A signed hard back copy of “Girl Zero”, Harry Virdee’s second descent into the dark underbelly of the author, A.A. Dhand’s, Bradford, has been waiting patiently on my TBR – to be read – pile since its hometown launch in the summer of last year.
She has overwintered amid other novels, both physical and digital, as the stack of books has steadily grown. She has continued to catch my eye, enticing me with her shine and her lustre while I have conspired with other novels. All the time she has beckoned to me, tempting me beneath her glossy cover and into her gritty pages, calling me back into the heart of Virdee’s streets of darkness.
As a keen reader, I’m a magpie when it comes to books – I’m drawn to shiny, crisp books, ever keen for new novels and fresh authors to explore. That’s why my stack of TBR’s keeps growing and why, shamefully, I sometimes take a while to make good on my promise to read a title. After a brief lull in my reading routine, the lure and pull of “Girl Zero” proved irresistible and so, finally, this magpie plucked this jewel from the pile.
The story begins with our hero, DI Harry Virdee, attending the discovery of a young woman’s body. On arriving at the scene, he discovers the victim is his niece, Tara. It falls on Harry to break the news to his family – a family that disowned Harry because of his marraige to Saima, a Muslim – and to prevent his brother Ronnie, Tara’s father and Bradford’s most powerful crime lord, from seeking revenge. Harry soon discovers links between Tara’s murder and the disappearances of a series of vulnerable young girls.
Harry has to fight demons from his past as he struggles with faith, family loyalty and his duties as a police officer, brother, son and husband in his hunt for Tara’s killer. And he has just 48 hours to do so before another girl goes missing.
As with the first book in the series, “Streets Of Darkness”, the action – and this book is heavy on the action – takes place in and around Bradford. Dhand, a local lad, born and raised in the city, renders his locations with a vividness you can almost taste and feel. The writing is snappy, the dialogue is fabulously filthy and funny in equal measure, the scenes crack along with energy and pace. The characters, especially Harry and Ronnie, rise from the pages and pull you along in a whirlwind of storytelling.
I callled our first foray into A.A. Dhand’s city of Bradford, into his dark and brooding Gotham, “an absolutely terrific read” and I was “looking forward to being led, very soon, back onto his streets of darkness.” With this second installment, Mr.Dhand has not let me down.
Thankfully, I hear that soon – June 28th this year, I believe – DI Harry Virdee will,conce again, be on hand to lead us through his dark and dangerous streets as we enter his “City of Sinners.”