Adrian Magson is the author of 19 works of fiction and Write On! - The Writer’s Help Book. His series include the Harry Tate spy thrillers and the Lucas Rocco French police novels. His latest thriller is ‘The Watchman’, the first in a new series featuring protection specialist Marc Portman. The sequel – ‘Close Quarters’ – is out in April 2015.
It’s gray and very grim indeed in Glasgow as DS Bill Lorimer settles into his new job at the head of the Serious Crimes Squad. He’s also approaching his fortieth birthday and painfully aware that his new position might be short-lived, if funding cuts go through.
Before he can fully acclimatise himself with his new colleagues, however, he’s presented with two cases: one is the knifing to death of prostitutes in the city’s red light district, known as the drag. The second case is that of two unconnected businessmen shot to death in their cars. The only link possible is that they were probably trawling for sexual favours at the time, and both were driving expensive white Mercedes.
The latter case assumes a greater priority when a third death occurs; the victim is Deputy First Minister Edward Pattison, a charming, tough-talking politician, also killed in a white Mercedes. Had he, like the other two men, been trawling the drag, and been lured to his death? If so, by whom? Why?
With no obvious clues, but one or two vague political suspects for Pattison’s death, Lorimer calls in his friend and forensic scientist, Professor Solly Brightman. And it is Brightman who comes up with the startling possibility that the knifing of prostitutes and shooting of clients might be in some way connected.
Lorimer, meanwhile, discovers that Pattison’s widow is hiding an affair, which conveniently lets one suspect off the hook while offering the grieving widow as a possible - but weak - alternative.
While all this is going on, a mystery woman friend of one of the slain prostitutes is moving around the city, staying in hotels by day and dressing as a tart at night to join the other girls along the drag. She also befriends a lesbian member of Lorimer’s team with promises of friendship and maybe more, in exchange for information about the hunt for the killers.
Still not entirely familiar with his squad and aware that his job is going to be taken away from him, Lorimer does the unthinkable and sets out on foot at night along the drag, to chat to prostitutes, with only his charm and good looks to help him overcome their suspicious natures. It’s a dangerous thing to do for a senior officer, but he manages it and even befriends and rescues one young girl from a life of drugs and prostitution.
If you like dark, cold and gritty, this will be right up your drag. Set against an unwelcoming city landscape, it offers a mixed bag of caring and indifferent coppers, vicious killers and doomed street girls, with a sprinkling of hardy, coarsened locals for colour.