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Saturday 25 June 2016

‘Blood Torment’ by T F Muir

Published by Constable,
12 May 2016. 
ISBN: 978-1-47212-116-5

The earlier titles in T F Muir’s St Andrews-based series featuring DCI Andy Gilchrist have been characterized by their setting amid the glorious eastern Scotland landscape, and plenty of blood and violence.
The landscape is still in evidence in this latest in the series, but this time he has opted to pull back from the gory details, give or take the odd axe murder and beating with a hammer. The blood in the title is used in the sense of family, and the violence is largely emotional.

A small child disappears, and it’s soon plain she has been abducted. Gilchrist’s investigation reveals a wealthy, high-profile extended family which takes dysfunctional to a whole new level, and not one of them is vouchsafing any useful information. Gilchrist has his own methods of digging for evidence, but this time it proves to be well buried.

Meanwhile, Gilchrist’s own personal life is threatening to fall to pieces around him. His pregnant lover, the ice-queen pathologist Rebecca Cooper, has gone quiet on him; his artist son finds himself embroiled in the murder of a violent drug dealer whom Gilchrist has encountered professionally himself; a corrupt detective has a hold over him; even his adopted cat is keeping its distance. Gilchrist does his best to be an understanding partner and father, but finds it all more than a little bewildering – especially when his career is on the line if the missing child doesn’t turn up.

Mean streets and St Andrews don’t seem to match in real life, but Muir succeeds in making the darker side of a beautiful place feel very real indeed. Likewise his leading characters: Gilchrist is a sharp, intuitive detective but lacks perception and strength in his private life; his sidekick DS Jessie Janes is tactless and mouthy but self-aware and soft-centred. The bad guys do seem to be quite unremitting, with no visible redeeming features, but that goes with the ‘tartan noir’ territory. And of course it all comes right in the end, albeit with enough loose ends to suggest that Muir is far from done with it all.

Blood Torment shows a different side to T F Muir’s writing, and thus broadens the remit of the   series as well as extending its length.
Reviewer: Lynne Patrick

T F Muir Born in Glasgow, Scotland, Frank was plagued from a young age with the urge to see more of the world than the rain sodden slopes of the Campsie Fells.  By the time he graduated from University with a degree he hated, he’d already had more jobs than the River Clyde has bends.  Short stints as a lumberjack in the Scottish Highlands and a moulder’s labourer in the local foundry convinced Frank that his degree was not such a bad idea after all.  Thirty-plus years of living and working overseas helped him appreciate the raw beauty of his home country.  Now a dual US/UK citizen, Frank makes his home in the outskirts of Glasgow, from where he visits St Andrews regularly to carry out some serious research in the old grey town’s many pubs and restaurants.  Frank is working hard on his next novel, another crime story suffused with dark alleyways and cobbled streets and some things gruesome.


Lynne Patrick has been a writer ever since she could pick up a pen, and has enjoyed success with short stories, reviews and feature journalism, but never, alas, with a novel. She crossed to the dark side to become a publisher for a few years, and is proud to have launched several careers which are now burgeoning. She lives on the edge of rural Derbyshire in a house groaning with books, about half of them crime fiction.

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