It's a typical cold November night and Detective Sergeant Dennis Milne, a very atypical policeman, waits in the Traveller's Rest Hotel parking lot for the arrival of three men. Cynical and jaded, Milne earns money on the side by doing what he does best: punishing the bad guys. But this time he's been duped. Instead of blowing away drug dealers, he kills three innocent people, their deaths starting an investigation that sees him and his conscience heading for trouble.
Less than twelve hours later, Milne is out on the streets again. Eighteen-year-old Miriam Fox has been found dead by Regent's Canal---her throat slashed. Desperate to find Miriam's killer, Milne uncovers a web of depravity far more shocking than he could ever have imagined. Can he evade arrest for his own crimes and solve a case so sickening that it may provide the key to his personal redemption?
The clock is ticking and everyone's watching their backs as a war of morality is fought in the mind of one renegade policeman in Business of Dying---the gripping first novel by talented young crime writer Simon Kernick.
British author Kernick shows every sign of being a major talent in his debut novel, a gritty, noir police procedural. Seemingly a cold-blooded hit man, Dennis Milne turns out to be a London detective sergeant committed, after years of dealing with sordid crimes and mind-numbing cruelty, to pursuing justice as he defines it. Milne's personal code of ethics is compromised when he learns that his latest victims weren't the drug dealers whose deaths wouldn't burden his conscience but two customs agents and an accountant. His decision to spare the life of a potential eyewitness places him in jeopardy both from his colleagues on the force and from those who paid him for the killings. At the same time, Milne doggedly tries to identify a young hooker's murderer, and persists in rejecting the official theory of the case. Kernick does a masterful job of making Milne sympathetic, despite his callous brutalities, by combining a captivating first-person narrative with emotionally complex characterization. The portrayal of the harsh realism of the mean city streets is complemented by the revelations of the secret lives of the supporting characters with their masks of public respectability. Powerful prose, tight plotting and a clever fair-play puzzle add up to a remarkable first effort.