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by Quintin Jardine
Headline, June 2010
384 pages
19.99 GBP
ISBN: 075532918X

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

A body is found on Arthur's Seat, just outside Edinburgh. It looks like an open and shut case of suicide, although successful Lithuanian businessman, Tomas Zaliukas, otherwise known as Tommy Zale, didn't seem the type to have killed himself. For that reason, newly-appointed Chief Constable Bob Skinner stubbornly refuses to let his subordinates close the case without digging more deeply into the man and his business interests. When they do, what is uncovered still seems to point to suicide as Zaliukas's wife has recently left him and, on top of that, it appears that his string of massage parlors across the city might have been a cover for the illegal trafficking of women. Even so, Skinner still isn't satisfied and kicks the case back down again with instructions to dig even deeper, and what Bob Skinner wants, Bob Skinner gets.

The body count soon begins to mount up in some unexpected areas and Skinner's daughter, Alex, now a partner in an Edinburgh firm of solicitors, ends up temporarily running Zaliukas's business interests on behalf of the man's wife, who has holed up in France.

The book is well-paced and, as ever, Jardine handles a huge cast with impressive skill. One of the things I enjoy most about these books is following the lives and loves of a diverse group of people brought together through a common line of work. At times I've been in two minds about the characterization of Skinner's daughter, as in some ways she's amongst the thinnest drawn and possibly least attractive - of the characters as we follow her rise through the ranks in her chosen profession, but here I found her less irritating than usual. It was also good to see the start of reconciliation between Skinner and friend and colleague, Andy Martin, although I felt this was one of the more rushed aspects of the book.

In spite of the usual problem with the need to explain large parts of the plot at the end, the book carried me along with it very successfully and I'd recommend it highly to anyone who had followed the series. For someone coming new to Bob Skinner and his world I think it will still present a satisfyingly complex read, as the back story to the people populating its pages is sufficiently well expressed without resorting to info-dumps. Definitely a good read.

Linda Wilson is a writer, and retired solicitor, with an interest in archaeology and cave art, who now divides her time between England and France.

Reviewed by Linda Wilson, November 2010

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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