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A little warning, there are a few teaser lines taken from the book, but I do not really view them as spoilers. I believe they are words that could easily coax you into reading the book like they did me.
I came to this book with the outlook that it was going to be a graphic novel, but being a Kindle copy there were no graphics. A bit of a shame because this will make one hell of a ‘Crime Comic’. What could be more exciting to a comic book fan, than a Spider who just happens to be a Private Detective, working the streets of Liverpool?
Merely reading the first few taster lines from the Amazon ‘Look Inside’ had me hooked. I didn’t view it as being a children’s book. Having read it I believe it will appeal to many age groups.
“The name’s Webb, Harry Web, unless you’re a judge then it’s Harold John Web’
…”I straighten my trilby, unhook my trench-coat from the coat-stand and slip my limbs in two by two. Which might seem a bit strange, an eight legger wearing a six legger coat, but it keeps the cost down and there’s a couple of limbs I don’t really use much anyway, so I just keep them tucked in out the way.”
I was smiling to myself as I read these first few lines, and I just had to read on. Other reviewers say, as they read the story they envisaged characters from ‘Bugsy Malone’ speaking the parts but for me, I heard Mickey Rourke (Marv from Sin City) or even Bob Hoskins (Down-on-his-luck Detective Eddie Valiant from Roger Rabbit). Almost the whole story played out in black and white for me.
The story centres on Harry, just waiting for that one big job that can lift him out of his debts. He generally prefers a job with minimal risks; unfortunately these only pay minimal fees and don’t cover his cost of living.
One day, out of the blue an unexpected job lands at his feet, Harry is hired by a high profile client, someone with secrets that need to remain secret. He says it’s
“A job that’s tougher than an overcooked steak and keeps me looking over my shoulder at every turn. As I start drawing up a list of suspects and motives, making more enemies than friends, I realise that my job isn’t the only thing at stake here, there’s my life…”
Harry manages to somehow gather information, I loved how his office is such a mess he doesn’t know where to put it all. After thinking about it for a while he decides he needs to get himself organised, he spins himself a little web and sticks the evidence up
“…I start arranging the papers and photographs on it, now when I need to look up information, I check on the web”.
This is a great novel fun and entertaining, fast paced with a well formed plot. The story is set in Liverpool before the time of The Beatles, the group are actually mentioned as ‘The Silver Beatles’ who Harry suggests would do much better if they were to drop the ‘Silver’. As with any Crime Fiction, there are car chases, good and bad cops (in this case called ‘The Buzz’), there are shoot-outs, in fact its action packed. Well worth a reading.
Well we already know the main character Harry Webb so what of his partner?
Freddie Finley was his partner but after a case gone wrong Freddie was never the same, one day he walked out of the office and never returned.
For four years Harry has been alone, he’s not the spider he used to be. Each day he enters the building where his dusty, paint flaking office is situated and tries to avoid his landlord Ron.
This day however he is unlucky as Ron is heading for him
“…as more and more of him squeezes through the small doorway, forming the shape of a vastly overweight slug dressed in casual slacks, a shirt and waistcoat. No tie or dickie. What he lacks on his head, he makes up for with a thick ginger moustache.”
Harry being rather smart manages to distract Ron and escapes to his office. His secretary, as usual is waiting for him it’s the afternoon now and she tells him he has missed the best part of the day. Harry tells us
“Penny’s my secretary.
…I thought that having a money spider around the place might bring me a bit of financial luck, so the saying goes, but so far zippo. Maybe the extra limbs might make for a better typist…”
Penny is dedicated to Harry, she must be, or why would she work for next to nothing? She comes across as a warm almost motherly figure trying to get him to smarten up thinking of his health & wellbeing.
Next we see the introduction of Marty Mac he disturbs Harry whilst he is ‘Meditating’ (in other words sleeping).
“I look up to see a young fly guy hovering on the other side of my desk, making an irritating buzzing noise. He’s wearing a waistcoat over a shirt and tie and a flat cap”
Marty is looking for a job, he’s tried all the other detective agencies but they have sent him on to Harry. Marty therefore reckons that Harry must be the best. He is a very comical character, a master of disguise you cannot help but adore him, with his little quips he comes out with. This tickled me when the pair was out investigating, dressed as telephone engineers. It was Marty’s job to keep the secretary occupied.
“I can see your problem right away ~ it’s the cupotee.”
“Cupotee” she asks
“I’d love one, milk no sugar thanks”
So next we come to the celebrity client, a local starlet on the rise to stardom, the singing sensation that is the beautiful butterfly Scarlet. Harry is reading all about her in the local rag when she turns up in his office
“I lower the newspaper as she lowers her dark glasses, and see the exact same butterfly doll from the poster standing in my office doorway. She looks pretty good in black and white, but in colour she shines like a rainbow against a gloomy sky.”
Scarlet being the rising star she is, goes nowhere without her trusty body guard Stag, great for hired muscle being a huge hulking beetle – but by no means the sharpest tool in the shed. He’s a bit pushy and forceful but then he’s only doing his job.
There are a whole host of other characters here’s a small selection:-
Feisty dragonfly extraordinaire Alex (Alexis) Holmon, female journalist in a man’s world, who demands to join Harry’s little team. She wants to cover the full story when & if Harry cracks the case.
There is cockroach Leon Findz
Iron Jaw (Geoff) – a large woodlouse with a shining metal jaw, owner of Iron Jaw’s nightclub where Scarlet made her debut.
And also a heavy set wasp called Sweeny, ex-military now working for the police or as they are called in the book ‘The Buzz’.
This is not quite all the characters but they are the ones that stick in my mind. One final one I do have to mention though is the ‘Armoured Police Caterpillar’ just imagine the fire power from one of those, especially with each limb heavily armed, that is some power.
So like I said this is a book well worth reading, it will appeal to children from 8 to 80. I absolutely loved it and cannot wait for the next thrilling case for Harry Webb the great spider detective.
Just to end, I like the quote from a little ant girl serving behind the bar in Iron Jaw’s, “Have you heard Cliff Richard?” That’s what clicked for me, why the name Harry Webb was familiar. Ask your parents who is Cliff Richard, if you don’t already know.
This book is a real page-turner, very highly recommended it achieves my highest rating of 3 roses.
Don’t just take my word for it, go grab a copy and read it for yourself. Happy Reading 🙂