A Scottish writer still entranced by an old flame is drawn into her family’s murderous dysfunction.
A dinner with the Crawford family, incisively described by narrator Iain Lewis, features brittle sniping between patriarch Peter and his wife Margaret. At Margaret’s funeral a quick dozen years later, Iain reconnects with Peter and Margaret’s daughter Carole, his first love, and with her brother Martin and her husband Duncan. Iain, once a promising poet and the darling of academia, has settled for an unchallenging but lucrative career as a screenwriter. But it’s Carole who creates a perfect scene when she drops the news that her late mother killed her father years ago. Now trouble begins to simmer for Iain. Duncan, recognizing him as a romantic rival, secretly spikes his drinks. He’s stopped by a belligerent cop who claims he’s been driving erratically and threatens to arrest him. He nearly runs over a dead deer in the road. Someone breaks into his home, steals nothing, but leaves an expensive briefcase in his desk. Then comes the worst: While enjoying some stolen moments with Carole on the beach, Iain discovers the murdered body of Danny McGovern, a pub pal he’d chatted with at the funeral. Is Duncan right to be alarmed about Iain, or should Iain be wary around Carole?
An elaborately written debut with atmosphere aplenty.