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THE RIVERMAN by Alex Gray
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The River Clyde has collected its share of bodies through Glasgow's long history, and all have been retrieved by the riverman.
This winter a local accountancy firm loses one of their own to the river's fierce currents following an office promotion and bon voyage party held for a young employee. Duncan Forbes was a senior partner in Forbes MacGregor and investigating officer Alex Lorimer is unable to find anyone who witnessed the man's last moments. Neither does anyone have a bad word to say about the deceased, or at least not yet, and that is unusual enough to raise the DCI's eyebrows. Death can make angels out of devils yet for now, all concerned seem a little too keen to accept the idea of death by drunken misadventure. Not dismissing this, yet not overly suspicious either Lorimer follows his famous instincts to delve at least a little further, despite little encouragement from his ambitious Superintendant to do so. A little too much scotch, a little unsteady on the legs and the river claims another - it all sounds too neat for Lorimer to accept.
With reputation being all-important, it falls to the remaining partners of the firm to solider on and keep the news of possible disruption from clients both local and abroad. As more deaths follow, it seems that Forbes MacGregor is cursed. The strain of keeping up appearances in such turmoil is causing cracks to appear in what Lorimer discovers to be a well crafted facade of efficiency and financial prosperity. On the personal front, Lorimer is grateful to be able to once again call in help of his friend Dr Solomon Brightman, a psychologist often called into assist with Lorimer's most difficult and sensitive of investigations.
There is always the sense that author Alex Gray knows exactly what she is talking about; such is the impression of total authority and confidence in her words. THE RIVERMAN is the fourth book in this series showing a pleasing graduation of intensity and detailing of investigative procedure from the first entry, NEVER SOMEWHERE ELSE. They walk on the dark side for sure; the Lorimer/Brightman series is dancing with that level of seriousness that could yet deviate from "darkly" atmospheric to completely dour and unappetizing. Gray excels in setting the scene and has made the river a character without words in THE RIVERMAN, all but floating the mist right up out of the pages. Is it all becoming a tad too bleak and grey - the balance in this novel is precarious but it is felt that it has been a deliberate effort to make it so. As with other fine Scottish crime series that do no need to be named, Gray has a wonderful sense of place, firmly rooting her stories in Glasgow and making it more about the effects of urban discontent than of about the personal doings of the characters.
THE RIVERMAN would have benefited from some trimming of scenes that draw away from the tying up of the threads. In order to make the read more of an investigative experience for the reader the findings of other forensic personnel and consultants etc would have been a welcome inclusion. The viewpoint was narrow here for the police, yet included much of what for they were not privy to with the actions of the suspects as it all begins to fall apart for them.
A solid entry in a series that is up there with the best, included in that select group, if you'll forgive its mention one more time, of the "Tartan noir".
Submitted 10 years 6 months ago by
Tuesday, March 25, 2008 - 3:09pm
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