Published by Moth Publishing
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Donovan’s debut novel, Behind Closed Doors, is one of the first novels published by Moth Publishing, and it does not disappoint. Contemporary crime novels are either renown for their elaborate and grand plots (Dan Brown anyone?) or ruled by already established authors (Harlan Coben and Val McDermid, to name a couple), a tradition that Donovan refreshingly breaks with remarkable success.
Behind Closed Doors follows private eye Eddie Flynn as he attempts to discover what really happened to Rebecca Slater, a teenage girl who falls mysteriously ‘ill’, whilst uncovering a covert network of criminal activity within London at the request of Rebecca’s best friend, Sadie. On this path to the truth about the disappearance of Rebecca, the reader is taken on a journey through the London backstreets with Flynn.
Donovan really succeeds in breathing life into a host of warm, witty and realistic characters – Sadie, Flynn and Arabel (Flynn’s girlfriend) in particular – who are responsible for some of the best dialogue exchanges within the novel. However, characters who appear fleetingly often fail to make it off the page, and can appear one dimensional – here’s looking at Rebecca herself – but overall Donovan really steps up to the plate in terms of character development and connectivity.
The plot itself is deliciously complex, without becoming too fanciful or unrealistic – by dealing with an array of real-life characters, Donovan creates a potentially real criminal plot, with a chillingly indifferent ring leader. Confrontation scenes are scattered through the latter half of the novel, and each one manages to make the readers hair stand on end as they are catapulted into the middle of the conflict with Flynn himself. Donovan manages to bring various locations to life, and his descriptions really contribute to the success of the novel. The whole methodology of the investigation is wonderfully in tune with the real workings – rather than simply dramatic shoot out after another. The author grounds his work and features some of the less appealing elements to investigations, such as the ‘stake outs’, yet the inclusion of these serve to make the character of Flynn more appealing, as well as adding an extra layer of realism to the novel itself.
The Northern Crime Competition of 2012 certainly chose the right winner. Behind Closed Doors is a wonderful debut novel in a hugely competitive market, and manages to create an enthralling novel which readers find themselves greatly drawn into – almost thinking themselves as Flynn’s partner. Michael Donovan deserves congratulating for this remarkable work, and this novel hopefully marks the beginning of a successful career.