Review of The Dead Pass by Colin Bateman


When Dan Starkey, Belfast-based PI, is hired to find Billy “the Bear” Doherty by his mother Moira, a former political activist, he knows that it will be a difficult task. Billy is a known criminal with a penchant for taking drugs, last heard of in Londonderry, the seat of where the “Troubles” began: a city which has spawned a new generation steeped in religious divisions and crime. It is winter and Dan has to cross the Sperrin Mountains by the Glenshane Pass in his unreliable motor as the weather deteriorates in order to begin his investigation. He is accompanied by Christine, a 15 year-old girl who has amassed a following proclaiming her to be the new Messiah. She wants to pay an unannounced visit to a church in Derry which needs her support.. or so she says.

They are marooned for the night in a pub on the top of the Pass as the snow falls relentlessly. The weather clears overnight and they are on their way, only for Christine to disappear shortly after their arrival in Derry. Dan is charged with trying to track her down by her guardian. Moira is found shot dead in the river the next day, having failed to meet Dan at the arranged place. With so much to do, Dan`s investigations take him to the dangerous heart of corruption, gangsters and terrorists in a Derry with which he had only just become acquainted.

A pithy, rugged and fast-moving read with Dan`s reflections on his own situation bringing a note of humour and pathos to the risky and often violent situations in which he finds himself. I thoroughly enjoyed the ride!

Reviewed by Liz.

Thank you to Headline for sending us a copy to review.