Witness the Dead – Craig Robertson

51ACckYiqOL-2Title – Witness the Dead

Author – Craig Robertson

Published – 2013

Genre – Crime

Robertson’s gritty Glasgow-based books make quite a contrast to my recent Icelandic reading!

This is the fourth instalment from Robertson and the third featuring police photographer Tony Winter. The opening scene is as you would expect from Robertson – a brutal murder that requires Winter’s presence to record the scene. In this case it is the body of a young woman who has been discovered in Glasgow’s Necropolis. Quickly one death becomes two and as the second body is found in another cemetery – this time the Southern Necropolis – there’s talk of a serial killer.

The story then switches to a second timeline, moving back to 1972, when Winter’s uncle, Danny Nielson, was a detective on the hunt for a serial killer terrorising the Glasgow nightclubs. The killer preyed on young women who had been to the Klass nightclub and had the nickname ‘Red Silk’. The narrative swaps between the two timelines as we follow the investigations into both the contemporary and the 7o’s serial killers.

Initially it isn’t clear what the connection could be between the two threads, Nielsen is insistent that there is a connection, but no-one wants to listen. It’s hard for anyone to believe there could be a link between the murders decades apart when the man thought to be responsible for the 1970s murders is behind bars.

It’s interesting to see Nielson’s contribution to the books grow and his appearance in both timelines provides a lot of his backstory. It’s good that Robertson is avoiding the pitfall of following a formula with his books, he makes the most of his regular characters to change the focus of the plots.

The story features the regular cast of supporting characters – Winter’s on / off relationship with DS Rachel Narey and his friendship with DI Addison (who may have met his match in a new colleague). There is also some humour to lighten the mood, which in large part is thanks to Narey’s rather useless new partner.

The added bonus with this book is the interaction between Winter and a convicted killer. For once Winter is horrified rather than fascinated and the killer is a more than worthy adversary, able to manipulate Winter to a surprising degree.

Another compelling and gritty crime thriller that has Glasgow at its heart. Thanks to the publisher for the review copy.



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