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by Caro Ramsay
Michael Joseph, June 2007
416 pages
12.99 GBP
ISBN: 0718150023

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

DCI Alan McAlpine is a haunted man. He's done well in the job, but can never erase from his mind one of the first cases he worked on as a cadet the death of a beautiful and mysterious Dutch woman who was blinded in an acid attack.

Twenty years on, he's leading the hunt for a killer, who is murdering young women in Glasgow. But as the book progresses, McAlpine's life takes frightening twists and turns as the police attempt to unravel the links between the dead women, a young man recently released on licence from prison and a handful of suspicious priests. And as the book progresses McAlpine's personal life and career threaten to fall apart.

Caro Ramsay's debut novel is a sizzling to the Tartan noir crew. ABSOLUTION is a highly promising outing, even if the author can't do point of view for toffee one minute you're inside one character's head, the next paragraph she's hopped on to someone else.

And this is what stops an engrossing and accomplished book from being even better. My feeling is that ABOLUTION would have worked better if it had been limited to a couple of points of view possibly McAlpine's and that of young DS Costello (known to all-comers by her surname, having been saddled with the forenames Winifred Prudence!)

Costello is just one of a raft of memorable characters, including McAlpine's wealthy artist wife Helena who knows she must always play second fiddle to the memory of the dead woman, young PC Wyngate, known to everyone as Wingnuts, but who turns out to be a computer wizard, the flashy DC Vik Mulholland, he of the sharp suits and pungent aftershave (I loved the exchange between Costello and Wyngate about him: "Is he gay?" "No, he just helps them out sometimes!") and finally the decent but hassled DI Anderson, torn between his hard-drinking boss and his own collapsing marriage.

Ramsay keeps the tension ratcheted up at the end, as the police close in on the killer. The ending is both unexpected and shocking, and sets Ramsay an interesting challenge if she's to turn this fine start into a series.

Reviewed by Sharon Wheeler, May 2007

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