The Roots of Evil (Bob Skinner) by Quintin Jardine

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The Roots of Evil (Bob Skinner) by Quintin Jardine

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Category: Crime
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: Suspend disbelief about the role Bob Skinner plays in the investigation and you get an excellent plot with plenty of twists and an ingenious ending. Highly recommended.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 384 Date: November 2020
Publisher: Headline
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1472255914

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On New Year's Eve, Sir Robert Morgan Skinner was celebrating at the golf club with his wife, Professor Sarah Grace, daughter Alex Skinner and the man with whom she shares a house, Dominic Jackson. Jackson would be better-known to the criminal fraternity of Edinburgh as Lennie Plenderleith but he's reformed and the new name reflects a new man. The Skinners don't stay much after midnight at the clubhouse and are dropped home not long into the new year. Skinner's tempted to let the phone ring but knows that he cannot: it's Mario McGuire asking for his presence at a crime scene in the centre of Edinburgh. Skinner's not technically with the police now - he's chairman of InterMedia UK - but the police value his knowledge and experience.

Even he's shocked when they reach the scene: a car has been left outside a city-centre police station and inside are the bodies of Terry Coats, a former police officer and a serving inspector, Griffin Montell, who had an on/off sexual relationship with Alex Skinner. The Chief Constable, Maggie Steele, is there but it's obvious that she's barely holding herself together and she makes an insensitive mistake when she calls DS Noele McClair to the scene. McClair is the ex-wife of Terry Coats - and currently in a relationship with Grif Montell.

Get past the opening when Skinner and his wife bring each other up-to-date on the names of their children and what's been happening. This is book thirty-two in the series and you need a quick resumé of what's gone before and who's who. Suspend disbelief too about the role which Bob Skinner gets to play in the investigation: it's dressed up as mentoring DI Sauce Haddock but the reality is that Skinner's the man in charge. DCI Sammy Pye is off sick and the story that he's got a virus is not going to hold out for much longer: he'll not be back at work and Sauce Haddock is going to have to step up as Senior Investigating Officer in what's bound to be a high-profile case. Maggie Steele's not going to last much longer as Chief Constable of Police Scotland: the job's far too big for any one person to control and she'll be the second casualty. Right now it's Mario McGuire who's running things in all but name. Sauce Haddock is not the only one who wonders if everything is beginning to fall apart.

Skinner's just as full of himself as he ever was. In real life, he'd probably be a nightmare to be around but he makes for a good police procedural and this one is a cracker. We're going to range through a gold bullion robbery in South Africa of more than a decade ago, a body which has been lying in a Manchester mortuary unidentified for months and how a serving police officer can afford to wear quite so many designer clothes. There's a real pace about the story and I finished it in under twenty-four hours. I didn't have any idea about whodunnit: it's one of those books where you're along for the ride, not to see if you can second guess it. I didn't even try!

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.

Ian Rankin is usually the go-to man for Edinburgh crime but of late the Skinner novels have had a bit more complexity to them. Long may they continue.

Quintin Jardine's Bob Skinner Novels in Chronological Order

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