The Rock (Sullivan and Broderick 1) by Robert Daws

Sun, sea, sand and murder…

😀 😀 😀 😀 😀

When Detective Sergeant Tamara Sullivan of the London Metropolitan Police steps outside the rules, she effectively stalls her career. Now she’s been sent on a three-month secondment to the Royal Gibraltar Police Force, which she sees at first as a form of punishment. But sun, sea, sand and friendly colleagues soon make her feel that as punishments go, this one could be worse. Meantime, two motorcycle cops chasing a thief are involved in a fatal accident in which a well-known and well-loved local resident dies. When one of the cops is later found hanged, the obvious conclusion is suicide, but Sullivan’s new boss, Chief Inspector Gus Broderick, isn’t so sure…

There seems to be a little spate of actors taking to writing crime novels at the moment and I’m always a little hesitant to read them if it’s an actor I like in case the books change how I feel about them. I’ve had a major soft spot for Robert Daws for many years. Partly this is because he’s a great character actor with a lovely sense of comic timing, and partly it’s because he tends to act in the kind of things I enjoy watching. He was a brilliant Tuppy Glossop in the Fry and Laurie version of Jeeves and Wooster. He starred with Brenda Blethyn in the wonderful comedy drama, Outside Edge, back in the ’90s. I even seem to remember him way back as one of the smaller roles in the fabulous Robin of Sherwood series in the ’80s. So I was a bit apprehensive to “meet” him in his new guise of crime writer.

However, I needn’t have worried! This is a very well written short novel that feels in many ways like the pilot episode of a TV series, so it didn’t surprise me to read in the afterword that it’s been optioned and is being developed for TV. The mystery in the book is a good one, with proper suspects and clues and a strong thriller ending. There’s a connected sub-plot about an old lady in a big house, with a dark secret in a room upstairs, which is beautifully creepy.

But as an introduction to a new series, the most important aspect is the development of the recurring characters – Sullivan, Broderick and their colleagues. And oh, how lovely that they’re all likeable, not too maverick, no known addiction problems, and get on well together as a team! That might make them sound dull, but they’re not – both Sullivan and Broderick will step over the line when necessary, but in the sense of taking risks to solve their case rather than in the casual beating up of suspects or being outrageously rude to superior officers, etc. More importantly, there’s an enjoyable vein of humour running through the book in the dialogue amongst the regulars, and Daws manages to make this sound very natural and realistic. Young DC Calbot, for instance, has a habit of saying things which could be mild innuendo but might just as easily be entirely innocent, and Sullivan’s inability to decide whether he’s doing it deliberately is fun.

Sullivan is single and reasonably happy to be so. Broderick was married, but now lives with his sister who helps him care for his younger daughter, a girl with Downs syndrome, an aspect of the story which Daws handles very well without any sense of mawkishness. Broderick is a bit grumpy on the surface and a little peeved to have been landed with this Met secondee with a dodgy reputation, but he soon begins to see that she’s a good officer and sets about bringing her fully into the team.

Robert Daws

Daws apparently knows Gibraltar well and he brings the setting to life. It’s an intriguing place, this bastion of Britishness set off the coast of Spain, and Daws makes a good start at showing its unique culture along with its natural beauty, though there’s plenty of room for further development of this as the series progresses.

Third person, past tense, very little swearing, hard-hitting crimes without being unnecessarily gruesome, interesting location – I thoroughly enjoyed this introduction to Sullivan and Broderick and am looking forward to reading the next in the series, The Poisoned Rock, soon. And, just in case any TV moguls are reading my blog, I think this would make an excellent TV series. Any chance of Mr Daws playing Broderick, please? Just askin’…

NB I won this and The Poisoned Rock from Urbane Press, via The Quiet Geordie‘s giveaway. Thanks again – much appreciated!

Amazon UK Link
Amazon US Link

42 thoughts on “The Rock (Sullivan and Broderick 1) by Robert Daws

  1. I had no idea Daws had written a book, FictionFan. And this sounds like a good ‘un, too. I like the setting already. And yes a thousand times to characters who aren’t mavericks, who don’t constantly battle demons, and so on. I much prefer characters who are more balanced, if that makes any sense.

