Fighting Dirty (Jack Lisbon #0.5), by Blair Denholm

Eight stars

After Blair Denholm asked me to read his DS Jack Lisbon collection, I thought it best to begin at the start to see how it all came to fruition. This novella sets the tone for the series and provided great context for me, after I finished the first novel in the series. Lisbon is working as a DI in London, but has some series issues in his personal life, all of which come to the surface. Might it be time for him to look for new options to salvage his career, and his life?

Detective Inspector Jack Lisbon was once a prolific boxer, having made a name for himself around the United Kingdom. While he has a wonderful job with the Met, he is also saddled with many skeletons in his closet and chooses to work outside the law when it suits him.

After confronting someone at a local boxing gym, Lisbon’s attempted shakedown goes awry and his temper gets the best of him. Unable to juggle it all, he turns to booze, hoping to drown himself, rather than face the harsh realities that await him. This leads to even more trouble and leaves his superiors to scream lee for options. Might DI Lisbon use this fresh start to better himself? Denholm does well to offer some backstory, while leaving many threads dangling for future exploration.

Blair Denholm has crafted quite the series already, and I am only one novel and this novella in. I enjoy how it all comes together quickly, leaving the reader to keep pace or risk falling behind. There are some great nuggets revealed throughout, but Denholm forces the reader to keep forging ahead, as there is much more to come.

DI Jack Lisbon is surely not the same man readers met in the series’ debut novel, but that is the joy of having this novella to use as comparison. There is a lot that took place before he ended up in Queensland, which only adds to the allure of the overall depth of Lisbon and his character. I will keep reading to see if more of the holes left with this novella can be filled, helping me to discover more about the man and his struggled to keep it together. There is still the question of his daughter to address, but I will leave that for readers to order on their own.

The thing about novellas is that they serve to bridge the gap between two novels, but also have little time to gain momentum. Denholm delovers from the opening pages and provides the reader with something amazing to help put it all into context. There is a great deal of character development here, permitting the reader to see how things went so horribly wrong in the UK, leading Lisbon to arrive in Queensland for a fresh start. While not overly deep in its storyline, it tells of Jack Lisbon’s struggles and provides the context needed for the attentive reader to look for more in this series, which has started off so well. There’s another novella awaiting me, which I hope offers more, as well as some great novels I am eager to try. Bring them on!

Kudos, Mr. Denholm, for making me want to learn more about DS Jack Lisbon.