Robertson, Craig - 'Cold Grave'
After the intensely hard-hitting novel RANDOM featuring a serial killer in Glasgow, Craig Robertson is compounding his place in the Scottish fiction crime genre with this second novel (the follow-up to SNAPSHOT) featuring the police scene of crimes photographer Tony Winter. In this novel there is a subtle shift slightly away from Tony to the main police protagonist DS Rachel Narey who has her own particular relationship with Tony but is characterised as an exceptionally focused and, for the most part, by the book police officer. What Robertson captures brilliantly in this book, however, is the impact of her father's (himself a former police officer) Alzheimer's which colours her actions throughout, both as a police officer and a daughter, being emotionally wrought by the deterioration of her father but with a single-minded determination to bring his last unsolved murder case, which has always been the chagrin of his life post-police, to a conclusion.
This unsolved murder case forms the basis of the book, leading Rachel to operate outside her usual moral and professional boundaries to attain justice for the victim and to put to bed this case that has so haunted her father. It's emotional stuff and despite my usual scepticism of a male author being able to effectively characterise women, Robertson accomplishes this with aplomb. This story is balanced effectively with the Tony and Uncle Danny show as they become involved in a connecting story-line involving a community of travellers which injects some humour amongst the blood-letting, though Tony's dark preoccupation with the photographs he takes for his day-job does pervade his psyche. You certainly get a full quota of human experience in this one.
I will finish by saying that as a reader and a bookseller, the delight about Robertson is the way he slots in so neatly between the more visceral and blackly funny Stuart MacBride and the generally safer confines of Rankin's Rebus, so what you get is a good solid police procedural underpinned by an adept feeling for the realm of human relationships and the darker recesses of the human psyche.