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by V. L. McDermid
HarperCollins, November 2003
336 pages
ISBN: 0007173490

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

After an eight-year absence, HOSTAGE TO MURDER brings back Scottish journalist Lindsay Gordon for a sixth adventure.

Lindsay and her partner Sophie are back from California and are now living in Glasgow as Sophie has been offered the obstetrics chair at the university. Lindsay is jobless and aimless until one morning on her daily run she collides with a woman called Rory. Rory is a freelance journalist who receives most of her stories from the gay and lesbian community. Rory recognises 'Splash' Gordon and offers her a job. Lindsay considers this and after deliberating, accepts the job. As well as job issues there is tension at home as Sophie wants a baby and Lindsay does not -- and Sophie is prepared to choose a baby over Lindsay.

Meanwhile, in another part of town, Bernie Gourlay is making plans to escape her life, again. Seven years ago she fled Belfast and the IRA and more particularly Patrick Coughlan. Unfortunately Patrick has found her and has sent two of his men to retrieve something she stole from him. At the same time her son Jack is kidnapped by his real father, an Italian diplomat, and taken out of the country. Getting very little help from the police, Bernie's husband Tam goes to his journalist contact Rory to see what she can do.

Lindsay tracks Jack down to St Petersburg and hatches a plan to get him back. The trip to Russia begins a chain of events that will lead to tragedy and heartbreak for Lindsay as well as the Gourlays.

Contrary to my expectations and what the cover says, calling this a 'Lindsay Gordon mystery', HOSTAGE TO MURDER is not a traditional mystery novel. There are some deaths near the end but there's no mystery about who did the killing. In fact the style of the book is a thriller with some tense scenes in St Petersburg and later, in Glasgow. The theme of the book is what lengths people will go to, to have and protect their children.

Though this was a swift read, I felt let down by some of the reasons behind events and also the ending seemed implausible. The three main characters appeared selfish to me and I didn't warm to any of them. Finally, though I do like to be educated when I'm reading, I know more now than I ever wanted to about the practical side of artificial insemination.

In short this is probably one for long-time Lindsay Gordon fans who want to see what she's up to, rather than the newcomer to the series, like me.

Reviewed by Karen Meek, March 2004

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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