Brighton’s No. 1 Private Detective series by Tom Trott. Book One – You Can’t Make Old Friends


Blacklisted by the police. Being sued by a client. And broke. Things can’t get any worse for Brighton’s No. 1 Private Detective, Joe Grabarz.

That’s when his best friend’s body washes up on the beach.

Could it really have been ten years? What happened? How could his life have ended like this? He needs answers.

But with the city in the grips of organised crime, and struggling to deal with an influx of legal highs, who cares about just another dead drug dealer?

Joe, that’s who. After all, you can’t make old friends.

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My review

This is the first book in the Brighton’s No. 1 Detective series,and it makes for a great start.

Joe is in many ways your typical sardonic, damaged private detective. It goes with the territory that private eyes are hard characters, at least on the outside although usually all the way through, and impervious to pity, sympathy and any other good sort of emotion. Joe does betray the odd glimmer of humanity now and again, and he realises he could and should be more caring, which is what makes him likeable. He’s a loner with no apparent family and scarcely any friends. And he’s constantly hard up.   

This mystery is an intriguing one and introduces us to the low life of Brighton. This story couldn’t have been set anywhere else, since this seaside town, with its screaming gulls and stiff, salty onshore breeze, plays an intrinsic part in the novel. It’s almost a character itself, as are Joe’s assorted demons.

The book makes for a quick but absorbing read. There’s plenty of wry humour in the succinct and pithy imagery and observations. There’s pathos too, but we don’t have time to dwell on it as the action moves at a swift pace. All in all a very intelligent and polished novel.

Author Bio – Born in Brighton, I went to school in here, worked many jobs here, and have never lived anywhere else. I first started writing at school, where I and a group of friends devised and performed comedy plays for assemblies, much to the amusement of our fellow pupils. The young ones would cheer (and the old ones would groan) as we stepped up onto the stage, the buzz was tangible. It has been with me ever since.

As an adult I have written a short comedy play that was performed at the Theatre Royal Brighton in May 2014 as part of the Brighton Festival; Daye’s Work, a television pilot for the local Brighton channel; and won the Empire Award (thriller category) in the 2015 New York Screenplay Contest. I published my first novel, You Can’t Make Old Friends, in 2016; my second, Choose Your Parents Wisely, in 2017, my third, The Benevolent Dictator, in 2018, and now my fourth, It Never Goes Away, in 2019. When I’m not writing books, I’m writing about writing, books, and film on Medium.

My inspirations as a writer come from a diverse range of storytellers, but I have a particular love for the works of Raymond Chandler, Agatha Christie, Joel & Ethan Coen, Arthur Conan-Doyle, Daphne du Maurier, Alfred Hitchcock, Bryan Fuller, Ira Levin, Quentin Tarantino, Robert Towne, JRR Tolkien, and many many more books and films beside. If you can’t find me, or I’m not answering my phone, I’m probably at the cinema.

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