A common piece of advice given to aspiring authors is to write what you know. If there are two things Paul Charles knows a lot about, it’s the music business and small town Northern Ireland in the 60s. Who better, then, to pen a lively story about Ulster musicians dreaming of the big time while falling in and out of love against a backdrop of family loyalty and friendship?
Charles, whose day job is as head of the powerful music agency Asgard, has previously written about a dozen crime novels, mostly centred on Camden-based police detective Christy Kennedy. Here, however, he returns to his roots (aged 15, he managed a group in his native County Derry) for a tale full of wry humour about The Playboys, Ireland’s 11th best showband, tentatively reaching out from the country’s traditional ballroom circuit onto a wider stage.
A vivid page-turner packed with believable, three-dimensional characters, The Last Dance also serves as a loose history of a country in transition and the birth of the beat group era. Charles writes in a laconic style, the easy pace of the action and the lyrical dialogue of his characters transporting readers to a more innocent time and place.