Big, blustery, bawdy Bob Skinner, Scotland’s top cop, is a holy terror on both sides of the crime line. But how did he get that way?
Suddenly, Chief Constable Skinner is behaving unlike himself. That is, he seems trapped in some kind of weird, introspective, Hamlety state, which is as uncharacteristic for him as it would be for any other bull in a china shop. Already concerned, his wife grows even more so when she comes upon him shaken to the core by some sort of "daymare." As a consequence, and in the manner of all loyal, loving wives, she demands that he share his troubles. No natural sharer, Skinner at first resists; she persists, he caves. This, after all, is Aileen de Marco we’re talking about, not merely Skinner’s mate but Scotland’s prime minister. Persuaded by her that a "burden shared might be a burden halved," he agrees to set it all down, indiscreet bits included, and willy-nilly the reader is hauled back 15 years to a down and dismal point in the Skinner saga, though his robust career continues on a fast track. But then there’s this murder made singular by the labyrinthian way it entwines and connects—to various aspects of organized crime, yes, but also to a woman, beautiful, wicked and so painfully recalled, who comes close to ending both the Skinner career and his saga as well.
Despite a 400-page albatross of a prequel, big Bob remains entertainingly Rabelaisian. And who cares how he got that way.