Altered Life - Keith Dixon - Book Cover
Detective, Mystery & Thriller

Altered Life – Keith Dixon

Sam Dyke is a detective à la Chandler’s Marlowe who refuses Brand’s case but has no choice once the man is murdered leaving behind a beautiful widow … 


Sam Dyke Investigations #1

This is an exciting crime debut! Meet detective Sam Dyke, a former Customs & Excise employee, who has seen one colleague too many falling for the big money. Disgusted by corporate politics and big company disputes he started his own private investigation company some two years ago. Sam is a loner, a tough guy. Like Raymond Chandler’s creation Philip Marlowe he is perfectly able to offend someone with every word that comes out of his mouth or to be at the receiving end of yet another blow to the head.


Sam answers to no-one but himself so he decides which cases to take on – or not. Hence he refuses to take on the wealthy entrepreneur Rory Brand’s case. Brand is the head of his own flourishing consultancy firm and he wants Sam to investigate who is secretly plotting to buy Brand’s shares. But something more is going on, dark and aggravating as we are made aware of in the first intriguing sentences of this book: “I wish I could say that the first time I met Rory Brand I knew he was a dead man walking”. Within 24 hours it becomes clear why the book started this way: Rory Brand is murdered, his neck broken. Sam is challenged to investigate the case he rejected before, Brand’s allegations, as well as his brutal murder, must be somehow connected. Laura Marshall, a senior manager, insists Sam finds out the truth and her boss’s murderer.

As Rory Brand suspected his second wife Tara to be responsible for conspiring against him, she’s the first person for Sam to investigate. Upon attending the funeral of Rory Brand, nothing can prepare Sam for the shock of recognizing his wife from 18 years ago as the now widowed Mrs Brand. Sam tries to meet up with her in the following days in the Brand mansion in the Midlands’ countryside. After having got the door slammed in his face, Sam succeeds in speaking to his former wife who walked away from him those 18 years ago. Clearly, they have nothing more to say to each other, the person Sam knew has turned into a distant and cold career woman. Again the door is slammed in Sam’s face, this time followed by an enormous blow to his head. Events are starting to develop now as Tara is being kidnapped.

Sam has to face a complex mystery with no idea how to solve it. Along the way he gets help from Laura, whom he feels attracted to, is regarded by Inspector Howard as the prime suspect and has to face hostility in the Brand firm. Instead of clearing the case, things get very complicated while Sam is interviewing (former) employees and others with his usual tact and finesse. Why are other businesses withholding their approval for the new project and will it ever be finished? With every lead Sam finds, more questions arise and different angles of research appear. And the several angles do not seem connected in any way so what on earth is going on here? Follow PI Sam Dyke as he is trying to make sense of it all and at the same time is rethinking his former relationship with Tara and the crossroad in life he’s standing on right now.

My Thoughts

It is a thrilling tale that is being told and an exciting crime debut for Keith Dixon. His writing is entertaining and he keeps you hooked on the book, unable to wait until the story will be unveiled. As it is the first time we meet Sam Dyke, we get a lot of insight into his youth, his former life and his ‘raison d’être’. That is why I can understand Keith Dixon taking his time to introduce the various characters in this book,  to excellently paint a picture with words, which however slows down the action a bit. I would not necessarily have to get to know every person’s background.

On the other hand, I just loved the way Keith Dixon extensively describes his surroundings, such as the interior of the Brands’ home “… clattering York tile floors softened by deep Persian rugs, plump terracotta sofas inviting your company while dark wood bookcases flattered your intelligence”. ‘Altered Life’ is the first in a series of 7 books with private investigator Sam Dyke, the man with the cold hands and warm heart, who is not afraid of action and stands for what he believes in. I am looking forward to reading more of Sam Dyke’s adventures! Next in the Sam Dyke Investigations book is ‘Private Lie’.

About the Author

Keith Dixon Author Image

Keith Dixon is a British writer, also the author of non-crime books such as women’s literary fiction. Keith Dixon was born in Yorkshire and grew up in the Midlands. He’s been writing since he was thirteen years old in a number of different genres: thriller, espionage, science fiction, literary. Apart from the seven novels in the Sam Dyke Investigations series and two other non-crime works, Keith also has written two collections of blog posts on the craft of writing. When he’s not writing he enjoys reading, learning the guitar, watching movies and binge-inhaling great TV series.

Book Info

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 Paperback   298 pages
 Publisher   Createspace Publishing (29 Mar.  2012)
 Language   English
 ISBN-10  1475106009
 ISBN-13  978-1475106008

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