I’m ashamed to say I’ve not read any of this author’s previous books, something I’ll be rectifying PDQ. Luckily it wasn’t an issue. Although this is part of the Grace Macallan series, she plays a very minor role as Ritchie switches the focus to another group of characters. And what a bunch they are. My recurring thought while reading this was good Lord, these people deserve each other.
This dark, addictive tale is a cops vs gangsters story set in Edinburgh. I can’t even describe it as good guys vs. bad as there’s little moral ground between the 2 sides. It all begins when an ambitious detective schemes to acquire criminal informants in her quest for promotion. DI Janet Hadden already has an impressive clearance rate but has been passed over because of her social skills. As in lack thereof. That’s fine. She’ll just employ some of her other talents to get what she wants.
Her target is Dominic Grainger, the eldest of 3 brothers who run a criminal empire. He’s a brash, confidant guy who looks more like a businessman than a gangster. Keeping his 2 younger brothers in check is a constant challenge. But he has 2 other more pressing problems.
The first is his wife. They’re the poster couple for the old adage “marry in haste, repent at leisure”. Divorce is an option but she’ll take him for everything right down to the contents of his sock drawer. Which might be all she gets if he can’t solve problem #2. Dominic is a gambler. Unfortunately he’s not very lucky & if his brothers ever find out how much of their money is missing….well, brotherly love has it’s limits.
They are the 2 MC’s but there’s a large peripheral cast that are very well developed. Stand outs include Davy McGill, a young low level drug dealer who’s never caught a break in his life & Frankie Mason, a grungy but resourceful PI who gets caught up in the whole mess.
The plot is impossible to summarize. It’s incredibly complex but due to the author’s story telling abilities, you never feel lost. Instead you become completely immersed in the characters’ machinations, bracing yourself for the next hit. I can think of only a handful who have any redeeming qualities. As for the rest, their scheming & subterfuge would reduce Machiavelli to tears.
If noir & hard boiled fiction had a conjugal visit, this would be the result. Following Hadden & Grainger is like watching 2 speeding trains heading straight at each other…..you fear what will happen but you can’t look away. If you’re a fan of cozies and/or HEA, move along. Nothing to see here. But for those who love the dark, gritty stuff of authors such as Ken Bruen, Malcolm Mackay or Stuart Neville’s “Ghosts of Belfast”, you just found your next great read.
Two thumbs up to GR buddy Col who put this book on my radar. I owe you one.