DI (soon to be DCI) Jim Daley has been sent to Kinloch on the west coast of Scotland to investigate a brutal death. The body of a young woman has been washed up on the beach and Daley sees a chance for a break from Glasgow, but while most of the locals are welcoming, the local law enforcement are less so.
While Daley tries to balance work with reviving his troubled marriage, things begin to escalate. As the body count rises, Daley and those closest to him find themselves face to face with a dangerous killer.
Right, the second book in my challenge for the year. This book has been sitting on my Kindle ever since I first visited Oban with my good lady wife. You’ll be amazed to hear that at one point on my holiday, I popped into Waterstones and Denzil Meyrick’s books were on display as a local author. And then, because I’m a skinflint, I checked Amazon and found the first book was 99p. Sorry…
But that was July 2016 and it’s been sitting there ever since. That’s the point of my reading challenge this year, so this seemed to be a prime candidate. There are now seven books in the DCI Daley series, the most recent being long-listed for the Bloody Scotland McIlvaney Prize.
I’m curious to how the series progresses as it can be hard to judge a series on a single book, and I’m somewhat torn on this book. The setting is great – I’ve been lucky enough to visit the west coast of Scotland on a couple of occasions and the town of Kinloch (which it will come as no surprise is the location for the whole series) is well portrayed.
Daley as the lead character, along with DS Scott, his angrier sidekick, are strong police characters – the interactions with the other police characters are some of the highlights of the tale.
But I’ve reservations about this one. First of all, the “surprise” of the killer is telegraphed. The final section… can’t say much more without spoiling it… the events that run parallel to the last bits of detection and revelation signpost who the murderer is too early for my tastes.
And then there’s the violence. I know Tartan Noir can tend towards the grim, but this seemed to be extreme. Almost extreme enough – and I’m talking about one of the bodies on the boat – that if this hadn’t been part of the reading challenge, I’d have put the book down and not come back to it. A number of female characters don’t come off well in this story, and elements of the finale were very uncomfortable as well. Not uncomfortably creepy, but downright nasty…
Would I go back to the series? Possibly. Possibly not. I don’t particular want to read anything like the murder method on the boat again – if there are regular readers of the series, does this sort of thing continue? Because if it doesn’t, then I might well be back for more.
You might be thinking, where’s the Knoxometer? Well, I’ve rapidly realised that this wasn’t the best planned idea. It only really works for classic mysteries and this isn’t one. It’s a whodunit but it’s not a clued mystery. So I’m putting the Knoxometer on hold for books that aren’t written as clued mysteries. Maybe I need to think of my own Decalogue…