Timy reviews Incy Wincy, the second book in the Mal & Jackie Mystery/Thriller series by RJ Dark.
Read a review of the first book, A Numbers Game!
An eARC copy was provided by the publisher, Wavesback. Thank you for allowing me to put my grabby hands on this one!
|Series: Mal & Jackie #2||Genre: Mystery, Thriller|
|Date of Publishing: March 24th, 2022||Trigger Warnings: torture, death, violence, racism|
|Page count:||Publisher: Wavesback|
Malachite Jones is a pretend psychic medium and an unwilling detective.
He certainly doesn’t want anyone bringing him a missing persons case.
Definitely not two.
When the a body turns up he knows life is only going to get harder.
Blades Edge premier gangster, Trolley Mick, owes a favour to a family who’s son, Daniel Jerrings, has vanished. He wants Mal to pay it. Jackie’s friend from the military, Spider, is also missing. And though Jackie doesn’t really do friends, he does do loyalty and that means Mal does too.
But it seems that there are plenty of other people out there looking for Spider, and everything is spiralling down the drain in a wash of designer drugs, UFOs, racists, violent youth gangs and a group of evangelical Americans with their own agenda. Somehow, it all involves a missing teenager but nothing adds up, and violence lurks around every corner.
Discovering the truth means sinking deeper into the grimy world of organised crime where dangerous people have an awful lot to lose, and a way out for Mal and Jackie is getting harder and harder to see.
Incy Wincy picks up where A Numbers Game left off. Gritty, good hearted and laugh out loud funny. Mal and Jackie are back!
“I walked in and was hit by a familiar smell: a mixture of industrial laundry detergent, bleach based cleaning products, body odour and behind it all a memory of stale urine, which you couldn’t quite get rid of.
It was the smell of ghosts.”
I’m not 100% sure about my choice to go with Take It All by Pop Evil, but here we go anyway.
As my review of A Numbers Game indicates, I very much enjoyed the first book in the Mal & Jackie series and was looking forward to the sequel. But I think it was Incy Wincy that really made me fall in love with this idiot pair. I was smiling my face off from the very first page and I never really stopped, although it would be wrong to mistake this book and series as comedy. Mal and Jackie’s banter and their personality provide plenty of light moments, but at the heart of the story, there is brutality, violence, societal issues, and of course a crime investigation or two. RJ Dark aka RJ Barker knows his craft very well indeed.
We are sometime after the events in A Numbers Game, life is back to normal – well, as normal as it can be when we talk about Mal. Jackie decides that they are running a detective agency now, Mal being the said detective. He is less than thrilled by the idea, but once Jackie gets something in his head, there is no talking him out of it. Mal’s newfound career comes in handy when he gets tangled in two missing cases – Spider, an ex-military friend of Jackie’s goes missing, and Jackie wants to know what happened; and Trolley Mick calls in for a favor, as he’d like Mal to look into what happened to Daniel Jennings who went missing a couple of months prior. Despite Mal’s continued protests of being called a detective, he throws himself into the investigation. Although the continued death threats by different groups involved might have something to do with his enthusiasm. Not talking about his curiosity in general.
I’d rather not say more about the plot. Suffice to say, Mal and Jackie are having a hell of a time while trying to untangle all the threads and figure out who is involved how in those cases. We meet a lot of old characters such as the Kray twins (they are really starting to grow on me), Trolley Mick, the Russian, and of course Beryl, who is as lovely as ever. She really should have her own book at one point because he is just awesome. She and Lhiewyn from Michael McClung‘s Amra Thetys series would make a hilarious pair. And now that’s in my head, I want it to happen… Anyway.
Apart from the old names, we get plenty of new ones too, namely Pol and the Sharp Boys, the Yorkshire Pure, Spider, Barry and many more. But none of the can outshine Mal and Jackie and honestly, the best parts of this series are their friendship and banter. The contrast of their personalities and way of thinking makes some very hilarious moments. I used the highlighting function on my Kindle quite liberally when it came to these two.
“The thing with Jackie Singh Khattar is you can never actually tell whether he’s doing something purely to wind you up or not. Sometimes I think it’s because he has an incredible poker face, and other times I think it’s because he hasn’t decided if he’s doing a thing simply to annoy you until he gets a reaction, or because he genuinely thinks it’s best for you.”
But under the comedic moments, Incy Wincy also brings some very actual topics to the forefront such as racism, mental illness, drug use, and poverty. It’s a mix that feels like it shouldn’t work, but it does, and holy shit I just need more.
And the funny thing is, while I was smiling like a lunatic at Mal and Jackie’s banters, and generally his sarcastic way of narrating, I also had this underlying dread for Mal. It’s a bit hard to explain, but every time he deals with anything related to drugs – he is an ex-addict – my heart just sinks and I think to myself “please don’t do anything stupid, please don’t make him go there again” which I guess shows that RJ Dark‘s writing has this cutting-edge sharpness to it. He makes his characters achingly real and vulnerable in their own ways.
Incy Wincy is pure high-octane entertainment, the kind you don’t know you needed until it hits you in the face. A fast-paced murder mystery with genuine laugh-out-loud moments and themes that makes you think this world just sucks. A book that wouldn’t work without the pair of Mal and Jackie and the obvious sheer enjoyment RJ Dark must have had while coming up with these characters. I can’t recommend this series enough even though it has some pretty dark themes going on within the pages. I mean, it is a murder mystery/thriller novel after all. Not that it will keep Incy Wincy away from my favorite reads of 2022 list. When can I get the next book?