The Light of Day by Graham Swift (Penguin)

by Patrick O'Connor

THE central character here is former cop George Webb who now runs a detective agency from an office above a tanning studio on Wimbledon Broadway.

But if you are expecting a typical 'gumshoe' tale forget it. For this is a story about obsessive love, (although to be fair, there is also a murder).

A lot of Webb's work involves spying on adulterous husbands but new client Sarah Nash has an unusual request – she wants the detective to follow her gynaecologist hubbie to the airport to make sure he bades farewell to their Croatian lodger with whom he has confessed to having an affair.

On the face of it a pretty routine task especially when the husband does indeed put the girl on the plane.

The story is told from Webb's point of view and is often in flashback, a technique that can be confusing at times.

It is all housed in a safe, suburban setting and it is only gradually that we realised the horror of what has occurred. There is a visit to a graveyard and to a prison and Webb's journey is often relayed through his own internal musings.

His own childhood, failed marriage and tainted career as a policeman all come under the microscope and he tries to come to terms with his relationship with the enigmatic Sarah.