Friday 3 May 2024

Death Department - Bill Knox - Thane and Moss Book 2

Death Department
Thane and Moss Book 2
Bill Knox
J.D. Kirk (Forward)
ISBN 9781912767809

Department of Death - Bill Knox  forward by J.D. Kirk - Thane and Moss Book 2

I picked up book 1 in this series, Deadline, because J.D Kirk was plugging it. I became even more interested in reading the book and series after reading the forward by Kirk, in volume 1. I feel that forward should be in each of the volumes so that if someone randomly starts the series they will get that excellent background. I picked up this volume as soon as it released, but it got lost in the plethora of titles on my kindle, and I only started reading it when Book 3 released, and brought it back to mind. I highlighted a few passages in Kirk’s introductory note from book 1, they are:

“I had been expertly drawn into the world that Bill had created, and was right there alongside detectives Thane and Moss as they carried out their investigations. I had identified with the detectives right away–the imposing Chief Inspector Colin Thane, with his no-nonsense attitude and dogged determination, and his trusty Inspector, Phil Moss, whose loyalty to his friend was second only to his worries about his grumbling ulcer. They immediately felt like real people. More than that, they felt like real Scottish men, whose evident care for one another was masked beneath gruff exchanges and barbed banter.”

“Yes, some of the terminology was different, and there was a lot less swearing in Bill’s book, but down below the surface, down where it mattered, we were both writing about good but complicated men doing their best to bring killers to justice.”

“Aside from the slight change to the title, and a few ten-thousand-word chapters being broken into shorter segments, the book you are about to read is the same one first published in 1957.”

The fact that Kirk though these books were good enough to spend some time and effort tracking down the rights and bringing them back into print indicates the quality of the writing and the power of the stories. This novel was originally published in 1958 and this Zertex edition is from 2024. The description of the new edition is:

“Every secret has its price.

Return to the gritty, fog-choked streets of 1950s Glasgow in Bill Knox's, Death Department, the second thrilling case for detectives Thane & Moss.

From the mind of one of Tartan Noir's original masters, this gripping tale weaves through the bustling aisles of a Glasgow department store, where a seemingly ordinary case of organized shoplifting spirals into a shocking, brutal murder.

Thane and Moss find themselves in a race against time, as their relentless hunt for justice leads them deeper into Glasgow's underworld, with every clue and twist drawing them closer to a final chilling confrontation.

More than just a crime novel, Death Department is a stark exploration of the extremes of human nature, set against the backdrop of a city wrestling with its own identity.

Rediscover this essential piece of Scottish crime fiction history, from one of the grandfathers of Tartan Noir.”

This second volume in the series was just as interesting as the first. It was with great interest that I dove into this series after reading all of Kirk’s Scottish crime novels that were available to date; and having read Alex Smith’s DCI Kett novels and J.E. Mayhew’s DCI Will Blake Series. It was fascinating to read this story and series set nearly a hundred years earlier. It was intriguing reading stories before cell phones, and technology that so many modern crime books and shows rely on. But back to the work at hand.

I really enjoyed the characters of Thane and Moss. And in this one we get an even closer look at them and their process of working crimes. This one starts out as robberies at a local department store, thefts of a magnitude beyond a normal year over year growth, and increasing each week. They are very reminiscent of DCI Logan and DI Ben Forde. The language is not as extreme as in Kirk’s books. But the team, and working to solve the case, especially after the body is found. The characters are fascinating. And while reading it, it is like being transported back in time. The story moves at a good pace, not as brisk as book one, and a lot more old gumshoe or leg work in this one. But we watch as they focus on the small details and clues that are then worked on open up the case. 

The story again leaves you wanting more. Kirk has already announced book 4, Leave it to the Hangman. And I sincerely home he sees this series and maybe other series by Knox through to publication. Reading this was in some was like watching Mike Hammer with my dad, or reading his old Ian Fleming or Robert B. Parker books. I have already recommended the book and series to my dad, my manager at work and a few friends. I can easily recommend this story for fans of crime fiction, historical fiction or to be honest anyone who loves a good story. But be warned it leaves you wanting more, fortunately I believe there are 25 volumes in this series from the pen of Knox alone.

Books by Bill Knox:
Thane and Moss:
  aka In at the Kill
3 Leave It to the Hangman (1960)
4 Little Drops of Blood (1962)
5 Sanctuary Isle (1962)
  aka The Gray Sentinels
6 The Man in the Bottle (1963)
7 The Taste of Proof (1965)
8 The Deep Fall (1966)
  aka The Ghost Car
9 Justice On the Rocks (1967)
10 The Tallyman (1969)
11 Children of the Mist (1970)
  aka Who Shot the Bull?
12 To Kill a Witch (1971)
13 Penalty Shootout (1973)
  aka Draw Batons
14 Children of the Water (1974)
15 Rally to Kill (1975)
16 Pilot Error (1977)
17 Live Bait (1978)
18 A Killing in Antiques (1981)
19 The Hanging Tree (1983)
20 The Crossfire Killings (1986)
21 The Interface Man (1989)
22 The Counterfeit Killers (1996)
23 Blood Proof (1997)
24 Death Bytes (1998)
25 The Lazarus Widow (1999)

Webb Carrick Series:
1. The Scavengers (1964)
2. Devilweed (1966)
3. Blacklight (1967)
4. The Klondyker (1968)
  aka A Figurehead
5. Blueback (1969)
6. Seafire (1970)
7. Stormtide (1972)
8. Whitewater (1974)
9. Hellspout (1976)
10. Witchrock (1977)
11. Bombship (1980)
12. Bloodtide (1982)
13. Wavecrest (1985)
14. Dead Man's Mooring (1987)
15. The Drowning Nets (1991)
Talos Cord Series (as by Robert MacLeod)
Cave of Bats (1964)
Lake of Fury (1966)
  aka The Iron Sanctuary
Isle of Dragons (1967)
Place of Mists (1969)
Path of Ghosts (1971)
Nest of Vultures (1972)

Jonathan Gaunt Series: (as by Robert MacLeod)
1. A Property in Cyprus (1970)
  aka A Flickering Death
2. A Killing in Malta (1972)
3. A Burial in Portugal (1973)
4. A Witchdance in Bavaria (1975)
5. A Pay-off in Switzerland (1977)
6. An Incident in Iceland (1979)
7. A Problem in Prague (1981)
8. Mayday from Malaga (1983)
9. A Legacy from Tenerife (1984)
10. The Money Mountain (1987)
  aka A Flight from Paris
11. The Spanish Maze Game (1990)
Andrew Laird Series (as by Robert MacLeod)
All Other Perils (1974)
Dragonship (1976)
Salvage Job (1978)
Cargo Risk (1980)
Witchline (1980)
The Cockatoo Crime (1958)
Death calls the shots (1961)
Die for Big Betsy (1961)
Court of murder: Famous trials at Glasgow High Court (1968)
The View from Daniel Pike (1974) (with Edward Boyd)
Storyland Wall Frieze (1981)
Country Club Wives (1997)
A Cut in Diamonds (1997)
Drum of Power (1998)

Deadline - Bill Knox  forward by J.D. Kirk - Thane and Moss Book 1

Department of Death - Bill Knox  forward by J.D. Kirk - Thane and Moss Book 2

Leave it to the Hangman - Bill Knox  forward by J.D. Kirk - Thane and Moss Book 3

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