ABSOLUTION is the first book from this Scottish author, with the second - Tambourine to be released 2008. There's obviously something in the water in Scotland - or maybe it's all that time stuck indoors in the long cold winters, but the number of assured, confident books coming out of that place is getting to the startling stage. ABSOLUTION is definitely assured, with a story-telling style that is absolutely enthralling.
The main component of the book is the hunt for the serial killer - the 'Crucifixion Killer'. To be honest it's a pretty standard serial killer plot, with a perpetrator that's not difficult to spot, but the point of the book seems less to do with the crime and a whole lot more to do with the impact of crime on the investigators. McAlpine is a truly tortured soul. In the 1984 incident, he was already a fragile man, emotionally drained by events in his own family, and with hindsight, what seemed like an easy job - guarding a dreadfully injured, unknown young woman backfired badly. He becomes so involved in who she is and what happened to her that he is never able to forget, never really recovers.
In the 2006 investigation, his personal fragility is starting to get on top of him - badly. As his team continue the investigation, and try, out of friendship for him and genuine feeling for his wife; to continue the investigation, to compensate for McAlpine; to understand - he falls apart in front of them. His behaviour becomes more and more erratic, his distress less and less controlled.
And it's impact of crime that becomes the main point of ABSOLUTION. The serial killer has victims - those victims have friends and families and associates. And victims aren't necessarily good, or nice, or as ideal as people perhaps think. And investigators can sometimes become victims as well. Whether that's psychological or physical, well we've all seen what happens when investigators put themselves into jeopardy. Only in ABSOLUTION the jeopardy is not what you think, and whilst it might not be hard to work out where the past has leaked into the present, it sometimes ends in ways that you may not expect.