Short-listed for a Crime Writers’ Association Dagger, this debut makes Edinburgh even grimmer than Ian Rankin’s been warning.
All Robin Greaves ever wanted was to be a concert pianist. Thanks to disabling nerve damage, he’s planning holdups instead. Together with his wife, Carol Wren, and their accomplice, Eddie Soutar, he’s gotten away with one job depending on hostages and violence. But the gang’s second job, already complicated by the fact that Carol and Eddie have been keeping company even when there are no hostages around, spirals out of control when the violence leaves an inoffensive old woman dead. Meanwhile, Gordon Pearce, equally disappointed in love by the short-term fiancée who ran off with her engagement ring and left him perilously in debt, has become an ad hoc enforcer for the usurer he owes. In the course of exercising his new duties, Pearce has met all sorts of interesting people, like debtor Ailsa Lillie and Pete Thompson, the sauna manager who’s been beating her daughter. Every member of the cast, from Robin’s brother Don to Alex Kennedy, the star-struck operative for Eye Witness Investigations, is working some sort of angle, but most of the thefts and scams and double-crosses are only a front for what they really want to do: hurt each other as badly as possible.
A tight little mood piece whose mood, like Rankin’s, is black and blue.