I received this from the publisher through NetGalley. I requested specifically because of the setting. Not only is it set in Scotland but features Glasgow! I love Scotland and Glasgow is such a fun place. Tons of history and really cool people, it's the perfect setting for a book.
Title: Where No Shadows Fall
Author: Peter Ritchie
Page Number: 291 pages (ebook)
Genre: fiction, murder, mystery, thriller
Publisher: Black and White Publishing
Year: February 2019
Expose the truth or let the dead lie still?
Grace Macallan's life is on an even keel – at last. But a 9-to-5 career away from the front line isn't all it's cracked up to be.
So when she's sent to investigate a suicide at Glasgow's notorious Barlinnie prison, Grace gladly escapes her desk. The dead inmate is Tommy McMartin, heir to a ferocious criminal family. His murder conviction saw Tommy's fall from power; cast out not for violence but because the victim was his gay lover.
The investigation drags Grace into contact with her McMartin adversaries of old. But the gangland dynasty is under threat and, as it topples, secrets once dead and buried are unearthed.
As she unravels Tommy McMartin's fate, Grace senses someone watching her from the shadows, someone who aches for revenge. An awful dilemma faces her: to expose the truth or let the dead lie still.
This is the fourth or fifth in the series and I hadn't read the other books so I think that counted against me as I was going in blind. That being said, this book started big. If I remember correctly, a body was thrown into the Clyde (River) in the first chapter!
Grace Macallan is at a desk job with the police when her character appears, she used to have a more exciting job but the removal from the front line is for her sanity. She's asked to investigate a suicide at the Barlinnie Prison in Glasgow. I'll be honest, I lived in Scotland for years and I had never heard of Barlinnie Prison even though it's the largest prison in Scotland. I have (strangely enough) heard of a few of it's more infamous inmates.
The suicide is a man named Tommy McMartin, who was a rising member of the McMartin Crime Family until he was convicted of murder. Macallan has had run-ins with the McMartin family so this isn't a new scene for her. Before Grace Macallan graces the pages, Peter Ritchie details Tommy's rise and fall from the crime family and his life in prison. The prison scenes do include the rape of Tommy from other inmates who are foes of his family. I mention it because I don't like rape scenes in books, although I understand Ritchie's purpose in including it. I skimmed this section after the first scene because it was upsetting but that's just me.
Glasgow had a bit of a reputation (before I was in Scotland) for being home of some of the violent crimes of the country. There were gangland wars and vicious attacks (the 'Glasgow Smile') and lots of drugs. Now the most dangerous thing in Glasgow is the deep fried mars bar. I'm being facetious there but it's so much better. If you want to dive down a hole, I would suggest Glasgow's Ice Cream Wars. It sound absurd but it was an absolute crazy series of events.
Back to the book, Tommy McMartin had been the heir apparent to 'Slab' McMartin (over Slab's children). Tommy was violent, smarter (than the two siblings) and perfect leader material except that he liked to go out, get wasted and go home with men. Murder and violence is okay for Slab but not being gay, so when Tommy is discovered with the murdered body of his lover, Slab writes him off. Tommy can't remember what happened that night but doesn't think he murdered anyone and his lawyer believes him but Tommy is still convicted of murder.
Ritchie lays out Tommy's life before the murder, during and after in the first part of the book. So by the time Grace shows up, it's at least 30 per cent through, maybe more. Other than Tommy, there's the body that's been thrown into the Clyde by an unknown person, the mystery of who really killed Tommy's lover and who is following Grace with ill intent. Honestly, there's more than that. Lots of subplots meander through the novel with different point of views delineated by chapter. Ritchie does wrap it all back up by the end and connects all the plots together but this is not a book that you can read fast and not pay attention to. It took me a few days because I read it in spurts as my mind wasn't as focused as I'd like.
This is a character driven work. Pretty much every character gets a backstory, even the guards that are mentioned for only a few pages. The characters drive the action (even though with the gang murders and jockeying for power also moves things forwards). I tend to not like books that are overly descriptive with characters but in this (rare) case, I think it helps as I jumped into the middle of the series.
The patter within the book is Scottish (varying between the country and the cities) and it seemed authentic to me, but I'm not Scottish so I'm not always great at perceiving the differences (even between Edinburgh and Glasgow).
I thought it was a good book but I think I had trouble getting through after the rape scenes (this is my hang-up), and like I mentioned, it's not a book that read fast. It's a gritty, character driven novel about the power dynamics of a crime family and the secrets that they bury. I think I had it between 3.5 and 4 stars, and rounded it up to four because I really liked how Ritchie resolved the mysteries and how complex it all was.