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Monday, 26 February 2018

‘Follow the Dead’ by Lin Anderson

Published by Macmillan,
10 August 2017.
ISBN: 978-1-5098-0701-7(HB)
Published by Pan,
22 March 2018. 
ISBN: 978-1-5098-0703-1 (PB)

Like earlier novels in this series, Follow the Dead features two protagonists, forensic scientist Rhona Macleod and Detective Sergeant McNab of the Glasgow Police. Rhona is on holiday with her partner Sean in the Cairngorms to celebrate Hogmanay (the Scottish New Year) while McNab, is in the process of getting a tattoo on his back to disguise a bullet wound received during military service in Afghanistan and taking rather a fancy to the pretty girl tattooist Ellie, herself a walking gallery of tattoo art, is expecting to celebrate Hogmanay in Glasgow. Neither is able to do so. Rhona is called out to a plane crash in the mountains and then to a rock shelter where the bodies of three climbers have been found; there was a fourth climber, Isla, where is she? And McNab is called out to a rowdy night club which results in a massive haul of cocaine and a number of arrests of men having sex with under-age girls, in particular a 13-year old from Syria who had been smuggled into Scotland via Norway. She had been injured during the raid and is taken to hospital but disappears.

Meanwhile, the crashed plane has been discovered; the pilot's body is further away from the plane, apparently dead of injuries received during the crash. A search of the plane reveals remnants of a substantial amount of cocaine, but where is the bulk of the cocaine? Then the missing climber is found, alive but only just, and suffering from extreme hypothermia. Her story is that she had gone out during the night to relieve herself, had then got lost, and a stranger appeared and offered to guide her back to the rock shelter. But he did not, and Isla realised that his intentions were malign. She manages to get away and hide. But who was the stranger? And why should he want to kill her? A third strand is the arrival of Norwegian detective Alvis Olsen who believes that the two series of events are linked, not only by the cocaine but by the trafficking of refugee children not just for sexual exploitation but for something far worse. A fourth strand is the possible involvement of McNab's childhood friend Davey Stevenson with the leading Glasgow gangster Brophy. All these strands are brought together in a compelling narrative which moves from Glasgow to the Cairngorms to Stavanger in Norway culminating in a thrilling denouement across the North Sea in the depths of a winter storm.

I was particularly struck by the author's vivid and compelling description of the perils of a Highland winter and the role played by the Cairngorm Mountain Rescue Team to which the book is dedicated, also by her knowledge of forensic science techniques so necessary to establish the manner and time of death which makes such an important contribution towards establishing criminal liability. She thanks the Norwegian police authorities for providing information on which the episodes in Norway are based and also information regarding human trafficking.
Reviewer: Radmila May

Lin Anderson was born in Greenock. She attended the University of Glasgow and Edinburgh. Lin is a Tartan Noir crime novelist and screenwriter. Whilst best known as the creator of forensic scientist Rhona MacLeod, Lin has a second mystery thriller series featuring private investigator Patrick de Courvoisier, set in glamorous Cannes (think The Rockford Files meets James Bond). As of 2010 the Rhona MacLeod books are being developed for ITV. 

Radmila May was born in the U.S. but has lived in the U.K. since she was seven apart from seven years in The Hague. She read law at university but did not go into practice. Instead she worked for many years for a firm of law publishers and still does occasional work for them including taking part in a substantial revision and updating of her late husband’s legal practitioners’ work on Criminal Evidence published late 2015. She has also contributed short stories with a distinctly criminal flavour to two of the Oxford Stories anthologies published by Oxpens Press – a third story is to be published shortly in another Oxford Stories anthology – and is now concentrating on her own writing.

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