Cumbria’s fictional detective reveals a murky world of shifting ideals and unwelcome certainties
Inspector Tait is a man caught between conflicting impulses. Understanding all too well the desires of the criminal mind, he is unable to shake off a deep-rooted sympathy for those he is supposed to police. With an unstable, unreliable, drug-addicted sidekick, the troubled detective presents an air of serenity that belies his status as the constabulary’s loosest of cannons.
Living beneath the shadow of the atomic clock’s transmitter at Anthorn, Tait has watched his family leave the county one by one in search of better prospects, while the tensions that have prevented him from joining them have intensified.
With a belief in neither good nor evil, Tait is all too ready to question the role of the police force of which he is a part. Overlooked in his career because of ideological and disciplinary issues, but put upon for community and media liaison, his character is the rifted product of decades of frustration. A sometime drinker and smoker, sometime abstainer and athlete, sometime artist, sometime philistine, Tait is the perfect image of a man who is not what he appears to be.
Misplaced Time is the first Inspector Tait novel, playing upon these tensions and showing their reflection in the contrasting faces of Cumbria, depicted by Taylor Hammond as a far grittier, darker, and less hospitable environment than the picture-post-card vistas of Lakeland would have the reader believe. Behind and before the action, the backdrop of a geological timescale to dwarf all current concerns serves only to intensify the urgency of Tait’s contradictory, cartographic mind, and to deepen the lurking sense of a world that has slipped into a costly and precarious deadlock, from which unbalanced moves could precipitate unwelcome collapses.