Portmanteau, by Sheffield author Paul Beardow , is not going to be an easy book to review - but don't worry, it's for all the right reasons. The thing is, there are so many twists and turns, so many WTF just happened moments and I don't want to spoil a single one of them.
The story revolves around Psychic Investigator Harry Macadam and his team at the Portmanteau Investigations Agency and a missing person case. Each member of Portmanteau has a different kind of 'Psychic Ability'. You've got a hacker who can find anything on any computer, a guy that can 'wind back time, like a film to see what happened at certain points and others that you will come across as the story progresses. As often happens the missing person case links to a dead body pulled from a river and links that Harry and co. discover lead back to a truly despicable underworld trafficking ring. When you throw Harry's personal/home life into the mix you get a good depth of story and a decent feel for believable characters.
I must say I found this a remarkable story. I was drawn in from the start (I finished it in a couple of days) and from early on there was a sense of something being 'not quite right'. When the twists, turns, revelations came however they were certainly not what I expected. Many times I found myself backtracking as I thought 'if that just happened then that earlier thing could not have just happened' - but thanks to the clever writing and planning by the author I was proved wrong. He even pulled off one death scene (I'm trying not to spoilerise things, but, 'hey, it's a thriller, people die in it' isn't totally unexpected) that many authors would not have managed. Harry's is a crazy world that makes a lot of sense.
For me, the sign of a good story is something that keeps you thinking long after the final page and a week after I finished I'm still on the 'did he really just do that?' track
This is a novel of layers and I believe it will benefit from a reread before the second Harry Macadam story comes out later this year.
I've thought long and hard about the star rating and have decided.............(Drum Roll)............
4.3 out of 5 stars - An interesting, puzzling 'onion' of a book from a first time author with a lot of promise. I look forward to reading more from Mr. Beardow