Ultra-tough Scottish reporter faces-off with the Tory Forces of Darkness seeking to frame a wee gang of virtuous housebreakers—in the never-ending English conspiracy against the land of oats and haggis.
After Nicole Carrow, fledgling lawyer lassie, does battle with one of Glasgow’s toughest welfare grannies, Brookmyre (Not the End of the World, 2001, etc.) saddles her with a seemingly impossible case. Blubbering from her humiliation at the hands of the grannie, Nicole is handed a hanky by next customer Tam McInnes, a thoroughly sweet fellow who dries her tears and gives her an envelope with directions to leave the enclosed documents unread unless he fails to claim them in a week. Tam, an old client of the law firm from his days as one of the Robbin’ Hoods, a gang of kindly burglars—laid-off industrial workers turned castle-breakers—seems to have violated his parole in the most spectacular fashion. Along with one of his sticky-fingered cohorts—his son Paul, and Paul’s geeky technowhiz chum Spammy—Tam has been caught blood-spattered and otherwise red-handed at the palatial scene of the brutal murder of Mr. and Mrs. Roland Voss and their two unfortunate and unhelpful bodyguards. That there could be no less likely throat-slitters in all Scotland than Tam et al., or that Roland Voss was a publishing pirate who made Rupert Murdoch look like a softy, doesn’t interest the authorities, who are whipping up interest in a revival of the death penalty. To the rescue comes Jack Parlabane, freelance reporter and defender of the Left. The late Mr. Voss tried once to frame Jack and send him to the slammer, but he hadn’t reckoned on Parlabane’s eerie prescience. Parlabane is only too glad to step into Nicole’s case and uncover the plot—which must involve the archvillains of the Major government—although he will have to be careful not to worry his new fiancée, a beautiful physician.
Screechy politics drag down an otherwise amiable crime farce.