I like Jim Knighthorse. I’d follow him round Waitrose if he lived in Shepherds Bush. Jim is a musclebound ex (American) football player turned Private Eye.
He’s got his angst, having not yet been able to solve his mother’s murder and has a drink problem which he is struggling to keep a handle on.
Balancing that is a ready wit, a sparkling personality and a tolerant attitude. Although it’s not PD James, Rain has created a fascinating world with believable characters and a strong sense of place.
In this second volume Knighthorse is called to the desert to investigate the death of a young researcher who was looking into the mystery of a 100 year old mummy; a body found with shotgun wounds but preserved by the desert’s heat and mineral properties.
As side stories, Knighthorse is helping his friend’s son Jesus (Knighthorse insists on pronouncing this in the Western Christian way rather than the proper Hey-Zeus, much to the annoyance of the boy’s father) track down the individual members of a gang of bullies who beat him up and allow Jesus to exact revenge.
Additionally, his girlfriend, an evolutionist biology lecturer whose name happens to be Darwin, has become the subject of vandalistic attacks by Fundamentalist Christians.
It’s a bit of dichotomy in perspective from the first volume where Knighthorse apparently regularly had coffee with God in McDonalds. I read that long before American Gods was on TV, a fact I only mention because I imagined Rain’s God to be Ian McShane.
God doesn’t appear in this one and Rain, perhaps purposefully, shows no sympathy to the Fundamentalist cause. It’s a shrewd touch, since too much God can be a little wearing, particularly for an atheist like me. I’d rather not have it in my escapism, but with Knighthorse I’ll make the occasional exception. Ian McShane does God very well and I’m looking forward to reading him again.
It’s a short and fast paced piece and quite addictive. It leaves me feeling better about the world and that can only be a good thing.
Will I read more? Oh definitely.
Jim Knighthorse may be a tad too handsome to be credible, six foot twelve or thereabouts, and as we are relentlessly reminded, he is BIG. It is little wonder then that he was an up and coming American Football star before his leg was shattered in half a dozen places and he became an apprentice PI in his father’s investigation agency. Knighthorse, despite this, has a snappy line in dialogue, is throughly likeable and seems to have met God (who calls himself Jack) in McDonalds.
Knighthorse is called upon by the defence attorney of a black high school student who is accused of killing his girlfriend. He has no alibi, the murder weapon was found in his car and there are no other obvious suspects, but Knighthorse believes he is innocent.
Rain cleverly reveals the dark side of Knighthorse’s personality slowly. Like all detectives he has angst; a drink problem, family issues, an urequited longing to be a football star and unresolved mysteries from the past.
I was pleasantly surprised by this. To a certain extent, it’s a lightweight bit of reading, but it employs clever and unusual elements and the dialogue snaps the action along like a comedy train. I should make clear that this is not a comic novel in any sense, but Knighthorse is a natural comedian who can charm or destroy with a well-turned phrase or two.
If I have any criticisms it is that possibly this could have been longer, giving the characters room to stretch a little and round themselves out. The denouement is somewhat rushed and lacks suspense, but on the whole it’s an entertaining piece of work.
The movie should feature Jason Statham as Knighthorse (He has no shining mop of blonde hair and he’s not American, but in Hollywood, he’s the best option they’ve got, and he does sarcasm really well) and Ian McShane as Jack. I think that would work.