Gwen Moffat lives in Cumbria. Her novels are set in remote communities ranging from the Hebrides to the American West. The crimes fit their environment, swelling that dreadful record of sin in the smiling countryside cited by Sherlock Holmes. The style echoes this: rustic charm masking horror.
Topical but too close to the bone for comfort. In Meyrick’s Scotland extremists resolved on independence at any cost are involved with Russian oligarchs and east European enforcers who have taken tortures employed by Florentine and Mexican mafia to heart and improved on them. In this book “anally retentive” takes on new substance.
We are in small-town Scotland: Campbeltown alias Kinloch on Kintyre where DCI Daley’s daily grind is confined to poaching and homespun drug dealing until a series of violent deaths plunge him into a maelstrom of intrigue and corruption.
Daley is Meyrick’s series character: a troubled cop with problems of weight, alcohol and an estranged wife with a new baby of suspect parentage; not to speak of a ravishing constable with whom he’s unhappily in lust.
This no mystery but a thriller, the killers soon identified: mercenary horrors who learned the refinements of their trade in Balkan wars. But they are merely tools, their employers’ shadows in the august but polluted circles that govern this naughty author’s country.
Action: murder, investigation, abduction - of the requisite nubile girl – constitutes a crescendo of violence that rollicks from police to killers to Holyrood itself. The style is vernacular, often mangled, highly coloured. Purple passages are fine in travelogues but thrillers should be honed. “Kill your darlings” is the relevant rule. For all that, DCI Daley is a credible cop with his paunch and fraught private life, and although Meyrick’s women are wimpish and stereotyped his villains are highly satisfactory. As for the plot, that will amuse and shock readers on both sides of the border.