A beset Detective Sergeant in Aberdeen finds it’s always darker before it turns Stygian.
By all accounts, Logan MacRae (Cold Granite, 2005) is a good cop. Well, by almost all accounts. Detective Inspector Napier, who hated Logan at first sight, continues to envy and resent him. When a sting operation goes wrong, Napier banishes MacRae to Detective Inspector Roberta Steel’s aptly named “Screw-up Squad.” DI Steel—large, loud and colorfully opinionated, a female counterpart of DCI Andy Dalziel, the English bull in Reginald Hill’s China shop—is investigating the murder of that well-known Aberdeen lady of the evening, Rosie Williams. In short order, two of Rosie’s colleagues are beaten to death and then mutilated by someone who clearly wants to send a message. But what sort of message? Inspector Steele may be fat and frumpy, with hair “that something terrible had happened to,” but nobody ever said she wasn’t cunning. Is she dealing with a sociopathic serial killer, or someone out to grab headlines? Seeing her own chance for some profitable ink, she plans to wind up the newbie and exploit the daylights out of him.
Funny, occasionally brutal and surprisingly poignant. Though it’s certainly overlong for a police procedural, the raffish cast of often inept coppers (think Scottish Keystone) will keep you along for the ride.