Sunday, 12 August 2012

"Cold Grave," by Craig Robertson

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Stuff and Nonsense by Amy Cockram is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 UK: England & Wales License.

I decided that I should dig into my review pile again.  It was complete coincidence that I chose to read another Glaswegian crime novel, this time courtesy of Simon and Schuster.

Craig Robertson's detectives are DS Rachel Narey and police photographer Tony Winter, who are in a relationship which they keep secret at work.  Rachel's father, who was also in the police force, now lives in a home and suffers from Alzheimers.  He is sometimes unable to remember who Rachel is, but he remembers and is haunted by the violent death of an unidentified young woman whose murder he was unable to solve.  Rachel sets out to try to solve this cold case and release her ailing father from its hold, and her re-opening of the nineteen-year old mystery sets in motion a further sequence of events.

I enjoyed the company of Craig Robertson's characters, and Rachel Narey's relationship with her ailing father was poignantly portrayed.  Tony Winter is also an interesting character who has a ghoulish fascination with his grisly work; he is a man who is always fated to see the aftermath but never the event itself.  Winter's photography seems to fetishise, or at least aestheticise, violent death at a remove from the victim.  This is one thing that I like about this novel; it has a complicated relationship at its heart - that of the relationship between detective and victim.  For Winter and Narey it is a complex one, in which the thrill of chase is tempered by moments of reflection when they remember the violent death of a person at the heart of their mystery.  It's almost like  - stick with me in this simile, as I'm not totally sure it works - the murderer is an exciting lover who they are pursuing and yet, occasionally, they pull themselves up and remember the pain of the victim, like an adulterer who has a sudden moment of guilt in thinking of the faithful partner at home.

This novel takes a more traditional whodunnit form than the novel by Anna Smith that I wrote about in my previous post.  This is my more normal crime preference.  However, I think I do have the crime malaise again.  Once again in this book, there was one point - I won't give away what, as it would be a fairly significant plot development - where I could clearly see the author being vague to allow the reader to go down the wrong path.  I like to read a crime novel for entertainment, and I don't like to be aware of the mechanics of the author's trickery.  When I do start to become aware of it, I usually take it as a sign that I need to move away from the crime genre for a few books.

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