    • Nor me, till I saw the post that The Quiet Geordie did! Absolutely – I felt I could happily go out for dinner with this bunch – always the test of good characters for me. I’m looking forward to seeing if the next book is just as good…

  2. This sounds great! I know what you mean though. I’m usually hesitant to read celebrity written books, because I’m not sure if they can write at all. Many times they didn’t write the book–a ghostwriter did. But I’m glad to see that Daws wrote his own book.

  3. It seems this publisher has a thing for actors who fancy turning their hand to writing! I breath a huge sigh of relief – I love Robert Daws (for the same reasons you describe above) and funnily enough was only wondering what he was up to a little while ago. I twinged when I read the bit about a Met officer stepping outside the rules… not that old cliche! But it seems it has all been handled very well and the characters sound well-written. I’m going to have a read of this, not because the story particularly grabs me as such, but because I have SUCH a soft spot for Daws 🙂

    • Yes, I thought they were our dear friend’s publisher too! It’s maybe a bit more on the cosy side than your usual reading fare, but I suspect you’ll enjoy it – it’s very well written and I thought the humour aspect was handled well. Not that it’s a funny book – just touches of humour to lift it. I do hope he ends up playing Broderick – it would seem so unfair if they cast anyone else…

  4. I’m so pleased you enjoyed it! I still haven’t got to mine yet, but I will do before September. If you’re interested, Hugh Fraser (who played Captain Hastings in ITV’s Poirot adaptations) is also published by Urbane.

    • I did, and am looking forward to reading the second one. I suspect you’ll enjoy it too – hope so! Oh, I knew he wrote crime novels, but didn’t realise that – I’ve heard his are much grittier… lots of sex and violence and stuff… 😱 Not what I expect from Captain Hastings at all! 😉

        • They’re not really my thing either, but I can feel my resistance weakening every day… I think I’m going to have to at least try one of them… But if I hate it, I won’t be able to review it. I could never bring myself to say anything mean about the lovely Hastings… 😉

  5. I’m so glad you read and posted about this one. Not sure I’ve read a book set totally at that location, though it may have appeared in bits of other books. And if you think it worthy, I suspect I will too. Might be a great change of pace book in between others.

    • I definitely haven’t read about Gibraltar before, so it was good fun “visiting” it – and plenty for him to expand on in future books. Yes, I found it one of those easy reads that was just straight-forwardly enjoyable – hope you do too, if you get a chance to read it.

    • Isn’t it always the way that we don’t visit the places near at hand? It sounds like a fascinating place, though, and an original setting for a crime series… 🙂

  6. Sounds like another good one to read, FF. Drat, you’re really wrecking my TBR of late, don’t you know. And here, I’m supposed to be writing books, too!!

    • Haha – I went through a spate of goodies one after the other for a bit – sorry! But just call it research and then you won’t feel you’re wasting time… 😉

  7. A new series, third person, past tense, minimal swearing, likeable, realistic characters, a plot – someone has been bugging my wish-list! 🙂

  8. I read your going review the day after American actor Sean Penn releases a heap of garbage he calls fiction. How embarrassing for Americans! I think James Franco released a horrible book a few years ago, too, but then he was accepted to a creative writing program, so maybe he’s improved?

    • I saw Sean Penn being interviewed about the book and frankly couldn’t understand what he was going on about. He sounded drunk, or so damaged by drink/drugs he was kinda slurring. It didn’t inspire me to read the book! I haven’t come across Franco’s – I don’t think I’ll search it out… 😉

  9. The Spike Sanguinetti series by Thomas Mogford is also set on the rock of Gibraltar, & features lawyer Spike who sorts out mysteries and injustices happening around the Rock, Spain & North Africa. It’s more gritty than the Daws series, but not unduly violent or bleak.

    • Oh, they look interesting too – thanks for pointing me in their direction! I always find Gibraltar intriguing because they seem to be more pro-British than the British… 😉

    • Oh, but this one’s only short… and there’s only three in the series so far. It’d be much worse if you waited till there’s ten or so and then had to add them all… 😉

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