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Friday, 14 April 2017

‘Torn’ by Anne Randall

Published by Constable,
14 April 2017. 
ISBN: 978-1-47212-2763-6 (PB)

Just when you thought the mean streets of Anne Randall's Glasgow couldn't get any meaner, this rising star of 'tartan noir' finds some whole new depths to plumb.

In Torn, the third in her dark, sinister series featuring DIs Kat Wheeler and Steve Ross, she explores the murky territory of porn and sex clubs, in particular the kind that specialize in BDSM. A beautiful young woman is found murdered, bearing the marks of a kind of leather collar used in erotic asphyxiation; the trail the two DIs follow leads them to a seedy wedding photographer with a rather more lucrative sideline, back into the past to an unsolved case and the now-retired detective who investigated it, and eventually to a club catering for somewhat extreme tastes, taking in a hugely popular rock band and the grimmer side of foster care along the way. And just to make things even more difficult, Wheeler treads on some high-profile and influential toes, and has to battle her way through barrier after barrier to reach the truth she knows is out there somewhere.

Once again I was moved to wonder whether the author had a personal acquaintance with the world she describes, or if a dark and fertile imagination is at work; either way it's all too horribly convincing. The gloom is leavened by a couple of very human protagonists with plenty of baggage, and an unexpected humorous take on the main theme when hobnail-booted regular DC Boyd reveals a little too much about his own private life to the rest of the team.

Multiple viewpoints are something of a trademark with Randall, and she focuses on victims as well as cops and bad guys, with a knack for making them sympathetic even when their lifestyle choices aren't exactly admirable. Suspects from the less salubrious side of Glasgow life come to life too; and both Glasgow and a couple of less defiantly urban locations are very much a feature.

The world of ‘tartan noir’ is a natural home for Anne Randall's gritty themes; her robust style is laced with colourful language, and her characters pull no punches. Torn is not for the faint-hearted, but if the darker side of crime fiction is your bag, look no further; this one's well worth some attention.
Reviewer: Lynne Patrick

Anne Randall was born in Glasgow, and after university taught English in various secondary schools in inner Glasgow. In 2011 she won first prize for crime fiction writing at the Wells Literature Festival. Anne’s first book in the Wheeler and Ross series Riven was written under the name A J McCreanor. Anne now lives in Glastonbury with her husband, two cats and one dog.

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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