Watch and yearn
The Name on the Bullet blog tour
As part of our week-long mini blog tour promoting John Dean’s latest DCI John Blizzard murder mystery, THE NAME ON THE BULLET, publisher Erik Empson contributes his thoughts on why it is such as good read. #thenameonthebullet
THE NAME ON THE BULLET by John Dean / 200 pp / available on Kindle, in paperback and hardback / published 3rd April 2023
As a publisher who has focused on crime fiction and murder mysteries in particular, I often get asked if I ever get bored of the genre. Far from it. In fact, when a new book comes in from an experienced writer like John Dean, I make sure I find the time to read it. Why? Because they are really enjoyable, for a start. But also because I’ve always liked watching skilled people do what they do best.
Facebook has learnt this, and apart from thousands of books in my feed, I am often served videos of things like bricklayers perfectly splitting a brick in two with the edge of a trowel, or plasterers leaving a perfect finish with one determined swoop, or bits of carefully sawn timber dovetailing together with hermetic precision. And reading one of John Dean’s books is a little like these attention-grabbing experiences.
He sets the scene: in this case his detective John Blizzard moaning to his old friend and boss about the publicity craving antics of a younger officer. He splits the brick and opens up the drama by having that officer unceremoniously killed. Thus in one swoop he has created a premise that asks a question about what will unfold that we want to know the answer to. The pieces are scattered: we don’t know why the officer is murdered – we even wonder if Blizzard himself might be involved – but we want to know, because as a reader we’re given something of a stake in the story. Gradually then, the author slots the pieces of the elaborate jigsaw into place. Not one on top of the other, like some teetering tower, but in a complex matrix of juxtaposed elements whose apparently irregular shapes only make sense in combination.
Like all of John’s books there are enough red herrings and surprises to keep the most eagle-eyed of armchair detectives on their toes. But what I particularly enjoy about them is how they observe a generational and cultural shift, that reflects our own journeys in life from young and brash, to hopefully old and wise. Detective Blizzard is driven to bring criminals to book, whom he has had a long rivalry with over the course of his career. But he also has a certain affinity with them, sharing a nostalgia of sorts for an older world where lines between right and wrong were clearer cut. We share Blizzard’s bewilderment at the state of the world, and egg him on to balance the scales of justice.
So what is so good about this book? We are invested in the story as in part it tells our own. Our frustrations when things don’t go our way, our silent satisfaction at the little victories when they do. We sort of know Blizzard will get his man. But we are rooting for him as, like his creator, he is skilled at what he does. And that should, by rights, pay dividends in the end.
THE NAME ON THE BULLET is the eleventh standalone murder mystery by John Dean to feature stalwart crime-solver DCI John Blizzard.
Free with Kindle Unlimited and available in paperback and hardcover.
Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0C1GNRDRS/
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0C1GNRDRS/
Amazon CA: https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B0C1GNRDRS/
Amazon AU: https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B0C1GNRDRS/