that he had more to say. At approximately 170 pages, it is a self-contained novella but also, I am assuming, a launch pad for Detective P.J. Crowe. It feels like an introduction to this erratic individual who will fight for justice and take no prisoners. It’s a satisfying read, with the ofttimes antagonistic, and cranky, P.J. Crowe easily winning over the hearts of all. He is most certainly a grumpy character, with major issues to sort, yet his heart seems very much in the right place. A quick and entertaining read with a rather dramatic ending, A Kind Of Drowning has a slightly off-beat feel to it, with P.J. Crowe’s dark wit reminding me of Caimh McDonnell’s Bunny McGarry (of The Dublin Trilogy).
‘A KIND OF DROWNING is a noir novel – a Chandleresque, Ken Bruen, Hammett, and Spillane dark in its concept. I wanted the characters to grow through dialogue rather than actions and I wanted to stay clear of the technical and procedural jargon and let the story evolve through Crowe’s eyes.’ Robert Craven
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