Barbara Nadel

A Private Business

""Another Nadel winner in my book. " "


P.I. Lee Arnold and his new assistant, Mumtaz Hakim have a new client. She is a female stand-up comedian returning to the business after being away for some time. Her routine is very near the bone and will offend some people. When she begins to feel that she is being followed and watched she calls in Arnold and Hakim to help. Lee Arnold, as an ex-policeman, is not an unusual person to find as a private investigator, but his assistant is a rarer character to find in such a job. She is an Asian woman, a psychology graduate and a widow with a teenaged stepdaughter. She dresses smartly and with a sense of style, including headscarf.

Either one brings a different strength to the business. As Mumtaz settles in, she finds that her background opens up new clientele and her expertise in psychology is a definite plus. Living and working close to the Olympic Park in 2012 they are aware of the focus of attention of the world being on the area, but it still remains a place where crime is high and some people are desperate for money.

The client, Maria Peters, supports a Christian church, the pastor of which wants Maria to stop the comedy act as he feels it is sinful. Her friend, Betty, also wants her to give it up. As her producer is strongly urging her to continue Maria is pulled in two directions. As Lee and Mumtaz investigate the stalker, they find that there are many sinister influences at work and many people with vested interests in Maria's future.

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This is a new series for Barbara Nadel with two bright new investigators. They are great characters and I particularly liked Mumtaz Hakim. She is a very modern woman who is working out her position as an Asian woman in the society of East London where she lives. She has her own complicated life to follow and that provides a great deal of interest, but the way in which she moulds her new job is fascinating. Lee Arnold is a strong personality with a very British take on the hard boiled P.I. Setting the story in the East End, so well known to Barbara Nadel, is authentic and up to date as the newest wave of immigrants to the UK bed down and interacts with the old stagers. Anyone visiting the Olympics will be close at hand to all the action in the story. As always, Nadel brings the characters vividly to life and what's more makes you care about what happens to them. There are many in this book that I will want to follow up in the next instalment. Both Lee and Mumtaz have unfinished business in their private lives and the future of the business is also left at a crossroads. 'A Private Business' heralds a fresh and new direction for this diverse and extremely engaging author. Another Nadel winner in my book.

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