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Saturday 10 November 2018

‘Sins of the Dead’ by Lin Anderson

Published by Macmillan,
9 August 2018.
ISBN: 978-1-50986619-9 (HB)

Forensic scientist Rhona MacLeod has been called to a body in one of the Glasgow tunnels: a young man laid out as if for burial, with a half-drunk glass of wine and half-eaten piece of bread beside him, recalling the old custom of the ‘sin-eater’... but who is the perpretator, and how has he gained his forensic knowledge?

This fast-moving PP uses several voices to tell the story, mostly in the third person: Rhona herself, the investigating officer, Mike McNab, now demoted to Detective Sergeant after their last case together, Follow the Dead. Mike’s biker girlfriend Ellie is also involved; she and her friends found the body during an illegal race under the city, and Ellie is haunted by the discovery, which takes her back to the trauma of her brother’s suicide. There are suspicious characters a-plenty, including Rhona’s friendly neighbour, and the too-interested DC Fleming. Rhona herself is a character that it’s easy to identify with: precise and determined in her work, yet unable to conquer her personal life, and in the later stages of the book you’re with her in every moment of her struggle. McNab is also a character you’re drawn to; you sympathise with his current professional frustrations, and his difficulties in forming relationships, and hope that he and Ellie will work out. The description of the places in the story, particularly the sinister tunnels, is evocative, the writing is stylish, the dialogue snappy, and the pace keeps up the speed of the opening chapters with sinister short meditations by the perp pointing to a new victim, and twists to keep the reader on their toes. The forensic detail, as always, is both fascinating and meticulously accurate. Although this is book 13 in the series, and the continuing interactions between the characters is important to readers, Anderson kept us focused on the plot throughout. I did wish I’d re-read Follow the Dead before this one, as the reverberations from that case were present through the book – but not to the extent of spoiling it as an excellent stand-alone.

A pacy, gripping PP from the point of view of a forensic scientist, with plenty of action and atmosphere. A treat for Rhona MacLeod fans, and a great introduction to her and her world for new readers. Highly recommended.
Reviewer: Marsali Taylor

Lin Anderson was born in Greenock. She attended the University of Glasgow and Edinburgh. Lin is a Tartan Noir crime novelist and screenwriter. Whilst best known as the creator of forensic scientist Rhona MacLeod, Lin  has a second mystery thriller series featuring private investigator  Patrick de Courvoisier, set in glamorous Cannes (think  The Rockford Files meets James Bond). As of 2010 the Rhona MacLeod books are being developed for ITV. 

Marsali Taylor grew up near Edinburgh, and came to Shetland as a newly-qualified teacher. She is currently a part-time teacher on Shetland's scenic west side, living with her husband and two Shetland ponies. Marsali is a qualified STGA tourist-guide who is fascinated by history, and has published plays in Shetland's distinctive dialect, as well as a history of women's suffrage in Shetland. She's also a keen sailor who enjoys exploring in her own 8m yacht, and an active member of her local drama group.  Marsali also does a regular monthly column for the Mystery People e-zine.

Click on the title to read a review of her recent book Ghosts of the Vikings

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