Single dad Eddie is quick-witted, warm-hearted and devoted to his daughter Daisy.
He’s almost perfect – even his ex-partner Jean, Daisy’s mother, is still more than a little bit in love with him.
In fact, they’d probably still be together if she hadn’t jumped into bed with his best friend Jason.
But it wasn’t her fault – Jason looked at her with lust in his eyes while Eddie, working flat out to build his tattoo business, would collapse asleep with exhaustion.
That’s when he wasn’t fussing over Daisy.
So, Jean, who is looking for the one special person who will think of her ahead of every other living thing in the world, moves out leaving Eddie to raise their daughter alone.
Thus far, plot wise Jim Ody’s debut novel Lost Connections is pretty run-of-the-mill.
But stick with it because there are some interesting twists – and the writing is remarkably good.
For instance, when Eddie admits he has an ‘abundance’ of tattoos that have ‘tongues tripping over many derogatory words’.
But he doesn’t care because he’s a ‘one-man crusade knocking down stereotypical walls, proving that tattoos, crime and thuggery are not synonymous’.
Miss Chambers, his next-door neighbour, who has ‘not stood by a man for any length of time since we had a king in charge of the monarchy’, remains unconvinced.
She thinks the tattoos make him a Nazi and reckons if she’d known the future would hold the likes of him she wouldn’t have bothered to help win the war.
Nevertheless, when Daisy is kidnapped, she and Eddie’s old friend and sparring partner, the Rev Harry Dugan, join the rescue team.
The kidnappers are a bunch of possibly Russian gangsters, who want….well, they don’t really know what they want, just that it was something valuable left behind when by Eddie’s dad when he went missing, presumed dead, seven years ago.
And then Eddie gets a weird phone call – which, as it turns out, is even weirder than the messages left by the kidnappers.
All sounds a bit mixed up?
And I haven’t even told you about Eddie’s other neighbour Jez, who works in IT, and who is so inept that when he tried to fix Eddie’s TV aerial he ended up slipping on the roof and pulling the guttering down.
‘But,’ says Eddie, ‘he was fine which is more than can be said for the window he put the ladder through.’
Nor have I mentioned red-haired Ruby, who works in the tattoo studio and who deserves to be swept off her feet with flowers, moonlight walks and weekends away.
But instead, to paraphrase Steven Tyler, sleeps with dogs and picks up fleas.
They both also join the rescue team – although Jez with slightly less success than the others.
Together they’re an amazing cast of characters and Ody’s multi-voice narrative allows them all to work their own magic.
Except Bob – Jean’s current beau, a flat-vowelled Northerner, whose accent comes courtesy of Compo from Last of the Summer Wine and who speaks nothing like any northerner I’ve ever met.
On either side of the Pennines.
But apart from Bob, and the occasional typos, this is a witty and charming novel with what I can only describe as a Dr Who of an ending.
Review by Sue Featherstone.
Available to buy on Amazon.