Only the Dead Can Tell

Written by Alex Gray

Review written by Adrian Magson

Adrian Magson is the author of 22 crime and spy thrillers. His latest book is ‘Rocco and the Nightingale’ - the fifth in his French police series set in Picardie in the 1960s. His first standalone, ‘Smart Moves’ (The Dome Press) is out in August. More information: https://www.adrianmagson.com/


Only the Dead Can Tell
Sphere
RRP: £18.99
Released: March 22 2018
HBK

Dorothy Guildford dies in her own home, victim of a stabbing, her own hand found grasping the knife. But whose hand struck the fatal blow? Her own in suicide, or that of her husband Peter, who claims he was in another part of the house?

For DSI William Lorimer and DC Kirsty Wilson, it proves not quite the open-and-shut case they want, although all the evidence is coloured by the dead woman’s often-voiced belief that her husband intended to kill her in an attempt to inherit their van-hire business. 

Against a background of Glasgow’s multi-cultural community, the investigation into Dorothy Guildford’s death throws up a fast-widening net of events based around the international trade in sex-trafficking, with girls being smuggled into the city and sold on to willing buyers from nail-bars and other small businesses. Then comes a pointer to the apparent involvement with the gang from Peter Guildford’s van hire business. When Guildford is placed in custody and attacked and nearly killed by a man he claims was a prison officer, it points to an attempt to stop him talking, and the shadowy figure in the background controlling the trade, known simply as Max.

Events are moving fast in other ways, too: while Lorimer and Wilson are trying to untangle the web of information, pathologist Rosie Fergusson, close to having a baby and going off on maternity leave, is troubled by the killing, aware that as her last case for a while, she could end up making a wrong call that might be questioned and found wanting in open court. Similarly close to making important decisions, Kirsty Wilson finds herself choosing between her dream path to promotion in Police Scotland, or moving to Chicago with her fiancé, dashing those dreams for good.

This is a carefully-balanced police procedural, alternating between characters good, bad and innocent; where motivations vary from pure, to malicious bordering on the insane; where the neighbouring cultures of a modern-day city co-exist, yet where evil can proliferate beneath the surface with few people being aware of a problem. More than anything, though, this story picks at the scabs of fractured and damaged families, where old wounds open up new, and old hatreds bursting them out into the open.



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