A Private Business by Barbara Nadel

read by Paul Thornley

Refreshingly outré, A Private Business is peopled by an intriguingly unfashionable and unglamorous collection of punters, villains and investigators. Private detective Lee Arnold and his assistant Mumtaz Hakim tackle a selection of London villains in a manner that seems at first to be as much satire as social commentary. And it works magnificently.

It is 2012 and East London is undergoing a major tarting up courtesy of the approaching Olympic games. Hidden strategically from the ostentatious Olympic Park are the meanest of mean streets – streets of crime, bereft of  hope or optimism: a community destroyed by conflict and tension.

Arnold’s client is a celebrity horror show: an aging, spent, female stand-up comedian whose claim to fame, way back, was all the sexism and racism that she could get away with. It made her astoundingly rich and by the same token extraordinarily hated. Now a widow, she has joined a local church that has a highly dubious history and she is convinced that someone is entering her house and messing with her things: that she is being stalked.

It is a bumpy ride: bare and brutal – at times verging on the genuinely hysterical.

Ultimately, it is very bleak and very sad.

And Arnold and Hakim are a very welcome new duo to the crime-fighting genre.

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