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TOOTH FOR A TOOTH
by T. Frank Muir
Soho Crime, November 2013
320 pages
$26.95
ISBN: 1616953187


Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

A woman’s body is found buried in someone else’s grave, and it soon becomes clear that she was DCI Andy Gilchrist’s older brother’s girlfriend just before the brother, Jack, was killed in a hit and run accident some twenty years prior to the discovery of her body. The young woman, Kelly, had been thought to have moved to Mexico from St. Andrews leaving Jack in the lurch. Andy spends most of the book tracking down Jack’s killer and attempting to keep Jack from being posthumously framed for killing Kelly. In the process, he sorts through his memories of Jack, Kelly, and their friends and acquaintances from that earlier time. Each new lead he follows, person he interviews, photo or document he reviews, leads him further into his memories and closer to finding Jack's and Kelly's killers.

A cigarette lighter, found tarnished and scratched in the grave with Kelly, provides clues that seem to lead to Jack as Kelly's killer. Andy borrows the lighter to have it looked at more closely, and the fact that the presumed killer was his brother, combined with an already hostile relationship with another police investigator, Tosh, results in Andy's needing to evade police capture as he gets closer to the truth. Against all odds, the car that killed Jack and letters and postcards to and from Kelly are found and subjected to modern forensics. There are many plot developments along the way that put Andy into grave danger, and while these are suspenseful, they take a back seat to Andy's memories and thoughts.

This is the third in the series featuring DCI Andy Gilchrist, although it is the first I have read. The first third of the book focuses so heavily on Andy's thoughts and relationships that I found it difficult to stay interested. Since I do follow many series from book one, I realize how this approach is very appealing to series followers; however, as a new reader in this case, I did not have enough invested in the Andy to care much about him and found this section of the book tedious. Some authors are able to bring a longstanding character to life quickly for new readers, but Muir was less successful at this for me.

I presume that previous books in the series have also built the case for the antipathy between Tosh and Gilchrest, but the fervor with which Tosh pursues Andy as he is working this case stretches the belief of a reader who hasn't previously encountered the two. Although Andy makes a case for a strained relationship with Tosh based on Andy's finding Tosh abusing a prostitute during an arrest, the depth of hatred exhibited by Tosh seems over the top.

The plot of the book makes sense, and when the killers are identified the reader can find the logic. By the end of the book, I was hooked and wanted to see how Muir put the all the pieces together. During the bulk of the book, however, I found myself fading in and out of engagement. The book may have been far more successful for a follower of the series, but it has not made me want to go back to the earlier books.

§ Sharon Mensing is the Head of School of Emerald Mountain School, an independent school in the mountains of Colorado, where she lives, reads, and enjoys the outdoors.

Reviewed by Sharon Mensing, November 2013

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)


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