Dial 999 by HL Raven

I bought this from the author at a goth festival a few years ago, on reflection thought it was probably pretty crap and so it’s sat on my shelves. After being bogged down in some longer books I thought I’d have a go at the novellas.  I half expected this to be so bad as to be unreadable.

And was pleasantly surprised.  It’s about an American, Jon Hunter, who has moved to London in 1977 for the punk scene, to find that it’s not really any different to the punk scenes in the US in a lot of ways.   (He’s a philosophical punk and had hoped to get away from a scene that was more about drugs than changing the world.  I related to this a whole lot).  He and his friend work on a record stall in a market off the King’s Road.  In the opening chapter he’s at a party and a girl dies of a heroin overdose but she was a user anyway so nobody thinks anything of it.  A second acquaintance dies similarly shortly thereafter, but Jon only becomes aware that something is wrong when a clean-living, employed woman from his circle also dies of a supposed heroin overdose.

The police won’t listen because she was a punk, so it’s up to Jon and his girlfriend Mary to solve the murders, while trying to avoid getting beaten up by teddy boys, starting a fanzine, following up clues at gigs and hoping their crappy living conditions don’t kill them first.

This book is let down by some seriously shit typesetting, but it’s a really cute little mystery that I ended up quite liking.  I liked Jon and Mary a lot and have met so many people that are just like their circle of friends and acquaintances.  A lot goes on in a very small number of pages.  I was impressed.

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