cover image Fountain of Sorrow

Fountain of Sorrow

Paul Charles. Do-Not Press, $14.95 (230pp) ISBN 978-1-899344-39-0

Two men are dead--one with his throat torn out by a mad dog, the other brutally beaten by an extremely angry human--in Camden Town, Detective Inspector Christy Kennedy's patch of London and, not incidentally, a magnet for the young and trendy, and thus the pop music industry as well. Charles's (I Love the Sound of Breaking Glass; Last Boat to Camden Town) gritty, exuberant third mystery plunges readers straight into the scene and slang of Camden Town--which, once gotten used to, is oddly stimulating. (An appreciation for the music of Ray Davies, Jackson Browne, the Beatles or Oasis is helpful as well.) Beneath the brash patter, Charles has constructed a tricky, elegant plot--much like the novels of Ross Macdonald--in which the past intrudes on the present through horrific yet wholly believable events. The trials of Kennedy's relationship with the lovely, paradoxical, capital-letter-eschewing ann rea (""nicked from kd lang... who in turn had borrowed from ee cummings"") are interwoven with a brisk procedural surrounding the two homicides. A young woman's rape opens the novel, and words from the Beatles end it. In between, Kennedy, his sharp-dressing, Sean Connery-like Detective Sergeant Irvine, and the steadfast WPC Coles find that both victims were nasty lads with a superfluity of suspects with reason to do them in. The events of yesterday and today clash in a satisfying conclusion, while Kennedy and ann rea move forward into an uncertain future. Though readers may guess the outcome of various subplots before the official ending, the ride is exhilarating in this witty, unconventional tale. (Mar.)