Another excellent police procedural from the pen of Ian Simpson.
This third book is fully within the world the author previously inhabited; the legal profession and high court judgement and now firmly cited in Scotland with warm mentions of golf and St Andrews.
You can tell the writer's comfort in these surroundings as he has produced perhaps his best book yet.
The plot is detailed but more control seems to have been exercised; there are clear roles for the various police officers; their personalities and interactions working well within a team of detectives. Although a large number of suspects the telling of the story enables the characters to remain defined and they do not blur together as they did at times in book two.
It is good to see Simpson is mastering his art in creating a convincing murder thriller where the the culprit isn't known until well into the book. There is no slight of hand it is just well written and it is encouraging as a reader to see this development and enjoy the story more and feel safe in an authors telling of it. I felt really comfortable and enjoyed the book thoroughly.
There is tremendous wit, but even Inspector No is slowly being reprogrammed sufficiently to prevent his un pc world overwhelming the book. He remains a wonderful character but his role has deeper significance other than comic interludes. Indeed some of his interventions go a long to solving this case even if he remains unaware of his policeman's instincts.
The book has two court cases running side by side. Both come under scrutiny when Farquhar Knox, QC is murdered. The proceeedings are not dry in either case made lighter by junior counsel's relationship DS Bagawath Chandavarkar (Baggo) in one and a religious group protesting for justice at the other.
In the process an interesting insight into all things legal in Scotland is explored without it being dry or indulgent. I enjoyed this aspect and it added to the overall quality of the novel.
A complete list of characters is added to aid clarity and entertainment. I found I never had to refer to this during reading the book which shows how well written Simpson's story is in this book.
A clever page-turner that brings a lot of pleasure into reading crime fiction. I loved the homage to Rebus but the very clear narrative that made this Edinburgh and Glasgow Simpson's own.
It was also refreshing that although there is real threat at times within the book, the novel doesn't have to have that sense of jepody where out hero is in danger of becoming the latest victim in the thrilling conclusion to the case. Original, Entertaining and Heralding the arrival of a new star in the crime genre - Ian Simpson.
by Richard Latham
Since retiring from a law career which included sitting as a judge in High Court murder trials, Ian Simpson has been writing crime fiction. In 2008 one of his books was shortlisted for the Debut Dagger by the Crime Writers' Association. He has also written newspaper articles on legal topics.