“You’re from an age before online banking and living off credit. You can track Benny down the old-fashioned way. And once you get the money back, you can do him the old-fashioned way as well.”
WhenThe Music’s Over (US) is a tale set in Birmingham’s gangland. It has good guys turning bad, bad guys staying bad and an ex-enforcer who comes out of retirement and isn’t sure which way to turn.
Harry Weir is a nasty piece of work. He’s a drug dealer who has become mean and complacent. He’s also the son of one of the bosses of Birmingham’s biggest crime syndicate. He meets his end at the hands of Benny Gower at the story's opening. Benny then steals from his bosses before doing a good job of covering his tracks with a move to Southampton.
Enter Wynn McDonald. Wynn’s an old-time crook with a big reputation. He is called up by gangsters Castle and Weir to track down Harry’s killer and to locate the cash that has disappeared. Wynn would be happy to stay away from his old business, but his ties are strong and his loyalties clear. As he investigates Benny, however, his feelings begin to change. No one has a bad word to say about Benny Gower and everyone seems to be rooting for the guy.
Wynn’s good at his job and soon has leads on Benny. The only thing he’s not sure of is how he’s going to clean up the situation at hand. A glimpse into Benny’s past life as a rock star and new information about the real reason his band never made the big time only serve to muddy the waters as Wynn becomes increasingly torn between doing the right thing and staying true to his past.
The ingredients of the story work well the ending is very satisfying. The characters are well-drawn and the setting is nicely created. To my mind, keeping the focus in the moment and tightening the prose a little could have added even more to the power and pace the work generates.
Overall, a fun and rewarding visit into dark territories. Definitely one for the list for fans of things Brit Grit.