WHEN THE MUSIC'S OVER by Aidan Thorn - a review
When Benny Gower murders his business partner few people doubt his good reasons for doing so. Unlike Benny, it’s not as if Harry Weir was popular. But he was the heir to Birmingham’s most violent and dangerous criminal organisation.
For Wynn McDonald, dragged out of retirement for the sake of his old gangland accomplices, motive doesn’t matter. All he cares about is tracking down the nightclub manager turned killer. But before Wynn can extract necessary vengeance he’ll need to turn over every stone on his way to finding answers. And not everybody’s going to be happy with the truths that come crawling out.
When the Music’s Over is a classic crime story of winners and losers among the music, drugs and nightclubs of Britain’s second city.
These were the moments after Benny Gower's first murder:
Benny had taken his first life. That meant he had thrown away what was left of his, too. He;d known that the moment he decided Harry Weir had to die.
In the aftermath Benny wished he were one of those fabled natural killers. Did such people really exist? Did anyone really enjoy this? If he had a more natural instinct for this sort of thing, maybe right now he wouldn't have his head over Harry's toilet looking at the contents of his own stomach. He wasn't sure if it was the sight of blood sprayed anarchically over Harry's walls or the final release of the nervous adrenalin with the act itself. Most likely it was the fear of what he faced next.
Killing Harry Weir was only the beginning.
So the premise: Benny Gower kills Harry Weir - the son of local gangland boss, Terry Weir. Terry Weir, understandably, wants Benny dead. And he wants it done properly. Old style. So, out of retirement comes erstwhile enforcer Wynn McDonald.
With a set-up as solid as this, a cracking good gangland cat and mouse novel is sure to ensue. And it does. But this book is so much more.
Wynn, you see, is past his prime - well past his prime. His instincts are sharp as ever, but he is an old man. He's been out of the game a long time. He has still the ability to intimidate when needed, but physically he is frail and broken, breaking more and more as each day goes by. He coughs up blood. He knows he has not long left. And all of this gives Wynn a different outlook on life. Life used to be so simple in the kill or be killed world of Wynn McDonald. And when everyone Wynn encounters on his search for Benny Gower talks of Benny's generosity and kindness, how out of character it is for him to have harmed anyone, even a drug-dealing little shit like Harry Weir, Wynn knows life will never be that simple again.
WHEN THE MUSIC'S OVER is a brilliant crime novel written in a clear, confident style, with characters of real emotional complexity and a tightly constructed plot that kept this reader hooked and intrigued till the very end.
And the end?
Fans of crime fiction - particularly of the gangster variety - and all fans of Brit Grit will absolutely love WHEN THE MUSIC'S OVER.
As soon as I finished the final page, I wanted to read all about the shenanigans of Wynn McDonalds earlier gangland life, in the times he made his name. Because in Wynn McDonald, Thorn has a created a character that lifts this novel high above the pack.
It's that good.
WHEN THE MUSIC'S OVER is available from Fahrenheit Press in paperback here
plus you get a FREE Kindle copy if you order the paperback - as with all Fahrenheit Press books.
If you would prefer to just get the Kindle copy, you can do so here