In an insular community just seven miles from Glasgow the shadow of the murder of Sue Melrose and her two young sons back in 1992, still casts darkness over a row of houses. Up on the hill above the street Jock Aird sits and surveys all that he owned, watching the current inhabitants of the street. The man convicted of the young mother’s murder and that of the two boys and the family dog sits in prison protesting his innocence.
Meanwhile DCI Colin Anderson is waiting to hear if he is to be allowed back to work after a year on sick leave since his last case which saw him lose his lover and nearly his life. DI Costello is anxious, not sure whether he is fit to come back to work or not, but also longing to get away from her desk bound job and back to action.
Fortunately a new discovery means that action is about to come DI Costello’s way, and against a brooding backdrop of relentless rain which only serves to increase the claustrophobic atmosphere we meet the characters who live in the street in August 2015. The old case is reviewed with an aim to shore up the conviction against the man sat in prison, Andrew Gyle, reviewing those horrific images from twenty-three years before, combing the files and carrying out the necessary traces on those who were connected to the case.
Caro Ramsay executes this dark tale with a deft pen. The plot is fairly complex with many characters from the past and the present all seemingly with something to hide or infected by dark minds makes this far from a cheery read, but one that digs deep into the souls of all those involved. This is an author that doesn’t depend on left-field revelations, the clues are there for the denouement and I’m proud to say that I used these to work out the whodunit although I wasn’t quite there with the why. Not an easy task when there are many suspicious events, lots of people with nefarious intent but also some shining examples of the better side of human nature to keep this story from becoming so bleak that it seemed impossible to finish.
This is the seventh in the Anderson and Costello series and none of the books I have read, and no I didn’t start from the beginning (just for a change) read like the more traditional police procedural. Aside from Anderson’s return to work interviews and the brief that as much information about the new discovery was to be kept from the media, this story doesn’t concern itself with police politics. The members of the team are all individuals borrowing little from the stereotypical police cardboard cut-outs that are commonly used in such tales. We do hear a little about the protagonists private lives, mainly about Anderson’s struggle to overcome the psychological damage inflicted on him, and his family, but refreshingly the core of the story is kept to the forefront at all times.
If you like your crime thrillers to be full of thrills, you can’t go far wrong with this one but be warned, there are fairly graphic descriptions and if rats freak you out, this is not a bedtime story for you!!