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Dead North

Sam Williams, Book 1
Narrated by: Andrew Calverley
Series: Sam Williams, Book 1
Length: 9 hrs and 35 mins
4 out of 5 stars (20 ratings)

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Summary

Two dead cops and a suspect who won’t talk.... 

Once the brightest star in the legal firmament, Sam Williams has hit rock bottom, with barely a client to his name and a short-term cash problem that's looking longer by the minute. So when he's summoned to Manchester to help a friend crack a case involving the murder of two unarmed police officers and a suspect who won't say a word, he jumps at the chance to resurrect his career. 

In Manchester, he'll struggle against resentful locals, an enigmatic defense lawyer who thinks he's stepping on her toes, beatings, corrupt cops, and people who'll do anything to protect their secrets. On its streets, he’ll see people die. But it's in the hills and valleys further north that Sam will face the biggest challenge of all: learning who he really is and facing down the ghosts of his past. 

He’s working someone else’s case, and he’s in way over his head. But sometimes, you need the wrong man in the right place.

©2018 Joel Hames (P)2019 Joel Hames

Critic reviews

“In Dead North, Hames’ lawyer turned accidental sleuth, Sam Williams, finds himself far from home and neck deep in Manchester’s seamy gangster scene. But what stands out in this intelligent, intricately woven crime procedural - with a plot to make your brain hurt - is the undercurrent of slick and highly enjoyable humour reminiscent of Raymond Chandler, updated for the 21st century. Loved it.” (S.E. Lynes, author of Mother, Valentina, and The Pact)

“I really enjoyed it. The characters spring of the page with such natural ease. I was gripped by the story - I love a book that takes turns where you least expect. It's going to leave me with a thriller hangover for some time.” (John Marrs, author of The One, The Good Samaritan, and When You Disappeared)

 “Hames is such a talent that he has created a white-knuckle, breathlessly-paced read that also has heart. Beautifully written and thrilling, Dead North deserves to go to the top of any chart.” (Louise Beech, author of Maria in the Moon, How to Be Brave, and The Mountain in My Shoe

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Quite the revelation

Full disclosure here, I am a Joel Hames virgin; this is our very first date. Despite having heard great things about his writing from other people, for some reason I still hadn't got around to reading his work. Then Mr Hames goes down the audio route and I'm in heaven. Nothing draws me to an author more than the production of their work in audio format. So, with his recently released on Audible book, Dead North, I plunged head first into the world of Sam Williams, lawyer, investigator, occasional psychological adviser and the hero of our tale. Mr Hames writes in the first person narrative, which obviously lends itself perfectly to audio. Andrew Calverley does a star turn as the narrator, switching back and forth between London and Mancunian accents effortlessly. The action maintains a brisk pace throughout and the plot is most onion-like, in that it is multi-layered and removal of each layer reveals something new. Before I knew it I was at the end, or was I? No spoilers here but the ending is carefully constructed to make sure, (as if I'd entertained any doubt), I immediately purchase book 2! All in all a clever and captivating chronicle which I highly recommend.

3 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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spoiler alert

Really enjoyed listening to this. A down on his luck solicitor ends up embroiled in a murder mystery in Manchester. He is a bit hapless and gets himself into a lot of trouble but his questioning nature eventually leads him to a whole other world of intrigue

1 person found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

good narrator

Dead North by Joel Hames
I listened to this book on audio, I think I got a bit lost along the way, I persevered and the story did come together by the end.
I have the next book in the series on audio too, and if I am feeling lost during next book I will switch to reading it. I did enjoy the narrator though, so will give book 2 a chance.

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Wow

Acquired this audio from the Facebook Audio club and was thrilled when I was also given bk2, I would say you can read/listen as standalone but with book 2 the main characters are the same. Starts off with Sam Williams down on his luck was once an up and coming lawyer but things did not go well, He receives a call from an old friend D I Roakes and he does not seem very well-liked but insisted Sam get himself to Manchester, as 2 of their own police have been murdered, and as yet nobody has been arrested Roakes and Sam hopes to solve it. Sam does seem to get himself into all sorts of trouble and towards the end, he was deemed to be working alone. Good pace the characters are solid well described, and the narrator was well voiced and clear.all in all a clever story.

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Great listen

A complex plot that takes you back in time and then sends you on a rollercoaster around Greater Manchester as lawyers Sam and Serena work to get to the truth

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Slow at first but worth sticking with.

This starts slowly, and to be honest it's easy to give up in the early stages, however it is worth sticking with. As it progresses it becomes engaging, more listenable and becomes something that you want to know how it will end. A gritty thriller, and great , quirky lead character who has humour and appeal, despite being a lawyer. Although he isn't doing so well so maybe that helped! I liked the style and after the first bit, the pace seemed to pick up and work well.
Sam Williams is not always a nice man, but he is mostly well meaning.
He trundles up to Manchester at the behest of a friend, a DI, to help out in the investigation of a double shooting of local police officers.
As the story unfolds we meet several interesting and diverse people, some of them are not very nice, others not what they seem. With good and bad cops, good and bad criminals and blurred boundaries of right and wrong.
The story is full of wit and dry humour that doesn't diminish the beatings and the grittiness but somehow enhances the credibility.
The narration was very good and Andrew Calverley's voice and accents were not distracting as many are when doing different voices and I found it brought the story to life.
A solid and worthy 4.5 stars.

