Random Things Tours – Book Review – A Death In Custody by T S Clayton

“For Delroy, it began as just another deal – business as usual on Brixton’s Railton Road on a July afternoon in the late 1990’s.”

Genre: Thriller

Number of Pages: 432

Date of Publication: 2 November 2021

Publisher: Matador

Rated: 4/5

My Review Summary: A neat, well written story that really opened my eyes.


“Brixton in the late 1990s. Delroy Brown, a young black man being held in police custody, dies in a confrontation in his cell with a police officer.

The officer claims to have acted in self-defence but fails to give a satisfactory explanation for being in the dead man’s cell.

Chief Inspector Elliott conducts an investigation into Delroy’s death, but his enquiries are obstructed by a lack of co-operation from police officers, the activities of a corrupt private investigator – and the legal system itself.

Alison French, a young journalist, Neeta Patel, Delroy’s family’s solicitor, and Ben Weekes, a black youth worker, join forces to try and find out the truth about Delroy’s death, but find themselves in growing danger, as they are drawn into a murky world of violent criminals and police informants.”


I was excited to read this book when it came up on Random Things Tours because it was a subject that I had never read about before. I love Murder Mysteries, but I have never read about the Police Force, and how the Law is enforced. It certainly opened my eyes as to what could potentially happen. 

The story was very detailed and each chapter was subsequently very long. It was neatly and clearly set out with each chapter having a heading to inform you what you would be reading about next. The book had a lovely flow to it and although there was a lot of detail it didn’t confuse me or hinder me from enjoying the story. It was quite emotional at times, with some heavy political issues. You weren’t quite sure how the story was going to end. What I particularly appreciated, however, was that everything was neatly tied up at the end. 

In order to make this story what it was, it was reliant on what the characters were doing and thinking rather than what they were saying. I found this particularly interesting as I have found that a lot of books I have read recently are based on character’s conversations which can be a bit of an unreliable narrative. There was nothing unreliable in the way this was written. It felt well researched and authentic (as it would do given the author’s background!).

Another thing that was quite interesting was the fact that when a character was to become a major player in the story, you were told their life story and what events had lead them up to what was happening now. It made you feel quite on edge because you weren’t sure what role this character was about to play. 

The characters themselves were excellent. They were well written and believable. I really felt for them and could see the story from both sides. I could feel the difficulties that the characters had with their place in the story. It was an emotional read at times!

Lastly the settings. The settings were limited as the story was really about the people. What description there was of the setting was just enough to give you an idea of where the characters were. Some places in the book were given more attention as that was required for the story, but it was mainly character based. I would like to point out here that this was not a problem at all as you are so engrossed in everything else that was going on that I think describing the settings more would have detracted from the story. 

Overall I enjoyed this book. Whilst it was slow paced and fairly heavy on the details, my interest didn’t waiver. I would recommend it to people who are interested in reading a story based on Law and Justice.

⭐Rated 4/5⭐

The Author

Q and A with Tim Clayton

  1. What inspired you to write the book?
  2. What research did you do as the book felt very authentic and well researched – was it part of your background?

“I did not have to do much research for the book, as I worked for the branch of the Crown Prosecution Service covering the Brixton area for much of the 1990s – first as a Crown Prosecutor and then as a Senior Crown Prosecutor.  During this time, I became concerned about the apparent inability of the legal system to hold the police to account for the deaths of prisoners who died in their custody and also about the way in which the racism in society found expression in the work of the police and in the operation of the criminal justice system, and it was these concerns which inspired me to write this book.”

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8 thoughts on “Random Things Tours – Book Review – A Death In Custody by T S Clayton

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