The Devil Stone (DCI Christine Caplan) by Caro Ramsay
|The Devil Stone (DCI Christine Caplan) by Caro Ramsay|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: The first in a new series, set in the coastal area of the Scottish Highlands. A good story with real promise for the forthcoming series.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 288/10h41m||Date: December 2022|
|Publisher: Canongate Books|
|External links: Author's website|
In the village of Cronchie on the West coast of Scotland, five members of a wealthy family are found murdered. The only item missing from the home is the Devil Stone: myth says that if the stone is removed from Otterburn House, death will follow. The only suspects are known Satanists but in many ways, that's an easy conclusion given that two of them 'discovered' the body. The Senior Investigating Office is DCI Bob Oswald but when he disappears, DCI Christine Caplan is pulled in to 'shadow' him.
Well, let's be accurate, it's actually DI Caplan now. Caplan was demoted over the problem of some evidence going astray - a big punishment for a relatively small misdemeanour. There's another DI on the case - Gary Kinsella - but he doesn't have the experience to front up an investigation of this size and complexity. He doesn't seem unduly worried about having Caplan there but there's a very odd feeling to the investigating team. Caplan's got her problems at home too. Her husband, Aklen, has been ill for seven years and rarely - if ever - leaves the house or does anything useful whilst he's in it. Kenny - her son - is going through that 'difficult' late teenage stage. Her one support is her daughter, Emma, who's just finishing her thesis at university. Caplan doesn't have her troubles to seek.
There's still one member of the murdered family unaccounted for - Adam McGregor - and he has a connection with a commune (some might call it a cult) on the island of Scone. There are only two members of her team that Caplan feels she can rely on - DC's Mackie and Craigo. Mackie's friendly and the two women go over to Scone on their day off but it's Craigo - still a DC towards the end of his career, who provides the most relevant information. Does he have an agenda of his own or is Caplan benefitting from being the only one who hasn't made him the butt of the team's jokes for years?
It's a really good read and I didn't take long to finish it. Caro Ramsay manages a big cast of characters with aplomb and the plot never lets you get settled into thinking you have it sorted. As well as reading the book sent to me by the publishers, I listened to an audio download (which I bought myself) narrated by Kristin Atherton. Her pacing is good although high drama is not her strongest point. That's me being very picky though, as she has an excellent range of voices and I was never in any doubt as to which character was speaking.
I was tempted into reading this - the first book in the DCI Christine Caplan series - by my experience with Ramsay's Anderson and Costello novels. I think we might be in for another treat.
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