Saturday, April 18, 2009

The Last Llanelli Train-Robert Lewis

The Last Llanelli Train
Robert Lewis
Serpent’s Tail, Jun 1 2009, $14.95
ISBN: 9781852428907

In Bristol, England as he becomes middle aged, private investigator Robin Llewellyn drinks at the nearby pub whose regulars are losers like him. Alcohol allows him to sit in the present and not muse sadly how far he has fallen not from his dreams but with the firm he inherited and hide from his lack of a future. He once planned to be a cop, but settled on debt collecting and now earns money mostly exposing errant spouses as professional expertise at divorces has become his specialty when he gets work that is.

Currently he owes an arm and a leg and a few thousand pounds to a vicious loan shark, who will soon demand remittance. Robin has a wealthy new client, Mrs. Dixon, who he plans to bilk for more than he is worth. She wants him to prove her businessman husband is cheating on her. Mrs. Dixon demands Robin do what he must to video her spouse with his latest floozy. He knows what he must do as he arranges a tryst between the husband and a hooker that he will film. The problem is to arrange and tape takes planning that denotes future; something Robin cannot do. Even he is aware that he is imploding, but cannot change anything even his clothing.

Llewellyn is an unlikable sordid soul who is so sleazy that he fails to gain any empathy from enthralled readers even with one foot on a banana peel and the other already in the cesspool. The story line is fast-paced but almost irrelevant as in some ways THE LAST LLANELLI TRAIN is a character study of someone on the brink of self destruction. Told by Robin who is fully aware of what he is doing to himself but unable to think ahead of the cosnequences of his behavior. Sobering and gritty yet filled with a dark humor, readers will appreciate Robert Lewis’ discerning look at a man slowly subconiously killing himself.

Harriet Klausner