Into Dust

Into Dust by Jonathan Lewis

The Minister for Defence is blown to smithereens in his car on a lonely road in the Brecon Beacons, where he has a weekend hideaway. DI Ned Bale is on the crime scene within seconds, but neither he nor forensics can work out how on earth the crime was committed, let alone who did it, or with what motive.

That is until one fingerprint is found on one tiny fragment of the explosive timing device. The fingerprint of Ned Bale’s closest ally in the Force, dog handler Kate Baker. But how on earth could her fingerprint be on a terrorist’s bomb. Far away on bomb disposal duty in Afghanistan, Kate has to be questioned.

But Kate herself has become involved with someone extremely plausible, attractive and dangerous. The mystery which unravels through this gripping thriller is completely unexpected.

Into Dust by author Jonathan Lewis served as my introduction to the DCI Ned Bale series and I have to say I found Bale such an engaging character that I didn’t want this particular story to end! A thoroughly entertaining storyline that spends as much time in Wales – Brecon Beacons – as it does in Afghanistan and Camp Bastion – located in Helmand Province – it captured my imagination with a combination of Welsh sheep grazing in the national park and flat jackets on patrol in Afghanistan fighting the Tali-Tubbies!

I have to admit when I first read the book jacket discovering that the serving Minister of Defence had been targeted and killed in the Brecon Beacons I hurried into reading, for Into Dust was the first book I’ve had chance to read set in Wales in a number of years, not to mention the modern and relevant storyline featuring fictional serving soldiers in Afghanistan, this was quite clearly a win win situation for me…and not to mention the slaying of a serving Minister of Defence!

The narrative is well written and intensely powerful in parts; Lewis capturing the atmospheric tension found on patrol in Afghanistan with ease and effortlessly transporting the reader to the dangerous occupation of those serving in the heat of the desert. Although I found the odd scene a little sedentary, struggling on occasion to get my head around some points, I found Into Dust a highly entertaining detective novel served with copious amounts of “compo carbonara” and more than enough problem solving to satisfy the most critical of readers.

He wasn’t worried. He wasn’t sweating. Everything had been checked. The gear was battle-tested. The hole was easier to dig than he’d thought. He just had to stay awake. It had been a long night. That would be bad, if he fell asleep.

Characterisation, one of the key ingredients to any fictional novel, is confidently delivered but it was the wonderful array of quirky names that did it for me – Jan Span, Captain Sillytoes, Fatso, Doc Bones and of course the enigmatic and rather eccentric Extra Bilge – and numerous others including his love interest WPC Kate Baker, affectionately known as The Dog Tart!

Along with a crisp and humorous dialogue I felt as if I could sense the author’s personality flowing  and references to Sherlock Holmes, Moriarty and the numerous intelligence agencies throughout the world served to heighten my enjoyment. Although Baker and Bale’s relationship is examined in every detail – with an inevitable love interest – it was Bale’s working relationship with Extra Bilge that fascinated me. Bilge’s motto should read “why use one word when a thousand will do?” for this endearing character is never one to use words sparingly, much to the playful annoyance of Ned Bale and his colleagues and of course yours truly! I found myself smiling on numerous occasions when the pair were trying to solve the disappearance of the main suspect in the welsh mountains. Bilge is without hesitation incredibly moreish!

An excellent read, Into Dust certainly delivers on all accounts and if you’re looking for a book that combines the military with good old fashioned police detection then this is one for you. Jonathan Lewis will take you to Camp Bastion, – where you’ll experience an enforced lockdown when one of their own is killed in action – Wales and the odd secret location as his protagonist attempts to solve the unsolvable and sort out his love life at the same time!

Published by Preface (Random House) and available in Paperback and Kindle Format.

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