By Russel D. McLean
Private investigator J. McNee deals with each case on a personal level, maybe too much. He is dealing with an incident the previous year where he was manipulated into exposing his dark side and killing another man. Mary Furst, a teenager, is missing and McNee can’t help but be more than an police observer and advisor. Suspects include a crime lord McNee hates, an ex boyfriend, and Mary’s art teacher, Deborah. Enter Wickes, who claims to be an investigator from Glasgow. He tells McNee a story concerning Deborah, their relationship, and the fact Mary is actually Deborah’s mother, given up through a surrogacy arrangement. However, McNee soon discovers Wickes has a violent side and may not be telling the truth. That truth, however, is complex, and McNee finds himself struggling with finding Mary while battling internal demons threatening to rise again.
Don’t worry about the plot because it’s secondary to the characters. The premise is only to delve into personalities and how the past affects the present.
J. McNee: Scottish private investigator. Former cop. Lost his wife some years ago to a car crash. He tends to put his all into cases, even up to the point of disaster.
Cameron Connolly: Wheelchair bound small newspaper reporter. Gives McNee work in exchange for stories.
David Burns: Missing girl’s great-uncle and godfather. Dundee crime lord. Has a history with McNee.
Ernie Bright: DCI. In charge of the missing girl case. Former supervisor and mentor of McNee. Has a tarnished history with Burns.
Susan Bright: Cop, Ernie’s daughter. Friend and one time lover of McNee’s She tries to keep McNee from going over the edge.
Jennifer Furst: Mary’s mother. Doesn’t think the police will find her. Thinks her daughter has run away.
Deborah Brown: Not seen until the end, but discussed throughout. She was the birth mother of Mary but gave up the baby to Jennifer. However, she couldn’t sever the emotional ties. Clinically depressed throughout her life.
Wickes: Large man, bearded. Developed a relationship with Deborah after she suffered a violent episode with Burns’ thugs. Unstable with a vicious temper
Most of the characters are shown to have major faults. Their past actions create strife with friends and colleagues.
Not much and not important. Much of the conversations are intermixed with narrative story telling. Could have been fewer ‘aye’ used by every character as well as much of the profanity.
Short chapters. Short fragmentary sentences. Even though it’s set in Scotland I didn’t really feel drawn into the country despite some words used (aye, arse, shite). But, the story is character driven so setting isn’t all that important. I thought the profanity a little much. I know cops and PIs use it frequently, but I thought this story didn’t require it. A few instances here and there is all that was necessary. Minimal action but again, it was all about McNee and his view of the world and the people around him. I thought McLean would delve a little bit more into certain aspects (McNee suffers a panic attack but once), but this is still a fairly decent story.