Detective Alex Morrow returns in another thriller that moves between the present and 1997 on the day of Princess Diana’s death—everyone conscious of where they were, what they were doing, an occasion permanently etched in memory. This sophisticated tale exposes the murky connections of politics and criminal enterprise, opportunities for profit expanding exponentially in a global economy. Diana’s demise also marks the occasion of two violent confrontations that end in bloody carnage on a Glasgow street, the opening move in an elaborate chess game that binds a child of misfortune to a desperate man sensing a last chance, a perfect storm of despair and inspiration.
Years later, Detective Alex Morrow is exhaustively familiar with the process of building an unshakable case to bring criminals to justice. He in court as a witness against arms dealer Mark Lynch with every expectation that his fingerprints on the guns he sells will effectively put him behind bars. But nothing is ever as easy as first appears, a reality Morrow is forced to confront. Even this carefully constructed prosecution is bedeviled by unanswered questions, including a recent murder linked inextricably to Lynch.
The cast of characters reflects various levels of Glasgow society, from a police department in thrall to technological innovation to Morrow’s recent assignment to a new squad after a nasty bribery scandal; from the enormously powerful and currently bereaved family of Julius McMillan to Lynch’s urbane solicitor, Anton Atholl, who disarms Morrow with his charm and gentlemanly ways; from the unassuming nanny for the McMillan family, Rose Wilson, to Morrow’s half-brother, Danny McGrath, an underworld figure whose reputation trails Alex.
As in previous novels, Mina’s Scotland is filled with dark places, the well worn pathways tread by those averse to public scrutiny on a quest for ill-gotten profits. The city’s underbelly is peopled with a network of crooks, murderers, child-traffickers and dope merchants, carnivores preying on the down-trodden, the detritus of society left to survive by their own wits. Morrow’s purview is “a cynical Glasgow, exhausted by sorrow,” her only respite the twin boys at home at the end of a long day.
Intuitive and observant, Morrow’s instincts as a detective define her character, her natural empathy tempered by a wariness born of experience. Once her investigative curiosity is engaged, aberrant facts hover like a swarm of insects, refusing to be silenced, seeking a place in an unfolding case that plunges into old behavior (What were you doing on the day Diana died?) and reaches to the top echelons of power, situations in which a detective’s career can be cast into oblivion. Past and present collide as Morrow discovers a labyrinthine network of perversion, exploitation, blackmail and murder. At a crossroads, Morrow follows a serpentine path to its conclusion, the future in the hands of indifferent gods.