Saturday, 27 July 2013

Night Watcher by Chris Longmuir

Review by Bill Kirton

Another book which proves that Chris Longmuir, who wrote the prize-winning Dead Wood, knows the ingredients you need for a tense, satisfying crime novel and can put them together in a way that keeps multiplying the cliff-hangers and keeps you asking what will happen next. The story is set in an atmospherically-conveyed Dundee, the people and their contacts are created with those little touches of ‘ordinary’ behaviour that enhances their reality and behind them all, creeping through the book’s shadows, there’s an anonymous figure determined to complete the ‘missions’ set by the voice he hears in his head. He’s introduced in the opening paragraphs as, already responsible for at least one murder, he arrives in the city with his next victim already chosen and an absolute certainty that he’s doing the right thing.

Cleverly, though, some of the ‘normal’, ordinary people who make up the small cast of central characters, are equally driven – by power, lust, revenge – and equally capable (or so it seems) of extreme actions to achieve their aims. Although there are clearly goodies and baddies, trust is in short supply. In their cases, there’s no inner voice urging them to destroy the lives of others, but their motives and impulses are potentially just as deadly. Love is transactional, infidelity is the norm and Longmuir keeps the focus tightly on them as the night watcher observes them from his shadows. The resolution is delayed up to the final pages with not just one twist, but two.

It’s a very enjoyable read from a writer who knows exactly what she’s doing.