Author – Craig Robertson
Published – 2015
Genre – Crime
This is the fifth book in the series featuring Rachel Narey (now a DI) and police photographer Tony Winter, after Robertson took a break from Glasgow for his standalone book The Last Refuge set on the Faroe Islands.
It feels like a while since I read Witness the Dead but I was soon back up to speed – Narey has recently been promoted and she and Winter are still a couple, although their relationship is being kept ‘under wraps’ from their colleagues.
The recent promotion means that when an anonymous caller reports a dead body in an ancient stream hidden under the city Narey gets her first potential homicide case. The lead up to the discovery of the body has all the hallmark’s of Robertson’s books – tense, dark, gory. The location of the body is mystifying – the Molendinar Burn, buried beneath Glasgow – it’s not a spot most people know about, let alone visit.
As the investigation progresses a number of other deaths are discovered where bodies have been found in a similar location to the first – places which are normally ‘out of bounds’ for most people – such as abandoned or derelict buildings. Keen to impress following her recent promotion Narey makes a bid to link the initial death with all of these others, creating an investigation into a serial killer. The story blends a police procedural with a less orthodox investigation undertaken by Winter, because it becomes apparent that he knew something about the initial death that he chose not to share and he begins his own covert investigation.
I like Narey – she’s determined, fair, straightforward and pretty gutsy but she always remains credible, what does puzzle me though is what she sees in Winter. He’s so permanently self-absorbed often not just neglecting Narey but actively going against her wishes that I struggle to understand why she sticks with him, even if he does occasionally redeem himself. Although I do recognise that this fits with a lot of real-life relationships! In this case Winter pushes Narey to the limits of her patience; their relationship was always going to test their ability to keep her work separate from his unhealthy interest in the bloodier aspects of what she does.
One thing that is very clear from this series is how fond of Glasgow Robertson is. Although his books all portray a dark and somewhat seedy side of the city, nevertheless the affection he feels comes through in his descriptions. It’s a city I don’t know at all in person but I feel that I have a really good idea of what it’s like from this series.
In Place of Death is another compelling and gritty crime thriller from Robertson that has Glasgow at its heart. Thanks to the publisher for the review copy.
And if you do read the book you might be interested in reading this article afterwards http://www.telegraph.co.uk/men/the-filter/11870885/Urbexing-Its-about-preserving-places-for-history-before-theyre-demolished.html