Title: The Death of Danny Daggers
Author: Haydn Wilks
Publisher: Dead Bird Press
Genre: Mystery, Thriller
Source: Ebook – Review Copy
When I first received The Death of Danny Daggers, I was excited to read it. The premise sounded interesting and a lot of fun to read. However, it is a long book and I was worried I might not get past the first few pages – they are full of very crude and over-the-top descriptions, so much so that I could not really take what I was reading seriously. Once I got past that, however, the book turned into something very different and I was very much taken by it.
The plot of this book revolves around, as the title suggests, the death of a YouTube star known as Danny Daggers. The book begins with his body being found, but then steps back a few days into the past, intertwining the lives of a plethora of characters as the events leading up to his death are explored.
I really enjoyed the way the book’s conclusion was built up. While I did think that it could have been a little shorter in length in some places, I found myself completely intrigued as to what happened. I did have my suspicions, but in no way do you never know for sure given the wide variety of characters and the jumping timeline.
I did find that, while the plot was present throughout, this book was very much about the characters. Wilks did a fantastic job of making the large cast distinctive and developing each of their individual stories until the different threads got tied together. None of the characters were in a particularly good point in their lives, each with their own demons, so it was great finding out about them and seeing how they fitted into the over-arching plot.
However, some characters were more relatable and enjoyable to read than others. I had two favourite story-lines because of the characters involved. The first of these was the Amstell brothers due to their violent nature and family dynamics – you could never guess what they would do next. My favourite was that of Ji Eun, a Korean girl who is going work experience at the local paper, and Rory Gallagher, the journalist who takes Ji Eun under his wing. Their friendship is developed beautifully, the characters are a delight to read and I ended up looking forward to their part of the book the most.
The Death of Danny Daggers is described as being set in a dystopian Britain. I, however, could not see where the dystopian description came from. Instead, the book seems to be set in modern day Wales. The items on the news, references to popular culture and Danny Daggers being a youtuber seemed to be proof of this modern day setting.
Despite that, the setting really captured the dark, despondent feel of the book. With murder and a large number of down-and-out characters, you find yourself completely drawn into the world that is depicted in the pages. I also really enjoyed how it was set in Wales as I have never been there before, and it is not often that I come across a book set in the country.
This is not a book for the faint of heart, or those who are disturbed by heavy alcohol and drug abuse and/or swearing. It is, however, a book that really captures the darker side of humanity and introduces the reader to a large number of interesting characters. It is sadly brought down by the first part of the book as I can see how that can turn a number of readers off, but the rest of the book is a fascinating read.