Genre fiction can sometimes be a bit predictable but often that is why we buy it: because we know what we are getting and we become attached to the characters. Crime series in particular fit this description, but sometimes a new voice appears which is a little bit different. Jellyfish by Lev D Lewis is such a debut novel, featuring the Philip Marlowe-obsessed private investigator Frank Bale.
Frank is a solicitor who lost his legal career because he liked the girls too much. Now he works as a PI but most often as a process server, tracking down individuals and giving them the legal papers they do not want to receive. But he longs to be a PI like Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe. Classic detective fans will love this novel, I am sure there are loads of Marlowe references I missed. I love Frank’s wry turn of phrase, such as the goon who has a face ‘a bit wonky, like it had been painted on by children.’ But Frank doesn’t just have a smart mouth, there are hidden depths: he prefers the radio to television, he knows his Doric columns from his Ionic, but beneath the swagger is a gentle man. Frank’s dilemma is that when he gets into trouble, his smart mouth makes it worse.
One day he serves divorce papers on a wife who subsequently hires him to photograph her cheating husband. Frank stumbles onto a dodgy lap-dancing club and a dead body and quickly finds himself the main suspect. Sky, the dead girl, was living a double life: law student by day, exotic dancer by night. Investigating Sky’s life, Frank meets her flatmate Shreeti and the two set out to uncover the real murderer. Shreeti is the calm member of the team which is just as well as they find themselves drawn into the underbelly of South London, searching for a murderer amongst jellyfish which do more than sting.
A refreshing new voice.
Read more about Lev D Lewis and Frank Bale here.
If you like ‘Jellyfish’, try these other hard-boiled detective novels:-
‘The Big Sleep’ by Raymond Chandler
‘Set in Darkness’ by Ian Rankin
‘The Maltese Falcon’ by Dashiell Hammett
‘Jellyfish’ by Lev D Lewis [UK: Alleyway Press] Buy at Amazon
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