Serial killings and strange sisters, hard as nails hit men and shady superiors, sleazy blues and sometimes seedy sex; A Last Act of Charity is about a set of characters loosely connected by a plot that lurks in the shadows of blues clubs, back-street industrial estates and cheap hotels. Investigator JJ Stoner is charged with finding out who is behind a series of killings. The harder he looks the more threatened he becomes, and the stranger the people who cross his path.
A Last Act of Charity is Frank Westworth’s first full-length novel (and for those browsing Amazon and missing the tactility of books in a book shop, it’s a chunky, weighty, four hundred pager with real substance) and it mixes grim and dark crime scene action with sticky-floored music venue philosophising in a way that shouldn’t work but does. Sex and drugs and rock and roll are all here, along with a couple of Harley-Davidsons, some VW Transporters and quite a lot of blood and other bodily fluids.
The story inhabits a sub-culture just a couple of shadows away from our every day lives; a world we perhaps fear exists but that is made real by Frank’s writing. The plot feels less important than the characters, but by the time I was a third of the way into the book I’d started caring more about the players in the drama than the drama itself, and the interplay between the protagonists involved me more and more. I don’t know whether I’d like any of them if I met them in real life, but when the book ended I was left wondering where things went next.
There are twists and turns, there’s an unexpected ending, but most importantly there’s a promise of more to come.