“First he kills.
A psychologist is found brutally murdered, an addict jumps to his death and a student is found dead. These are the facts. And they are all that DIs Wheeler and Ross have.
Then he waits.
As Wheeler and Ross weave through the layers of Glasgow’s underbelly they find a subculture where truth and lies are interchangeable commodities and violence is the favoured currency.
The killer stays one step ahead of them as Wheeler uncovers a web of deceit in which her own nephew is entangled and she is saddled with the dilemma: is justice ever served by the truth?”
I have just finished reading the debut crime novel by Scottish author A.J. McCreanor, now a resident of Glastonbury. It took me a little while to get into this book, I suspect largely due to the regional dialogue – words that presumably make far more sense to someone either from Glasgow, or with a good knowledge of some of the language used locally there.
The story starts with a short preface outlining the death of a drug addict, William MacIntyre, as a result of jumping from a Glasgow bridge into the path of an oncoming bus. This news is then relayed to a character by the name of Andy Doyle.
The tale proper then begins in Chapter 1. Two youths – Alec Munroe and Rab Wilson – break into an isolated cottage belonging to a educational psychologist, James Gilmore, expecting him to be at parents evening at Watervale Academy. However, they find Gilmore hanging from a hook on the wall of his living room, very badly beaten and very dead.
We are then gradually introduced to all the main characters over the course of the next few chapters. On the police front there is DI Kat Wheeler, Acting DI Steven Ross, DS Ian Robertson and DC Alexander Boyd.
On the civilian side we discover that Doyle is less than honest, his girlfriend Stella has secrets to keep hidden, plus there’s mohican-topped Weirdo, criminal Maurice Mason recently released after serving time for manslaughter, young George Grey who was being seen by Gilmore at the Academy and Wheeler’s nephew Jason who is a law student in the city.
It’s the run up to Christmas and Wheeler and Ross have to try to figure out who is responsible for the brutal killing of Gilmore, but have little to go on as Gilmore seems to have been a complete loner and there is no physical evidence, no apparent motive and no suspects.
Meanwhile criminal business interests and Wheeler’s attempts to connect with, and check up on, Jason give us plenty of other information through the various sub-plots to keep our brains engaged. I did find it to be a little unfocused sometimes, leading to some confusion, though in this case maybe that could be the fault of the reader!
I found this to be an enjoyable story, perhaps a little too true to life in the sluggishness of the police investigation to make for riveting reading at times, and the local language (as already mentioned) something of a handicap. The conclusion of the case is somewhat unusual in that the police accept an outcome that they aren’t fully invested in but, again, that’s maybe more true to life than we might like to believe to be the case (though there is the hint of a twist right at the end which may perhaps carry over into the next book?).
A promising debut novel, then. Time will tell if McCreanor will join the ranks of authors by whom I look forward to each successive book but this is a solid, if unspectacular start…