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A real treat

I love this series but hadn’t actually read the first volume before so when I had the chance to pick this up on audio I happily went for it.
As the events from this book get referenced later on I already knew roughly what to expect from the plot but it was great to fill in the gaps in Sam’s background and the pace, plotting and page-turning quality are just as good as with books two and three. The narration by Andrew Calverley was absolutely excellent - in fact his voice made the main character immediately likeable from the start (it took me a little to warm to him in book two) and brought out the wry humour in Joel Hames’ writing wonderfully. A real treat to listen and may there be many more!

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Convoluted storyline

Sam Williams is a struggling London lawyer, down on his luck financially and relying on his girlfriend to pay the rent. When Sam receives a call from his old friend DI Roakes he agrees to go to Manchester assist with a case. Two unarmed police officers have been shot dead and the suspect, Thomas Carson, is refusing to speak to anyone. The story is clever, if convoluted but I found the first person narrative very off putting as it made Sam came across as rather whiney. Despite this it was a good read.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Thrilling

Sam Williams is a down on his luck London solicitor who was fired from his last employment and is now taking small cases. He receives a phone call from a police colleague who asks him to assist as legal advisor on the case of the murder of 2 policemen in Manchester.

Dead North is a fast paced, tautly written police procedural with a brilliant storyline which hooks you in from the start. It’s certainly very different to the usual crime thrillers. There were so many twists and red herrings and quite a bit of violence. But by the end all the loose ends were tied up for a satisfying conclusion..

Sam Williams is a fantastic character and I loved his dry wit and self-deprecating humour. The other characters were also well drawn, and the setting of Manchester was painted so well, grey and miserable.

This was my first book by Joel Hames and I loved his writing style so will definitely be searching out more of his books.. I listened to the Audible version and the narrator had a perfect voice for the book.

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Gritty & fun.

Such a good listen & im sure it will be a good read too.
Sam is a fun character & yes it’s a serious storyline, but he’s amusing & self critical & just human.

He’s been invited to Manchester to help in a case & as the story deepens his character shows through.
It’s a dangerous case but gritty & so good. Tense at times.
Thoroughly enjoyed it. Roll on more!
Narrator was great too. A good voice for this book

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  • DabOfDarkness
  • 31-07-20

Slow start, whiny main character

It was a bit slow to get started and there were some slow parts later in the book but I stuck with it and the fast pace and few twists at the end made it worth my time.

Our main character, Sam Williams, is kinda charming in a whiny sort of way. He’s a complainer and while some of that can be attributed to the run of bad luck he’s had recently, I secretly suspect Sam was a whiny lad as well. He uses sarcasm (which I like) but he uses it all the time, aimed at everyone and everything. I wouldn’t be surprised if Sam is battling depression. Because of this, I did have a love/hate relationship with him. Sometimes I laughed at a pointed remark, sometimes I nodded right along (agreeing with Sam’s acerbic assessment of the situation), and sometimes I rolled my eyes at angry, ticked-off Sam.

The plot itself was slow to unravel. Sam spends the tale bumbling through things. He uses and irritates and outright abuses his friends and colleagues, and sometimes that’s to work the case and sometimes it’s because he’s in a foul mood. Sam often takes shortcuts, and does so knowing it’s at someone else’s expense.

The ladies are present in this book but for the most part take a back seat. One or two get to make plot-affecting decisions once or twice, but for the most part they are just there for roll call. I didn’t like how Sam treats his girlfriend (who he’s living with and who has supported him through his tough times). While I shouldn’t be surprised that Sam treats her just as roughly as he treats everyone else, this could have been balanced out with other female characters…. if there had been one who didn’t take such smack from Sam.

The last 3 hours or so did give me some unexpected twists and turns and that is what really worked for me. Not only was Sam surprised, but so was I. Over all, it has it’s gruff charm. 3/5 stars.

The Narration: Andrew Calverley makes a really good Sam Williams. He’s got the jaded voice, the cocky attitude, the sarcastic wit. For the most part, he had unique voices for all the characters, though his female character voices could use a bit more differentiation. The ladies did sound like ladies most of the time, though a few times a female character sounded more like a 40 year-old man. The pacing was good and there were no tech issues with the recording. 4.5/5 stars.

I received a free copy of this book. My opinions are 100% my own.

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  • SVG
  • 24-07-20

A good read

I loved the premise of a lawyer turned investigator and plunged into a world so different from his. My first read by this author. For me, the road to different plot lines felt a bit slow than what I am used to. Saying that, I managed to reach the latter half when the story picked up and had some twists.
I found the narrator okay.
Overall, a good read

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  • darla Martin
  • 26-06-19

tedious

slow moving, tedious story. uninteresting. couldn't wait for it to end. story drags from the first page. will not buy this author again. narrator did a good job with what he had to work with.