Monroe, Grace - 'Dark Angels'
This is the first novel from a pair of women writing in tandem under the pseudonym of Grace Monroe. It's set in Edinburgh and is based around the life and legal practice of Brodie McClennan.
She is called in to defend notorious dominatrix, Kailash Coutts, when Coutts is accused of murdering a celebrated Edinburgh lawyer. It's a complex case and becomes more confusing when Brodie is sent a chilling photograph establishing a link to a number of brutal murders in the city. There's a suspected paedophile ring haunting Edinburgh and some very powerful people are intent on covering up the past.
This starts off as an interesting book. Brodie herself is a complex character and she has a group of friends who are equally interesting and well-drawn. The setting draws both on the seamy underworld of the dominatrix, and on the ancient and secretive legal societies that exist in Edinburgh so it was a very different portrayal of the city to that given by Rankin or Jardine for example, which I liked.
However, much as I enjoyed the characters and the setting, I did feel that the plotting was rather weak. There seemed to me to be too many coincidences for the story to be really plausible. And for all that Brodie did a lot of charging around on her motorbike and lurching from one discovery to another, she didn't seem to do much legal work. She was aided by a team of friends - policeman, pathologist, bodyguard-type hunk - all of whom seemed able to drop everything instantly and rush to assist her. Finally however the plot disappeared off into "Da Vinci Code" territory with a lot of tosh about bloodlines and templars. Shame, as this could have been a decent crime novel if it had stuck to the serial killer/paedophile plot lines and not muddied the water with highly implausible conceits.
I'd be interested to read what happens to Brodie McLennan next, though. This is planned to be a series, and now that the bloodlines gibberish is out of the way she might actually get down to some real work. I'd like to read that.
Pat Austin, England