DI Alex Morrow, whose fifth case takes her away from the depressing world of Mina’s Glasgow (The Red Road, 2014, etc.), finds life just as sordid on the shores of Loch Lomond, even for locals who aren’t getting murdered.
Since Roxanna Fuentecilla has already been a person of keen interest to Police Scotland, Morrow and DC Howard McGrain masquerade as Missing Persons officers so that they can snoop around when they call on Roxanna’s feckless live-in, Robin Walker, when Roxanna goes AWOL from the Glasgow home she shared with him. Nothing. Before she vanished, Roxanna used her cellphone to make one last call from a field outside Helensburgh. So Morrow and McGrain abandon their plans to fly to London to interview Roxanna’s highflying friend Maria Pinzón Arias and her husband, Juan, a Colombian attaché, and drive instead to Helensburgh, where they find her abandoned car but no further trace of its owner. Did the Spanish-born businesswoman, who always seemed to be reaching beyond the limits of the law for a big score, disappear on her own, or did she have violent assistance? While Morrow and her bosses are focusing on the missing woman, trouble arrives in other neighborhoods of Helensburgh. Someone burns down the Sailor’s Rest with its owner and his young daughter inside. Susan Grierson, a former Cub Scout leader who’s long been off in America, returns to raise all sorts of hell unbecoming a woman of her years. And a corpse that’s not Roxanna’s floats to the top of Loch Lomond. You’d wonder what else could possibly go wrong—but that’s a question Mina’s fans learned long ago never to ask.
Mina never stints on the criminal conspiracy or gallows humor, but some of her nightmare landscapes are molded more firmly than others. This one is sad and piercingly perceptive on small matters, but its big picture is less coherent.