The Dead Won’t Sleep – Anna Smith

Title – The Dead Won’t Sleep

Author – Anna Smith

Published – 2011

Genre – Crime

This is Anna Smith’s debut crime novel after a career as an award-winning crime reporter in Scotland, and she sticks to the subject she knows best.

The book is the first in a series featuring journalist Rosie Gilmour, and is set in Glasgow, somewhat oddly, in 1998. A 14 year-old prostitute has been taken on a boat by three high-ranking policemen when one of them discovers that she has died. In the hope that they can remain undiscovered they tip the girl’s body overboard, but 6 months later her decomposing corpse is washed ashore.

Reporter Gilmour receives a tip-off that the death is connected to a number of senior policemen who already have a reputation for being corrupt. The story then follows her efforts to gather the evidence she needs so that the paper can go to print with her exclusive. But once there is a rumour that she has a lead on the story the culprits make every effort to stop her.

Coincidental to this she becomes involved in a second investigation that is also pretty unsavoury, and which makes for equally difficult reading.

The Glasgow we see through Gilmour’s eyes is a seedy and dark one, where poverty, drugs and prostitution are rife. This background and the crimes themselves can make for grim reading. Smith manages to keep the tension high throughout, making for quite a page-turner.

Gilmour is a strong female character with some serious issues in her background. Another thread within the book concerns her personal relationships and her upbringing in the same deprived area of the city as she seeks some resolution.

Interestingly there are a number of small references to Gilmour’s backstory, which made me feel as if I had perhaps missed an earlier book, but in fact this was actually a good way of making the character more realistic, rather than having just one huge introductory piece about her.

The cover suggests that the book is “As good as Martina Cole” but I’m not a huge fan of Cole and found this much more enjoyable.  Whilst this is not an easy read Gilmour is a great leading character, despite her flaws, and I look forward to reading more about her when To Tell the Truth is published in 2012.

Score – 4/5

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