Search

fullybooked2017

Tag

TF Muir

THE KILLING CONNECTION… Between the covers

TKC header

Detective Chief Inspector Andy Gilchrist struggles to keep his balance – and his dignity – as he slips and scrabbles over the slimy rocks that separate the ruins of St Andrews castle from the North Sea. The object of his attention is the corpse of a woman. The sea – and things that scuttle and nibble in its depths – have destroyed her face, but she is eventually identified. After what is left of her has been probed, sliced and weighed on the pathologist’s table, the verdict is that she has been strangled.

TKC CoverThe woman is eventually identified as Alice Hickson, a journalist, and the woman who provided the ID, a literary editor called Manikandan Lal, is flying home from holiday to give further background to her friend’s disappearance and death. ‘Kandi’ Lal fails to make her appointment with Gilchrist, however, and soon the police team realise that they may be hunting for a second victim of whoever killed Alice Hickson. Gilchrist’s partner, DS Jessie Janes has problems of own, which are become nagging distractions from her professional duties. As if it were not bad enough to learn that her junkie mother has been murdered by a family member, Jessie is faced with the heartbreaking task of explaining to her son that an operation to correct his deafness has been cancelled permanently.

Battling the Arctic conditions which have descended upon Fife like a deathly blanket, Gilchrist and Janes identify the killer, but are outsmarted at every turn by a man who they discover is not only responsible for the deaths of Hickson and Lal, but is linked to a series of murders where women have been dazzled by promises of love, but then skillfully separated from their money before being brutally killed.

One of the stars of the novel is Fife and its neighbouring districts. John Rebus has occasionally battled criminals there and, in the real world, Val McDermid is Kirkcaldy born and bred, but no-one can have described the sheer barbarity of its winter climate with quite such glee as Muir. We are a few weeks away from midwinter, but we have horizontal rain, bitter east winds, windscreen wipers failing to cope with blizzards, and ice-shrivelled bracken crackling underfoot.

“It was half-past nine already and the temperature had plunged. Ahead, in the cold mist, Alloa stood like a fortified mound. Beyond, the Ochil Hills seemed to overlap in darkening greys and rounded peaks capped in white.”

Frank-MuirDetective Inspector characters have become a staple in British crime fiction, mainly because their position gives them a complete overview of what is usually a murder case, while also allowing them to “get their hands dirty” and provide us readers with action and excitement. So, the concept has become a genre within a genre, and there must be enough fictional DCIs and DIs to fill a conference hall. This said, the stories still need to be written well, and Frank Muir (right) has real pedigree. This latest book will disappoint neither Andy Gilchrist’s growing army of fans nor someone for whom reading The Killing Connection is by way of an introduction.

Andy Gilchrist is, in some ways, familiar. He struggles to preserve what is left of his family life with the blood-sucking demands of his job. Home is a place he sleeps, alone and usually exhausted. He has a reputation as a man who battles the police heirarchy rather than seeking to join it. The account of his latest case is a thoroughly good police procedural, an expertly plotted ‘page-turner’, and a welcome addition to the shelves carrying other excellent Scottish crime novels. The Killing Connection is published by Constable, and is available here.

TKC025

 

THE POSTMAN DELIVERS … Neary, Muir and Child

TPD header

Annemarie Neary_Annemarie Neary (left) is an Irish-born novelist and short story writer. She studied literature at Trinity College Dublin before qualifying as a lawyer and moving to London. Her two previous full length novels are A Parachute In The Lime Tree (2012) and Siren (2016). The Orphans tells the tale of two children, Jess and Ro, brother and sister, whose parents mysteriously disappear while the family are staying on the island of Goa. Years later, the two children have gone in different directions. Jess has become a successful lawyer, and is married with NEARY020children of her own. Her brother Ro (short for his nickname Sparrow) has spent his adult life searching for his missing mother, and this obsession has taken him all over Europe, including their old home town in Ireland. The last thing Jess needs is for Ro to reappear in her life, armed with a renewed conviction that their mother is still alive out there somewhere. But this is precisely what he does, and it triggers a dramatic and dangerous downturn in their lives – and the lives and well being of those around them. The Orphans is published by Hutchinson, and will be out in July.

 

 

Scottish police procedurals are many and varied these days, and they tend to be fiercely local affairs. John Rebus patrols Edinburgh and Fife, as do James Oswald’s Tony McLean and Quintin Jardine’s Bob Skinner. The Granite City of Aberdeen is home to Stuart MacBride’s Logan McRae, Frank-Muirwhile Alex Gray’s Bill Lorimer has the Glasgow beat. Not to be outdone, TF Muir (left) has put the university town of St Andrews firmly on the crime fiction map with his series featuring DCI Andy Gilchrist. The Killing Connection is the seventh of these, and Gilchrist is investigating the death of an unknown woman washed up on the rocks near the castle ruins. When another woman comes forward with information about the death, Gilchrist breathes a sigh of relief. His sense of well-being is short lived, however. His would be informant disappears, and then she, too, turns up dead. The Killing Connection is published by Constable and will be available early in June.

Fans of the invincible former military policeman will want to get their mitts on this new piece of Reacherabilia, which is the complete collection of short stories featuring the big guy. The stories range in length and location, but two in particular stood out for me. High Heat is set in a steamy New York City on the night Wednesday July 13th, 1977. Why so precise? That night in the real world, a lightning induced power outage affected over 9 CHILD019million New Yorkers, and was the backdrop – or maybe blackdrop – to over 26 hours of looting. Returning to the story, we have an extremely young Jack Reacher, just a few weeks short of his seventeenth birthday, out on the town. In addition to helping a suspended FBI agent take out a top mafioso, the young man also manages to point the authorities in the direction of David Berkowitz, the infamous Son of Sam killer.

In Maybe They Have A Tradition our man, now much older, dates a KLM air stewardess and blags a free flight to Amsterdam, but instead gets diverted to England because of snow. It is Christmas Eve, and in the closest Reacher will ever come to a Golden Age mystery, he invites himself to an isolated country mansion, helps deliver a baby, and solves an apparent jewel heist.

The full provenance of the twelve stories is as follows. Everyone Talks appeared in Esquire magazine in 2012, Maybe They Have A Tradition was published in Country Life in 2016. No Room At The Motel appeared in Stylist in 2014, while The Picture Of The Lonely Diner was part of a 2016 collection called Manhattan Mayhem. Second Son (2011), High Heat (2013), Deep Down (2012, Small Wars (2015) and Not A Drill (2014) were all exclusive eBooks. Too Much Time is published here for the first time. No Middle Name is published by Bantam on 18th May. Full details available here.

TPD footer

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