Setting: Glasgow, Scotland (mostly). Scandinavian weather, perhaps, but definitely a Scottish novel.
No, it didn’t really seem like Glasgow at all. Apart from the guy lying on the deck in the advanced stages of a severe kicking. That was as authentically local as haggis suppers and lung cancer.
Story: Catherine McLeod is a Detective Superintendent called in to investigate the gangland slaying of James McDiarmid. It becomes a story involving territorial feuds – gangs and police – with more violence on the way. Jasmine Sharp is a young girl, on her own after the death of her mother from cancer, trying to make a go of a career as a private investigator in her uncle’s business. Then her uncle disappears and she is even more on her own. These two strands come together in a Glasgow crime tale that holds no punches.
Good Stuff: The Glasgow setting is authentic, evocative, and sits at the center of the book. Around it dance some well drawn characters, with a refreshing number of female leading roles. The plot and mystery elements are well packaged, and skilfully unpacked for the reader with a constant level of tension building up to the inevitable violent conclusion. Oh, and the not so inevitable, but very welcome, bonus surprise is a great finishing touch. The writing is a wonderful cocktail of good storytelling, sharp observation, pathos, humor, and the essential Glasgow trait of self deprecation.
Note: There’s a great quote (about Glasgow) from the book here.
Not So Good Stuff: Chris Brookmyre ties up the obvious loose ends, but there were one or two rough edges to the plot. Now, this may be in the cause of realism, since rarely does everything really work out like the pieces of a complete and perfect jigsaw. Or it may be that these were diversions to stiffen the mystery. But they certainly were minor, and did not interfere in any material way with the huge enjoyment of reading the book.