Throwback Thursday is a weekly meme hosted by Renee at It’s Book Talk. Throwback Thursday was designed as an opportunity to share old favorites as well as older books in our TBR. As I started reviewing on Goodreads long before I started my blog, it seemed a great way of sharing my earlier reviews (which I hope have improved since the early days).
So this week I’m revisiting The Ties that Bind by Erin Kelly reviewed in May 2014.
Luke is a true crime writer in search of a story. When he flees to Brighton after an explosive break-up, the perfect subject lands in his lap: reformed gangster Joss Grand. Now in his eighties, Grand once ruled the Brighton underworld with his sadistic sidekick Jacky Nye – until Jacky washed up by the West Pier in 1968, strangled and thrown into the sea. Though Grand’s alibi seems cast-iron, Luke is sure there’s more to the story than meets the eye, and he convinces the criminal-turned-philanthropist to be interviewed for a book about his life.
Luke is drawn deeper into the mystery of Jacky Nye’s murder. Was Grand there that night? Is he really as reformed a character as he claims? And who was the girl in the red coat seen fleeing the murder scene? Soon Luke realises that in stirring up secrets from the past, he may have placed himself in terrible danger.
I have never read anything by Erin Kelly before, but was aware that her books are well received by those in the know. When I got the chance to read this via NetGalley (in return for an honest review) I was delighted. When I looked at the subject matter, I will admit I was not so delighted as on the face of it, it would not have been my choice of reading – 60’s gangland is not my genre. However I was drawn in from the beginning and I loved it.
Luke has “escaped” to Brighton to stay with a friend, to avoid an obsessive partner, who refuses to accept that their affair is over. The friend, who works for a letting agency, puts him up short-term in a recently empty property that does not appear on the books. Thus starts a mystery that Luke is determined to get to the bottom of, especially when he discovers that the property and the company is owned by Joss Grand. Grand ruled the Brighton gangland in the 60’s, along with his lifelong friend Jacky Nye, whose subsequent murder at the height of their reign was never solved. The Joss Grand of the present day however, seems far removed from the Joss Grand of the past, but is he all he appears, and what was the truth of Jacky’s murder. Luke seizes the chance to investigate in the hope of resurrecting his journalistic career with a Truman Capote style book about Grand.
While on the face of it, Grand agrees to the idea of the book, it is clear he wants it written on his terms and not on Luke’s, who is still trying to uncover the truth about Grand’s past for himself. Luke’s search uncovers truths that he might wish he’d kept hidden and not just for the sake of Grand’s reputation, but for his own safety.
The book was fast paced and very well written, with an eye for detail relating to Brighton of the past as well as the present. Once I’d started it, I just wanted to get it finished to find out the truth. As with all good thrillers, there was a twist and I didn’t see coming, or at least not from the direction it came.
I would thoroughly recommend this book and now can’t wait to read the titles I’ve missed.