A Mersey Killing by Brian L. Porter is a taut little thriller that grips you from the very first page until its satisfying conclusion.
Set in two different time periods, the book begins with the introduction of Brendan Kane and the Planets, a pop group hoping to reach stardom like so many others in Liverpool at the onset of the ‘Swinging Sixties’. Performing at the legendary Cavern Club, the group skirts the fringes of success while trying to maintain their everyday responsibilities. The author conveys perfectly, the headiness of the times and the beginnings of the musical revolution about to take the world by storm.
It is quite a shift in tone from that initial introduction to be transported to 1999, where a body is found thanks to a reclamation project at the waterfront. From this point on, the two time periods run parallel to each other and when they finally converge, the reader has an idea of how things turned out for Brendan Kane and the Planets.
Nevertheless, just as the reader might feel comfortable with the direction of the plot, the book manages to surprise with an unexpected twist and a gut punch ending both satisfying as it is tragic.
As stated earlier, this is a tautly written book, with very little fat in between and this adds to the momentum. The characters are well formed and written so there is little need for elaborate back stories. Standouts are Brendan Kane, DI Andy Rose and Connie Doyle although the supporting characters are never interchangeable. The murder squad with Drake’s gallows humour, McLennan’s novice discomfort and Ferris’ family issues make each character memorable.
Special mention should be made of the author’s depiction of Mersey and the religious divide in post-war England.
I finished this book in one sitting and aside from one or two typos, was gripped for most of it. If you enjoy well-paced thrillers and interesting characters, A Mersey Killing will not disappoint. A thoroughly enjoyable read.