Book - Shoot: An F.X. Shepherd Mystery

Steve Taylor-Bryant finds fact bleeds into fiction as he reads Shoot: An FX Shepherd Mystery by Kieran Crowley, thanks to Titan Books...


F.X. Shepherd is juggling a new job as a PI, while keeping up with his strangely popular pet column for his new employer, the New York Daily Press. With the Republican convention in town, Shepherd is hired to investigate death threats made against a congressman, which may be linked to the escalating war between the mainstream Republicans and Tea Party extremists. A series of inexplicable political murders—not to mention a small drone strike—ratchets up the stakes, and Shepherd has to solve the case while fending off his ultra-liberal parents, tenacious reporter Ginny Mac, and a gang of mysterious gunmen…"

I thought I recognised the author's name when this review copy of Shoot arrived from our friends at Titan Books but whilst the name, Kieran Crowley, rang a bell I knew I hadn't read an F.X. Shepherd novel before. It turns out I knew the name for more real life reasons and Kieran Crowley was the journalist that cracked the code in the Zodiac killings. His investigative work also led to the arrest of serial killer Robert Shulman, and he regularly found evidence in crime scenes that had been missed by policemen including, once, an actual murder weapon. I had read his non-fiction book on the Zodiac killings, Sleep My Little Dead, and one his previous books, The Surgeon's Wife, so I knew with Shoot I was in for a treat. And I really was treated.

Having not read Hack, the first of the Shepherd books, I was worried that I wouldn't be able to pick up who was who but, within just a couple of pages, I knew exactly what was going on and was kicking myself for not having read Hack anyway. What you get with Shoot is a brilliant novel of investigative journalism, detection and politics (both actual politics and relationship politics) and, as if that wasn't enough, Shoot is laugh out loud funny. It's satirical, it's close to the bone, it has genius levels of intrigue and is written with such a flowing style it's virtually impossible to put down. I often read a book, a really good book, more than once but with Shoot it's the first time I've ever got to the last page and immediately started again. Crowley had me in the palm of his hand from start to finish and there isn't one flaw in the whole book. The action scenes are incredibly well written, the humour, both subtle and over top, is heart warming in a day and age where a good laugh is hard to come by, but at no point did the ridiculous nature of some of the characters, the gun toting Sarah Palin-esque Republican at the convention was hysterical, ever overpower what was a really important narrative.

Sadness fills my life now as we unfortunately lost Kieran Crowley this year aged just 66 and there won't be anymore F.X. Shepherd books, unless Titan or someone are sitting on an unpublished manuscript and that is a real shame as Shoot is a stunning book. By far and easily my book of the year and I already have Hack arriving by carrier drone just so I have the complete set.

Image - Titan Books

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