Monday, 1 July 2013

Missing Believed Dead by Chris Longmuir

This is the third book in Chris Longmuir's Dundee Crime series but it's the first that I've read. I didn't feel excluded by this however - merely intrigued. 

Detective Sergeant Bill Murphy appears to be shattered by previous experiences and his friend and former partner Detective Inspector Michaels is still in hospital. This means a new DI arriving in the Dundee office – a woman this time. Tough on the Dundee team and tough on DI Kate Rawlings as well. She's been happy in Forfar: Dundee presents a new and daunting challenge. 

Fortunately for working relationships DI Rawlings isn't given much time to antagonise her new colleagues or be antagonised by them. She and her team are swiftly involved in an ongoing investigation which is threatening to spiral out of control. Everyone's skills are needed if a final tragedy is to be averted.

This is competent, confident crime-writing: the sort that keeps the reader wanting just one more chapter ... and another and another. I read with pleasure and almost without pause and I now look forward to catching up on Longmuir's earlier series titles, Night Watcher and Dead Wood.

It's realistic writing too  – though I hope that there are some days in Dundee when it's not either raining, freezing or blowing a gale. Longmuir's tartan is distinctly noir. There's no glamour in this world – typical scenes take place in a sink estate where it's too risky to run your hand up the stair rail because of what might be smeared on it. But at least there's life in the estate, unlike the expensive mansion of a be-wigged and botoxed former actress or the shoddiness of the the pole-dancing club on the morning after when the cleaners come to work. No wonder Diane, the mentally fragile mother whose daughter has gone missing spends every day scrubbing until her hands are raw.

The plot twist is a good one and, although Longmuir doesn't offer a happily-ever-after ending, there is sufficient resolution of the drama and alleviation of the central characters' misery to leave the reader satisfied that ordinary life will go on. 

Until the next time Chris Longmuir picks up her pen, that is.

reviewed by Julia Jones