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Sunday 29 April 2018

‘The Killing Connection’ by T F Muir

Published by Constable,
1st March 2018.
ISBN: 978-1-47212-091-5 (PB)

Striking and magnificent the eastern Scotland landscape may be, but it can also be treacherous and menacing, especially when the weather does its worst. It certainly doesn't do DCI Andy Gilchrist any favours as he tries to track down an elusive serial killer in the latest of T F Muir's gripping tartan noir series set in and around St Andrews.

A woman's body washed up by the sea is only the beginning. Soon Andy and his fiercely loyal team find they are in pursuit of a ruthless murderer whose crimes go back decades and span continents. It doesn't take them long to learn why the killer has gone undetected for so long; despite their best efforts, he seems to have a knack for staying one step ahead no matter what they do.

They're not helped by the kind of winter storms that make most of us, Andy included, long for some sunshine – though in Scotland, apparently, they count as no more than a bit of a blow. Another hazard which keeps tripping them up is the new boss, Chief Superintendent Diane Smiley, ironically dubbed Smiler, of course. She seems intent on ensuring that Andy Gilchrist's tendency to bend rules and go off piste railroad him into early retirement, even though his tactics have made him the most successful detective in the force in terms of putting villains away.

But Andy thrives on the challenge of living on the edge, and as usual follows his instincts rather than the rules. He even makes slightly dodgy use of police resources to look into a couple of issues closer to home and unconnected with the case. His artist son is involved with a gallery owner who makes him feel uncomfortable; and his mouthy Glaswegian sergeant, Jessie Janes, is potentially head deep in trouble when her dysfunctional family life threatens to spin out of control.

Jessie has other problems, and is growing as a character in each book. So too is Jackie, the ace researcher with cerebral palsy, and Mhairi, the young DC determined to make her mark. The Killing Connection shows that T F Muir is every bit as adept at creating characters with depth as he is at weaving a complex plot and painting a scenic backdrop – and it's characters that see to it that a series has legs.

On this showing, the exploits of DCI Gilchrist and his team is set to run and run. And with that glorious Scottish landscape as a bonus, we must surely be looking at a TV series before too long.
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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