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by Alex Gray
Allison and Busby, February 2005
288 pages
ISBN: 0749083301

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

The body of a prostitute is found in Glasgow's Queen Street station, her body posed with hands held as in prayer and a red carnation carefully placed between her palms. DCI Lorimer is called in to the scene, as are Drs Rose Fergusson and Roy Young, the forensic pathologists, and Dr Solomon Brightman, criminal profiler and psychologist.

Then a nurse is found dead at The Grange, a local hospital for neural diseases. DC Niall Cameron recognizes her as a girl from his home island of Lewis. She happened to be an exceptionally compassionate nurse, with a specialty in dealing with multiple sclerosis patients. Her body was left in the same position as that of the prostitute at the railway station. But how did the murderer get into the closed and locked hospital? Only one patient knows but she is in the terminal stages of MS and can neither talk nor move.

Meanwhile, Divine Lipinski, a 6ft+ black policewoman from Florida has been brought to Glasgow to explain some American policing to the members of the Glasgow force. She is staying with Lorimer and his wife, but Lorimer can never get to any of her sessions, since he is so busy with the murders. Divine inadvertently causes some problems in Lorimer's personal life.

Lorimer goes to Lewis to interrogate two patients who had been sent to The Grange's halfway house on the island the day after the murder of the nurse. Some of the patients have been violent in the past, and Lorimer has questions about how some of them, a nun, for example, can afford the fees.

Eventually, there are more murders, both at the hospital and at the railway station, and eventually they are solved. The book is depressing and there seems to be little logic to the investigation. However, it is worth a try, especially if you are a fan of the noir sub-genre. 

Reviewed by Barbara Franchi, December 2004

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