DI Tony McClean may think his life is in turmoil, but it’s about to get worse.
Since Tony’s first girlfriend was murdered by a serial killer, he'd found solace with a young lady working for the Edinburgh police. But then an attack by a crazy colleague left her in a coma. Now Emma is awake but has little memory of the past and needs constant care and therapy. Tony, who inherited a lot of money from his grandmother, takes Emma in and hires Jenny Nairn, a student specializing in physical trauma, to live in his home and work with Emma. When her physician suggests shock treatment, Jenny convinces Tony to take her to Dr. Eleanor Austin, who specializes in regression therapy and hypnosis. At work, things have gone from bad to worse. CID Acting Superintendent Duguid, who’s not really up to the job, dislikes Tony and transfers him to the sex crimes unit. He orders Tony to quickly close the hanging he’s stumbled upon, even though the medical examiner isn’t satisfied that it’s a suicide. More men are found hanged, all with the same type of rope, but Tony has to sneak around in order to keep the case alive. Meanwhile, he’s also officially working on the case of several prostitutes due to be shipped overseas, one of whom is willing to talk to Tony. Soon her pimp is beaten to death, she’s badly injured, and Tony suspects that his fellow officer DS Buchanan is involved. When Buchanan tries to attack Tony, he dies in a freak accident and Tony is put on desk duty. Once he realizes that there may be a connection to Emma, he refuses to back off either case.
Tony’s third (The Book of Souls, 2014, etc.) reads like a police procedural with supernatural overtones. Despite plenty of red herrings and clever twists, the villain isn’t that hard to identify.