This is the seventh installment of a Scottish crime series featuring Detective Chief Inspector Jim Daley. I had not read any of the previous books, but had no trouble following the action.
The stories are set in the fictional coastal town of Kinloch, based on the author’s hometown of Campbeltown in Argyll, Scotland which was in fact originally known as Kinlochkilkerran. Campbeltown is an important center for Scotch whisky and a busy fishing port, and both of these industries are also common to the fictional Kinloch and feature prominently in the lives of the characters in the book.
Other aspects of Kinloch that apparently reflect the real place of Campbeltown are a small population and a strong sense of community. Everyone knows their neighbors and their neighbors’ business, which of course has both good and bad repercussions. Being located on a harbor means that new people do arrive from time to time, adding interest, and occasionally, crime.
The local police force is enlisted to help out with security for a three-day shore visit by the cruise ship Great Britain. The ship is carrying wealthy business people from across the world as part of the government’s attempt to bring more trade to Scotland. Or as Detective Sergeant Brian Scott characterizes it: “A bunch of overfed business types off on a jolly round Britain, playing golf and getting pished at the country’s expense.”
While there will be special protection in town from the Met and MI5, the government wants local police on the scene as well. As the visitors fan out across town, something could always go wrong, after all, and indeed, it soon does.
Before long all of the forces are investigating two suspected terrorists who seem to be hiding out in the surrounding hills and targeting the ship. Moreover, they clearly have confederates working on the inside, onboard the Great Britain. The race is on for Daley, Scott, and their Chief Superintendent Carrie Symington to figure out who is behind this threat and stop them before there are deadly consequences. But personal challenges are interfering in their investigation: Daley is having problems with his heart, and his wife Liz has gotten herself in a life-threatening situation.
Evaluation: For most of the book I was mainly enjoying the atmosphere and heavily-accented characters, believing the plot was fairly predictable. Then the twists started coming hot and heavy, and I was gobsmacked in the end. A fun read!
Published in Great Britain by Polygon, an imprint of Birlinn Ltd, 2019