Dark Water by Caro Ramsay

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Dark Water by Caro Ramsay

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Category: Crime
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Louise Laurie
Reviewed by Louise Laurie
Summary: A tartan crime thriller which is a cut above the average. Cops with personalities and dishevelled private lives attempt to get to grips with a mounting death count: a very clever killer is on the loose.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 480 Date: August 2010
Publisher: Penguin
ISBN: 978-0141044347

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This is a big, meaty and satisfying read from the pen of Caro Ramsay. I haven't read any of her previous books to date but I will certainly look them out now. The location is in and around the city of Glasgow so lots of Scottish humour and a nice line in the local dialect from several characters. This all helps to get the reader involved early on. And I was.

The book opens with an innocent, every day event - a couple viewing a flat in the city centre. When a (very) dead body is found hanging in one of the rooms - the book changes tempo and starts proper. Roll in a DCI, DIs, a clutch of DSs and a pathologist or two and it's all action, action, action.

But what's effective is that Ramsay gives the reader a rolling profile and description of most of her characters. She fleshes them out into real people on the page. It works very well. And backing this up is plenty of Scottish humour to keep things rippling along nicely.

Enter DCI Rebecca Quinn and okay it could be seen as a bit stereotypical in that she's a bit of a battle-axe, almost retired ... and has one last case to prove. Could this be the one? The police station she is in charge of is Partickhill which is ... little more than a lost property office these days. And Ramsay finds the time to have a bit of fun with some of her characters as well. The rather well-heeled residents of the leafy West End are given several outings in the guise of wasted police time and precious man hours dealing with trifling minor crimes. The frustration of the police department as a whole is palpable. This all adds to the spice and flavour of the story, which I loved.

As so many characters are introduced in and around the same time, It could be a little confusing at times and now and again at the beginning, I had to stop reading for a minute and think, now who's that again, but then I was off into the depth of the story once again.

The plot is complicated and complex, with different time periods, different areas of Scotland, different suspects picked up - and then dropped. You do need to keep your wits about you, to a certain extent. Some characters stood out more than others for me. For instance, there's a single mum who's a new member of the murder team. Straight out of training. Can she cope? There's also a charming photographer and a scruffy but well-meaning criminal profiler. Through the latter the reader gets to see into the minds of various characters. All fascinating stuff. There's also several other characters who I found intriguing but if I said any more it may be spoiling the story.

Caro covers lots of social issues in this novel. Issues which most of us are aware of and can relate to on some level. She is able to draw the reader right into the heart of things. We see how twisted minds and childhood events can leave devastating scars - which may not heal. We see both sides of the coin, both the hunted and the hunters, if you like. All engrossing reading. This is a well-rounded and appealing novel. Recommended.

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

If this book appeals then you might like to try Singing To The Dead also by Caro Ramsay.

Caro Ramsay's Anderson and Costello Novels in Chronological Order

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Buy Dark Water by Caro Ramsay at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Dark Water by Caro Ramsay at Amazon.co.uk Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy Dark Water by Caro Ramsay at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Dark Water by Caro Ramsay at Amazon.com.


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Audrey Innes said:

I am reading this at the moment so can’t properly pass comment yet, however so far only one thing has bothered me and it is that this is a Scottish novel and in it there is a mention of Grievous Bodily? which does not exist in Scottish Law. The Scottish equivalent would be Serious Assault.

I am just being picky though, and the book is shaping up to be good, so now I’ve had my wee gripe, I will get on with reading the rest of it and ignore that minor point.