Review: "Breach of Privilege" by Graham Ison
Ison’s seventh DCI Harry Brock and DS Dave Poole mystery, Breach of Privilege
(2009), is a brisk Scotland Yard procedural with a high investigative IQ, minimal
characterization, and at least one well-timed surprise. When a Member of
Parliament, Hugh Blakemore, is gunned down on London’s Fulham Road, Brock and
Poole are pulled into a what appears to be a simple revenge killing – months
earlier, while touring a prison, Blakemore had killed a prison inmate
threatening him with a knife – but their thinking changes when whispers about a bribe-scheme involving Blakemore begin stirring. Blakemore’s wife, Anne, described as an alcoholic
and nymphomaniac, is a suspect, too. As
is Hugh’s side dish, a washed-up actress with her own secrets. But the suspect
list is long with viable candidates, including an American businessman, an old
cellmate of the prisoner Hugh killed, and a wannabe filmmaker bedding Anne.
Breach of Privilege is the first of Ison’s work I’ve read, and it was a pleasant experience. The investigative procedures had a quality of accuracy. It played out over months rather than days or hours, which is how I would expect a complex, multi-suspect investigation to go. The details were interesting – from witness interviews to suspect interrogations to the nuts and bolts of police work, like requesting FBI assistance from the US Embassy. An early clue was left dangling, which Ison cleverly explained late in the narrative: every answer to every question is rarely uncovered in an investigation, “[b]ut that’s police work for you.” The characterization is limited to what is required by the plot, including that of Brock (the narrator) and Poole; however, Ison’s women, particularly Anne Blakemore and DI Kate Ebdon, are a tad more developed than the men. Breach of Privilege was my first collaboration with Graham Ison, but I’m already planning another.
a little about Graham Ison…
Ison served with London’s Metropolitan Police for more than thirty years. His
service included time with Special Branch where he investigated espionage, including the escape of the double agent George Blake. Ison wrote more than
50 novels, including books in four mystery series: Gaffney and Tipper, Tommy
Fox, Hardcastle, and Brock and Poole. He died in late-2020.