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  • Writer's pictureIan Ayris

Death of a Diva by Derek Farrell

The Blurb

Danny Bird is having a very bad day. In the space of just a few hours he lost his job, his partner and his home. 

Ever the optimist, Danny throws himself headlong into his dream to turn the grimmest pub in London into the coolest nightspot south of the river. Sadly, everything doesn’t go quite as planned when his star turn is found strangled hours before opening night. 

Danny becomes the prime suspect in the crime, and then the gangster who really owns the pub starts asking where his share of the takings has gone… it seems things are going to get worse for Danny before they get better. 

The Review

Lyra Day – the Diva of the title – legendary singer and erstwhile goddess of Saturday night telly – is making her long-awaited come-back – in Danny Bird’s grotty Southwark boozer. Lyra Day is an awful woman – think a coke-addicted Shirley Bassey with a tongue sharp enough to cut glass and the unpredictability and temper of a tiger with a toothache. Danny and his best friend, the brilliantly drawn Lady Caz; Ali the long-suffering barmaid; and Danny’s Tweedle-Dum and Tweedle-Dee nephews have pulled out all the stops, just about managing to meet Lyra’s every need. But then, just before the show is about to start, Lyra goes and gets herself strangled in her dressing room, and the knives are out for Danny Bird.

Can Danny find the killer? He knows it wasn’t him. But that’s about all he does know. And with the list of suspects confined to almost everyone on the planet Lyra ever came into contact with, tracking down the killer isn’t going to be easy.

What follows is a brilliantly comic, genuinely moving tale of greed, hatred, deceit and, most of all, love.

Derek Farrell’s prose pops and fizzes right off the page, in turns bitingly, gut-wrenchingly hilarious, and others dripping with pathos and vulnerability – all of it brilliantly written.

The following passage is typical of the brilliance of the writing throughout:

The face that peered out at us was silver and gaunt and seemed to exude malevolence. The cheekbones pressed against tight shiny skin as though the skull was trying to escape from its covering and a pair of tiny black eyes glittered angrily. The head sat atop a neck which seemed to be surrounded by a tight red choker necklace; but a second glance told me that what I was looking at were the scars left by some sort of serious throat surgery.

Gollum stared at us malevolently, then lifted a device to his throat. The black torch-like object picked up the resonance of his speech and turned it into a weirdly distorted whining synthesised noise that was somewhere between the voice Professor Hawking had used for his famous lectures on quantum physics and the one Cher had used for the chorus of Believe.

“You the council?” He asked.

“Um, no,” I said, finally finding my voice.

“Then fuck off,” he said and slammed the door.

Just magnificent. But as I alluded to earlier, this book is not just funny. Danny Bird is a wonderfully vulnerable character, and parts of the storyline – Danny’s in particular – are genuinely moving.

And, if there needed any more convincing to buy this brilliant book, the rock that holds it all in place is a thumpingly good whodunnit of the highest order that had me guessing right till the very end.

Death of a Diva by Derek Farrell is the first of four Danny Bird novels. All four are available from Fahrenheit Press here:


Fahrenheit Press are currently offering a free paperback of your choice for every two paperbacks bought, for the whole of August.

All ebooks are currently HALF PRICE, meaning you can get all four Danny Bird novels for under a fiver. I highly recommend you do so.

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