Two women investigators—a veteran police detective with a distant husband and two young boys and a struggling actress working for her uncle, an ex-cop, as a private detective—cross paths in this offbeat tale of ruthless mobsters in Glasgow.
A Scottish crime novelist known for his satirical gore fests (One Fine Day in the Middle of the Night, 1999, etc.), Brookmyre here begins a new, straighter-faced procedural cop series. After a drug dealer is killed, Detective Catherine McLeod must penetrate not only the net of secrecy surrounding criminal lowlifes in "Glesca," but also the questionable motives of her superiors. Meanwhile, Jasmine Sharp, a slip-up waiting to happen, must get her act together after her uncle goes missing. He was working on a cold case involving the disappearance of a couple and had told their now-adult daughter he had news for her. Following clues to a women's shelter, Jasmine gets paired off with a handyman who goes by the unlikely name Tron Ingrams. After an attempt is made on her life, or his, he reveals he's really a bent cop's son, Glen Fallan, a name in one of her uncle's files. As more people are killed, maimed or disappear, Catherine's story becomes joined with Jasmine's and her former boss' pronouncement becomes apparent: "This is Glesca. We don't do subtle, we don't do nuanced, we don't do conspiracy...We do tit-for-tat, score-settling, feuds, jealousy, petty revenge. We do straightforward. We do obvious. We do cannaemisswhodunit." A brainy, barbed noir, this book takes its time setting the scene and establishing its characters. Most of its violence occurs off the page. But with its contrasting protagonists (it's easy to envision a series built around the endearing Jasmine), local color and language and skillfully orchestrated sense of bad things to come, the novel maintains a solid grip on the reader.
Brookmyre isn't as well-known in the States as fellow Scottish mystery writers Ian Rankin, Val McDermid and Denise Mina, but this first-rate effort may change that.