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  • Title: Where No Shadows Fall
  • Author: Peter Ritchie
  • Publisher: Black and White Publishing
  • Publication Date: 7th February 2019

Early copy received from publisher for review purposes.

Description

Expose the truth or let the dead lie still?

Grace Macallan’s life is on an even keel – at last. But a 9-to-5 career away from the frontline isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

So when she’s sent to investigate a suicide at Glasgow’s notorious Barlinnie prison, Grace gladly escapes her desk. The dead inmate is Tommy McMartin, heir to a ferocious criminal family. His murder conviction saw Tommy’s fall from power; cast out not for violence but because the victim was his gay lover.

The investigation drags Grace into contact with her McMartin adversaries of old. But the gangland dynasty is under threat and, as it topples, secrets once dead and buried are unearthed.

As she unravels Tommy McMartin’s fate, Grace senses someone watching her from the shadows, someone who aches for revenge. An awful dilemma faces her: to expose the truth or let the dead lie still.

My Thoughts:

The fourth book in the Grace Macallan series was a book that I eagerly anticipated, this is a series I’ve followed from the beginning and have become somewhat attached to the characters. The writing never fails to emphasize the danger or the hard conditions that Peter Ritchie has his characters working under, something that I suspect comes from experience as opposed to imagination.
An immersive and thrilling read, this series has taken readers on a journey into the darkness of the criminal underworld and the hierarchies of the powerful, and brought them face to face with some of the most terrifying and impossible situations.

Without saying much about the plot, I will say that the scenes set in Barlinnie prison are some of the most powerful pieces of writing from Peter Ritchie. He manages to set the scene perfectly, convey the harshness of the atmosphere and the bleakness of the situations facing his characters incarcerated there without being overly dramatic or taking away from the seriousness of it all. But for me, what really steals the show is the characterisation.
Being able to see another side to an already complex character such as Tommy McMartin when he’s in prison really fascinated me. Ritchie’s writing has this wonderful way of making a reader not only feel the emotions of the personas at play, but to feel as though they are there in the moment. Seeing this powerful and dangerous gangland figure unravel and became fair game in prison, the abuse meted out to him had a serious impact, both physically and psychologically, left him feeling there was only one course of action open to him. Being able to make me feel sympathy towards Tommy shows the skill of the author perfectly, his writing evokes great emotion for a character who has possibly carried out some of the most violent and deadly actions in the gangland setting, I applaud Ritchie for this impressive feat.

Macallan’s life has moved on somewhat from the end of book three, and the continuity of her timeline has been wonderful to watch develop. The way that she has been cast makes for engaging reading, not the stereotypical female in a male heavy workplace. She has earned her place and the respect of those around her through hard work and years of working in some of the most dangerous environments. Watching her life take shape outside of the job allows readers to get to know this character deeply, understand some of her motivations and why she will always remember those who’ve helped her get where she is.
She walks a dangerous tightrope, balancing what is right for her family and what is right for her, whilst fighting the good fight and finding justice.

A brilliantly gritty crime thriller that adds to the series perfectly, it examines the bonds between family, loyalty and friends, leaving readers questioning what will happen next.

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summoning-the-dead-cover

Published: 6 October 2016
Reviewed: 24 November 2016

5 out of 5 stars

Copy supplied by author in return for an honest review

 

Description:

“We have a dead child, and a crime scene that has been remarkably well kept for us.”

A young child lies mummified in a barrel. His hands, cable-tied, appear to be locked in prayer. As forensic officers remove the boy they are in for an even bigger shock – he is not alone.

With his near-fatal stabbing almost a memory, DI Bob Valentine is settling back into life on the force but he knows nothing will ever be the same. Haunted by unearthly visions that appear like waking dreams, he soon understands he is being inducted into one of Scotland’s darkest secrets.

When the boy in the barrel is identified as a missing child from the 1980s, it re-opens a cold case that was previously thought unsolvable. When further remains are unearthed, the facts point to a paedophile ring and a political conspiracy that leads all the way to the most hallowed corridors of power.

Summoning the Dead is a fast-moving mystery that eerily mirrors current events, perfect for fans of Stuart MacBride, Angela Marsons and Ian Rankin’s Inspector Rebus novels.

My Thoughts & Review:

When I initially started this book I wasn’t sure what to expect, the subject matter didn’t sound like it would be the easiest book to read – the death of a child is always a tough topic to read about but I had faith in Tony Black’s abilities as an author and so dipped my toe into the murky abyss that awaited.

Summoning The Dead is actually the third book in the DI Bob Valentine series, but thankfully this can be read without having read the previous books (Artefacts of the Dead and A Taste of Ashes) but after reading this book I will be downloading the other ones on to my kindle asap.  Black ensures that there is enough detail in the book so that a reader can enjoy this without feeling that they have missed salient points from previous stories.

Weaving together stories from present day and from 1980s, the reader is witness to  the investigation into the discovery of a body of a young boy in a barrel which reopens a cold case from over 30 years ago.  But this shock discovery and the subsequent investigation leads to the unearthing of a complex web of child abuse and scandal that beggars belief.

The fact that this book deals with topics such as paedophilia and child abuse make it one that some readers will feel caution towards, however I do believe that Tony Black has written with sensitivity and care.  The plot is otherwise brilliant, it’s intriguing and cleverly twisted so that the reader can try and guess what is happening but does not always manage to second guess the author.

DI Bob Valentine is a wonderful character, and he is developed well throughout this novel.  The descriptions of him form a fantastic mental image, he’s weary from work and home life, he’s recovering from a near fatal stabbing but he’s still determined to solve his cases.  He comes across as a humble man, and he has an ability/gift to connect with the victims of the cases he works on, call it psychic powers, call it old fashioned “copper’s gut instinct”, it makes him a special character that is more connected to the cases he works.  His relationship with DS McCormack is so well played out, there is a great dynamic between the pair.  Her support to him with his gift/ability means he has someone he can speak openly with without fear of seeming foolish.

Short chapters make this a quick read, the writing itself is clever and a joy to read.  The marvellous descriptive nature of the writing really made me feel like I was there in the book, it’s never easy to describe Scottish weather – horizontal rain tends to receive questioning looks but in this book it works well!

I have a bit of a soft spot for tartan noir, and have been a fan of the genre for many years, and I can honestly say that I will be adding Tony Black to the bookcase alongside my prized copies of Stuart MacBride, Val McDermid and Ian Rankin’s books.

You can buy a copy of Summoning The Dead here

About the Author:

Tony Black is the author of 13 books, most recently A Taste of Ashes, the second novel in his DI Bob Valentine series. He has been nominated for six CWA Daggers and was runner up in The Guardian’s Not the Booker prize for The Last Tiger.

He has written three crime series, a number of crime novellas and a collection of short stories. His next crime title is DI Bob Valentine 3, Summoning the Dead in summer 2016.

For more information, and the latest news visit his website www.tonyblack.net or follow him on Twitter @TonyblackUk

 

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