Dead Man's Grave (DS Max Craigie) by Neil Lancaster
|Dead Man's Grave (DS Max Craigie) by Neil Lancaster|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: The first in a new series left me wondering to start with but the book quickly grabbed me and wouldn't let go. I'm looking forward to the next book in the series.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 400||Date: July 2021|
|Publisher: HQ Digital|
|External links: Author's website|
Tam Hardie had been determined to find the grave - and it took some finding, in an overgrown old cemetery. It was a strange thing for Scotland's premier criminal to do, but Tam was getting old and there were things he wanted to do. Only, his family didn't hear from him again after he'd said that he'd found the grave - the one which said that it shouldn't be opened - and his three sons began to worry. Tam Junior, Frankie and Dave wouldn't normally go to the police but they weren't certain where their father had been and they were worried.
It was who was missing that caught the interest of the Serious Organised Crime Team at Gartcosh and DS Max Craigie and DC Janie Calder set off to Caithness. Janie Calder is a fast track entrant to the force and this hasn't gone down well with the team but Max Craigie gets one with her - which was just as well as they were going to be stuck in a car together for a lot of hours. The grave - when they finally find it - has been disturbed. A quick stamp on the stone reveals a lot of flies - and the bloated body of Tam Hardie.
There's history here - and it's a blood feud that goes back a couple of hundred years. Tam Hardie (he's dropped the 'Junior') has to establish his position as the head of the crime family and he orders the deaths of the Leitch family members who might have had anything to do with his father's death. But blood feuds never stop there and it's not long before innocent people are swept into the conflict. There's an even bigger problem though. It quickly becomes obvious that there's corruption at a high level in Police Scotland and the Hardie family are benefitting from it.
I did wonder a little about this book to start with: it was criminals with names like 'Turkish Joe' which didn't quite ring true. The banter with DI Ross Fraser seemed a bit odd. But as I got onto the story I found myself warming to the characters - particularly Max and Janie who have a good relationship with no hint of romance. It was good to see a man and a woman working together without sex rearing its head and I liked that the fast-track entrant was a woman.
The story's a good one that really grips. Max Craigie's ex-Met and he's used to surveillance: he needs all his skills in this case. He's not just after the criminals: he knows that there are those on his own side who are working hard to thwart his efforts. He and Janie don't know who they can trust or who they can call on for help.
Neil Lancaster served as a military policeman for six years and then joined the Met where he was a covert policing specialist. Most author's do research: Lancaster is writing from personal experience and it shows. You get the feeling that there's a lot more that he could tell.
This is the first book in a new series and I'm looking forward to the next.
I'd like to thank the publishers for letting Bookbag have a review copy. For more Scottish crime, we can recommend For Any Other Truth (DCI Jim Daley) by Denzil Meyrick and The Red, Red Snow by Caro Ramsay.
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