No Exit Press, £6.99stg

Dallas private investigator Jack Flippo is a man with problems. Mirroring the shady rhythms of his current job and his former role as a prosecuting lawyer, Flippo has hiked the dark highways of life and has the scars to prove it - two ex-wives, $25,000 owing to the IRS, big attitude and shrinking ambitions.

When his friend and one-time colleague Wesley Joy is arrested on suspicion of murdering two drug-lords, Jack gets the inevitable call for help. Entreated by Wesley to find his wife and clear his name, Flippo is catapulted headlong into a familiar milieu of mendacity, malice and menace. In a world where money talks, bad guys walk and deceit is the currency of choice, Flippo is forced to dig deep in the murk of his own life and that of his friend Wesley in order to find the elusive truth.

Set in the sultry surrounds of Galveston, 'House of Corrections' illustrates Doug Swanson's mastery of the crime genre. In his fifth novel to feature hardnosed Dallas PI Jack Flippo, Swanson's ability to keep a number of plot pots boiling ensures a pacy and gripping read. The characters are a little under-developed and the finale lacks the punch the rest of the novel leads you to expect but 'House of Corrections' remains a stylish addition to the rich legacy of American crime writing.

Tom Grealis