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Gray, Alex - 'A Pound of Flesh'
Paperback: 480 pages (Dec. 2012) Publisher: Sphere ISBN: 0751543845

Detective Chief Superintendent Lorimer has been appointed to head up a Serious Crime Squad during one of the coldest winters that Glasgow has experienced. This really gripping story about the murder of a series of prostitutes and their clients, in Glasgow by two separate serial killers opens in a very dramatic fashion. There appears to be no link between the two killers but there does appear to be a lot of bloodshed. The poor girls that are being slaughtered are described by this very talented author as so in need of a fix to feed their drug habits, that they stand out on freezing street corners so scantily dressed that you would imagine they should, perhaps, suffer at least chilblains in their cold mini skirted legs. Also, being killed at this particular time are several well-dressed business men - could the two crimes be connected?

DCS William Lorimer's appointment comes at a time when these are the first cases he has to handle. He needs to flex all his management skills on his new team drawn from many different sources and also give a daily press briefing on the progress of his team. Lorimer asks his friend Solly Brightman, a psychologist, to help him out. The enquiry takes on a new intensity when a prominent national politician from the Scottish Parliament is killed. Lorimer gets his team to check out all the important leads they are given but he is disturbed when he realises that the investigation is being sabotaged from within, when some vital confidential information is being leaked.

This very exciting story is further enhanced by the closeness of the relationship between Lorimer and his wife and separately hints of a relationship between a lesbian member of the enquiry team and one of the serial murders. The author uses the bleak, snowy, heavily leaden weather to great effect slowing the action right down and making the job of the investigation dramatically decelerate as the detectives have to fight their way around the city through weather-delayed traffic and freezing temperatures. The masterly plotted and very imaginative story moves on to the dramatic denouement.

This expertly researched book gives a very sensitive portrayal of the poor unfortunate girls who are so addicted to crack or heroin that to get their next fix they have to sell their bodies to men who should know better. I understand that this the author's ninth crime novel, but my first experience of her work which was absolutely excellent. It was a cracking good thriller and I was thoroughly engrossed until the final page. I will look out for her name in the future and I will try to check out her back catalogue. Recommended.

Terry Halligan, England
December 2012

Details of the author's other books with links to reviews can be found on the Books page.
More European crime fiction reviews can be found on the Reviews page.

last updated 15/12/2012 19:00