I read and enjoyed The Night Hunter which was the last in the Anderson & Costello series, but as it didn’t really feature the two detectives at length I was unsure about this duo and had the usual question, is it possible to enjoy part way through the series? The answer is yes, this read perfectly well as a standalone and I didn’t really feel that I had missed anything pertinent to the complex mystery that unfolded.
In short there at the time of the solstice an elderly woman burnt in her bed, clearly not an accident but who would want to kill a defenceless old woman? There is no time to dwell on this at all though as a man has been found dead in a field in a particularly nasty killing. When the detectives find his ID they realise that he has links to crimes committed around the solstice a year previously. On this occasion two young boys were the victims but it appears that there is more to this tale than meets the eye.
This is not a book for the squeamish; there is a lot of violence and a high body count but there is also a solid and intricate mystery at the heart of the book. With a mixture of tales from the past and a wide range of characters the reader needs their wits about them to follow the storyline, particularly in the beginning where I began to despair especially since my concentration is well below par at the moment, but the perseverance paid off. This was one hell of a tale, impeccably plotted with all the sub-plots working out to perfection.
Despite the darkness of the story, the descriptive writing made me want to visit the location. In this case the setting by Loch Lomond was beautifully depicted, I was quite tempted to join one of the cast swimming in the clear blue water off the island as she examined the scene, imagining the night that three young boys played together on the island while their parents partied on the shore keeping themselves warm next to a bonfire. The other scenes are set in Glasgow and surrounding countryside which is equally vivid as Anderson and Costello work hard to find the culprit and clear up a few other mysteries along the way.
I have to admit, and maybe this is where the previous books in the series would have made a difference, that I found both these detectives a little hard to warm to. Anderson has been having an affair and there are complications caused by that but at the heart he seems to be a decent sort of man. Costello is a woman with a nice line in caustic wit and adept at moving things along having a healthy disregard for police politics. These two don’t spend all their time together and seem to be able to work independently and with others which gives the reader a chance to see them as individuals and not just a partnership. As this novel has a large cast, there are plenty of secondary characters ranging in age from youngsters to a man in his eighties and all appear to be credible and well-rounded. It isn’t always to spot the bad guy (or gal) that’s for sure.
I will be continuing to read this series, and I may well be tempted to take my library card and see if I can start at the beginning of this series with its intelligent and engaging writing.
I’d like to thank the publishers Severn House for providing a copy of this book ahead of publication on 1 September 2015 in return for this honest review.