Sunday, 3 March 2019
PETER RITCHIE - WHERE NO SHADOWS FALL (2019)
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.
Where No Shadows Fall is the fourth novel in Peter Ritchie's Detective Grace Macallan series, but my first outing with this author and main character. Based on what I read here, he's definitely someone I would be keen to read more from, either back-tracking on something earlier in the series or perhaps waiting for the next instalment.
With the pages of guff before and after the novel, the book is 400 pages long - 380 of which is story. I read 50 Thursday, 190 Friday and blasted through the last 140 on Saturday. Necessary interruptions for sleep and work would otherwise have seen me finish sooner.
An interesting premise - Macallan gets to look into the suicide of an inmate at Barlinnie prison. Our story is told from various perspectives throughout, so we already have elements of Tommy McMartin's tale and the events that led to his imprisonment. Macallan digs and before too long is convinced that there's more to his conviction than meets the eye. Strong-willed and not easily cowed, Macallan doesn't mind stepping on a few toes in the police force to get to the truth.
Ritchie certainly knows how to spin a yarn..... criminal dynasties, competition, family feuding, ambition, corruption, a fit-up and an investigation of omission, police complicity, informers, low-level enforcers, psycho-head-the-balls, sexuality, friendship, family secrets and fractures, an empire on the wane, new sharks circling, murder, kidnap, confrontation, and after a breathless few hundred pages - eventually some chickens coming home to roost.
I do like reading about criminality and getting the low down from an outlaw's perspective. And here we spend enough time with the villains to more than scratch that particular itch.
I really liked the characters, the setting, the plot, the way Ritchie told his tale - all compelled me to turn the pages, a bit faster and faster.
One minor gripe, I had. There was one separate story strand, which runs through the book, unrelated to this case as such, but possibly a hangover from an earlier Macallan outing I guess, which didn't really seem to fit the narrative - it almost seemed bolted on and superfluous. Maybe if I had read the earlier books, it might have made more sense and I would have gotten something out of it, but it didn't quite work for me. The climax of this particular plot point, does have an impact on Macallan and her family, but I would have enjoyed the book more without this thread.
Overall though, I really enjoyed it. Peter Ritchie goes onto the list of top Scottish authors I enjoy - Douglas Skelton, Alan Parks, Malcolm Mackay, Douglas Lindsay, William McIlvanney etc
The earlier books in the series are - Cause of Death, Evidence of Death and Shores of Death. Our Little Secrets will be the fifth.
4 from 5
Read in March, 2019
Published - 2019
Page count - 400
Source - review copy from Black and White Publishing
Format - paperback
Black and White Publishing website is here
Where No Shadows Fall links - AMAZON UK US CANADA AUSTRALIA