Glasgow-born Ramsay’s debut novel combines several gruesome killings spanning a 22-year period with the story of a haunting and unresolved love.
Alan McAlpine is a young officer just coming to terms with his brother’s death and his mother’s illness and grief when he’s assigned to guard an unidentified woman in white. An acid attack has destroyed the woman’s face and left her unable to see or speak. She’s given birth to a girl she hasn’t been allowed to touch. Knowing instinctively what she wants, McAlpine places the baby where she can feel it. When the woman is identified and connected to a heartbreaking event that touches McAlpine’s personal life, he’s barred from her room. Twenty two years later, McAlpine is married to Helena, an heiress he met when her mother died in a car accident. An artist of some renown, Helena is tolerant of McAlpine’s job, but recoils, like the rest of Glasgow, at a series of murders that McAlpine investigates involving disemboweled victims who have been positioned as though crucified. In order to solve the case, McAlpine, now a senior police official, must return to the station where he began his career more than two decades before and confront the past as well as a serial killer.
Ramsay shows some promise, but unlikely coincidences, a forest of characters, meandering dialogue and Scottish-centric colloquialisms hamper the story.