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Ferris, Gordon - 'Gallowglass'
Hardback: 384 pages (Apr. 2014) Publisher: Atlantic Books ISBN: 1782390758

This truly extraordinary story starts with the announcement, on the 26th June 1947 in the newspaper that he worked for, The Glasgow Gazette, that their former chief crime correspondent, Douglas Brodie tragically has died. He had been on trial for an unproven murder and it appears he has taken his own life in the face of the insurmountable amount of evidence brought against him.

Just three short weeks before he had been getting over the huge case he had been involved in during the winter and was adjusting to a quieter life writing daily for his paper, when one day he had been approached on the street after work and was asked to speak to the wife of a prominent Scottish banker. She, Lady Gibson, had taken him into her confidence and told him that her husband Sir Fraser Gibson had been kidnapped. Sir Fraser Gibson is the Chairman and Chief Executive of the Scottish Linen Bank.

Following their discussion, Brodie agrees to take the ransom money of 20,000 to the kidnappers. He is driven in Lady Gibson's chauffeur driven car to a series of phone booths as various instructions are given as the kidnappers are obviously checking that he is not being followed by the police. Finally, Brodie approaches the door of a tenement in a poor part of Glasgow and as he enters the building is struck on the head and loses consciousness. When he recovers he is shocked to see the dead body of Sir Fraser next to him and realises that the victim has been shot with the gun that he, Brodie, was secretly carrying. The briefcase that Brodie had with all the money had disappeared and the police arrived shortly after and arrest him for murder.

After appearing in front of a magistrate he is waiting to appear in Scotland's equivalent of a crown court but the case against him looks rock solid and he is most certainly facing the hangman's noose if he could only find a way out of this most depressing situation. One day Samantha, his defence advocate, comes to visit him and the warden who goes to his cell to fetch him is shocked to discover that Brodie has taken his own life. An ambulance and a doctor is sent for and the death is confirmed and the body is taken away for delivery to an undertaker.

What an incredible start to this very closely plotted book which I just could not put down until the nerve racking conclusion. I had the pleasure of reading and reviewing an earlier book BITTER WATER with great pleasure. The author also writes a different series, again also set in the aftermath of the Second World War but with the protagonist Danny McRae and I had the good fortune to read TRUTH DARE KILL the first story in the series for review purposes. Both series are very strongly characterised and plotted with excellent historic research. Strongly recommended.

Terry Halligan, England
April 2014

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 25/04/2014 16:36