Keith Miles is probably best recognised by readers under the pen name of Edward Marston. He writes several well-received historical mysteries spanning the 11th century through to the 19th century. His website is www.edwardmarston.com
The latest outing of DS William Lorimer has several plus factors. It’s well-written, full of incident, steeped in Glasgow lore and – since it deals with a plot to cause devastation at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in the city – highly topical.
A mysterious explosion occurs in rural Stirlingshire; the husband of an old flame of Lorimer’s suddenly dies; and the body of a young African woman is found in the countryside. It’s the beginning of a tale that involves revenge, malice, strange tattoos, human trafficking and the uneasy relationship between the police and MI6.
There are, however, some odd blemishes. Would an experienced officer like Lorimer really be foolish enough to tackle a powerful weight-lifter on his own, allowing him to escape? Would a woman who poisoned her husband choose to bury the evidence in the garden of a detective? Would the team arresting one of the conspirators simply walk away without searching the property where the bomb is hidden, and where another of the conspirators is cowering in an adjacent room? The method devised of blowing up the stadium is ingenious but can anyone really believe that they will further the cause of Scottish independence by killing members of the royal family as well as untold numbers of their fellow-Scots?
Lorimer is an engaging character and his relationship with his wife, Maggie, is one of the abiding pleasures of this series. Whenever he is at the heart of the action, the novel is gripping and credible. It’s only when the plotters are introduced that the problems arise. They are, for the most part, under-developed as characters and their motivation is never convincingly explained. Lorimer is right to resist the overtures of MI6. He’s at his best on his own patch.