Recent Events

Friday 11 January 2019

‘Still Dark’ by Alex Gray

Published by Sphere,
March 2018.
ISBN: 978-0-7515-6439-6 (HB)

Detective Superintendent William Lorimer is on the prowl again, hunting down Glasgow's lowlife and, as it turns out, picking up the trailing threads left by the case his creator Alex Gray documented in The Darkest Goodbye.

Still Dark opens with Lorimer in an uncharacteristically poor state, following a disastrous hostage situation which left him crippled with PTSD. He is sent to Castlebrae, a real-life centre where policemen damaged in the line of duty are given a chance to recover – and it's while he's there that he spots a familiar face on a TV programme. It not only convinces him that the contentious unfinished business might actually have a solution, but also pulls him out of the depressive torpor which put him in Castlebrae.

With the help of a supportive new deputy chief constable, Lorimer sets about assembling a team to chase down the one who got away – the prime mover in the end-of-life scam he exposed in the earlier case. But the villain is canny, an expert at disguise, and he has the backing of one of Glasgow's leading drug lords, so it's not going to be easy...

Alex Gray hasn't been dubbed a premier exponent of tartan noir for nothing. She evokes the dark underbelly of Glasgow in almost tangible detail: the homeless men and the hostels, back alleys and greasy-spoon cafes they inhabit, the obscene luxury in which the drug lord and the scammer revel. Equally well portrayed are the treatment centre, the glossy new police headquarters and the small tech supplies shop where an important discovery takes place. And it's all set against the dreary February climate for which western Scotland is notorious. Few other crime writers can match Gray's gift for bringing a background to life.

What's more, she's pretty expert at creating characters. Lorimer himself is a stand-out; broken at first and hating himself for it, but determined to pull himself out of the mire, and soon back to his normal, perceptive, tough yet sensitive self. His wife Maggie is supportive, but very much her own person. Detective Superintendent Mitchison, possibly the only person in Glasgow to despise Lorimer and therefore automatically a bad 'un, oozes charm and is doomed from the start. Feisty DC Kirsty Wilson, centre stage in the previous investigation, is very much a part of this one. And then there's Tam, one of Glasgow's many homeless, who is more perceptive and determined than anyone gives him credit for.

DS Lorimer is that rare breed of detective, a well-balanced, happily married man with a rich life outside the job – surely born for the small screen. I look forward to seeing him there, and in print again in the not too distant future. 
Reviewer: Lynne Patrick

Alex Gray was born 27 May 1950, Glasgow.  She was brought up in the Craigbank area of Glasgow and attended Hutchesons' Grammar School. She studied English and Philosophy at Strathclyde University and worked for a period in the Department of Health & Social Security before training as an English teacher.  In 1976 she lived in Rhodesia for three months, during which time she got married, and she and her husband returned to Scotland. She continued teaching until the 1990s, when she gave the profession up and began to write full-time. Alex is a member of the Femmes Fatales crime writing trio, together with Alanna Knight and Lin Anderson. Her  novels are all set around Glasgow and featuring the character of Detective Chief Inspector Lorimer and his psychological profiler Solomon Brightman.

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.

No comments:

Post a Comment