Posted in Book Review, Books I have read

The Murder Bag – Tony Parsons

Crime Fiction 3*'s
Crime Fiction

This is the first of a new series by the former journalist and lad-lit writer Tony Parsons.

Starting with a prologue set in 1988 the story opens with a pack of boys and one young girl in a basement. The boys, all wealthy and attending a nearby public school have their fun and continue with their lives. The story then switches giving us a little bit of background to Detective Max Wolfe, a single father to Scout and co-parent to their dog Stan.

With Max Wolfe newly joining the murder squad at 27 Saville Row, London, he is launched straight into an investigation, the victim a banker found with his throat slit and the picture of him and his schoolmates which sits on his desk is splattered with his blood.

The book starts at a cracking pace with the bodies quickly mounting but this soon falters with a fairly predictable plot being hampered by the author’s research. Tony Parson’s was a little too keen to demonstrate his knowledge which didn’t always blend seamlessly into the plot. While the reader is treated to an explanation of a procedure or a bit of history the story seemed to sputter to a halt and although I did learn that the Imperial War Museum used to be Bedlam, and other interesting facts, it was too obvious I was being told something. In addition to this, I also struggled to engage with any of the characters, particularly Max Wolfe. Like many fictional Detectives he demonstrates his caring side away from work, his dialogue with his daughter is touching at time with the author tracking back to his previous genre detailing family life, however there was no real depth in his other relationships. Not with his colleagues, his superiors or the victim’s families. In fact I am struggling to describe any defining characteristics so if they were there I missed them.

This is an undemanding read, quite brutal but not up to the billing of being the next Peter James in this humble reader’s opinion.

I received my copy of this book through Amazon Vine and this review expresses my honest opinion


A book lover who clearly has issues as obsessed with crime despite leading a respectable life

14 thoughts on “The Murder Bag – Tony Parsons

  1. A good premise but not such a good read then? Crime fiction is not easy to do well, you need that balance of information and it sounds like Parsons hasn’t got it quite right…..


  2. Thanks for the honest review! Sounds like you have got to the heart of the problem – I find it so annoying when an author lacks the skill to get their message and/or knowledge across without a bit of subtlety.


  3. Great review! I read a couple of Tony Parsons books ages ago and they were okay but didn’t really wow me. Surprised he’s gone into the crime fiction genre.


  4. Well, I’m delighted that I can remove this one from the ‘maybe’ list, but sorry you didn’t enjoy it too much. Considering how snooty Mr Parsons apparently was about other crime writers, I can’t say I’m too sorry his book hasn’t met with universal acclaim.


    1. @FictionFan: has he been snooty about other writers? I wasn’t aware of it. This book was good, but not outstanding or anything like that. Decent genre fiction, nothing more, nothing less.


      1. Yes, apparently he said something along the lines that crime novels don’t have any ‘heart’ and so he was going to show them how to write a book that had ‘heart’ as well as great crime… hmm! I believe his comments caused a bit of a mini-storm amongst established crime writers.


    2. I was curious to see what this one would be like, but he didn’t get my seal of approval, it wasn’t awful but the characterisation was weak, interesting bearing in mind his claims. I’ll endorse you removing this from the ‘maybe’ list.


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