Police offer a Scottish private eye a devil’s bargain when his credentials are threatened.
At first, J. McNee (The Lost Sister, 2011, etc.) is shocked by a letter from the Association of British Investigators telling him that his membership is suspended pending an investigation. McNee killed a man who worked for London gangster Gordon Egg, a thug engaged in a turf war with Dundee’s homegrown hard boy David Burns. Cameron Connelly of the Dundee Herald tells McNee that local police are preparing to charge him. But why reopen the investigation now? McNee wonders. Sandy Griggs of the Scottish Crime and Drug Enforcement Agency has an answer: SCDEA wants McNee’s help in getting close to Burns and will make the charges go away if he cooperates. McNee wants no part of Griggs’ deal. His old partner, Ernie Bright, was killed six months ago after cozying up to Burns. Still, life without ABI membership is tough. His current employer, Andy McDowell, has to let him go. So he accepts an unlikely client. Elizabeth Farnham wants McNee to clear her former neighbor Alex Moorehead. Alex is serving time for killing Elizabeth’s 10-year-old son, Justin, banged up by none other than the late Ernie Bright, who seemed to fixate on Alex early in the case. He’s also suspected of killing a series of other young boys who disappeared near Dundee and were never found. At first McNee is skeptical, since Alex confessed in open court to killing Justin. But although he’s admitted killing Justin, he refuses to talk about the others. As McNee investigates, he learns that all roads lead back to “Dundee’s ‘Godfather’ ” as he finds ties between Burns and the mothers of the disappeared.
McLean’s reliance on endless inner monologue makes his latest entry read like hard-boiled Henry James.