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The Suffering of Strangers by Caro Ramsay (Anderson&Costello #9) @severnhouse

November 30, 2017

Source: Purchased copy

Published: Severn House 30 November 2017

 

When a six-week-old baby is stolen from outside a village shop, Detective Inspector Costello quickly surmises there’s more to this case than meets the eye. As she questions those involved, she uncovers evidence that this was no impulsive act as the police initially assumed, but something cold, logical, meticulously planned. Who has taken Baby Sholto ? and why?

Colin Anderson meanwhile is on the Cold Case Unit, reviewing the unsolved rape of a young mother back in 1996. Convinced this wasn’t the first ? or last – time the attacker struck, Anderson looks for a pattern. But when he does find a connection, it reaches back into his own past . . .

Goodness me, but this one is a corker. For all sorts of reasons this one is a heart stopper; a tear jerker with real emotional depth.  Evoking strong feelings, this book has a brilliantly thought through plot, which warps and wefts its way through a complex set of motives and characters until we finally understand what has happened and why.

Anderson and Costello are on different paths when the book opens. Anderson is now running the Cold Case Unit, and not only missing the action of front line detecting, but feeling the love for his old team, too.

Costello is now in the Domestic Abuse unit and Wyngate and Mulholland are on desk duties, following their last case.  An over-wrought and somewhat over anxious mother leaves her baby, Sholto,  in the car outside a shop for a few minutes and when she returns, both the car and her baby have disappeared. The car is soon found just around the corner, complete with a baby in the seat, but is the mother right when she says it isn’t her baby?

Costello is assigned to the case alongside the case she already has;  that of a mother who has disappeared following on from a social worker trying and failing to inspect the woman’s home and her young baby.


Costello quickly realises that baby Sholto’s abduction must have been carefully planned and prepared, but why? Meanwhile,  Anderson is looking into an old rape case
but he is reluctant to pursue it until his bosses make it clear that they are hoping to find an ambassador for their cause if he can sweet talk an old friend into helping the police.

For much of the early part of the book, Anderson and Costello are working their separate cases, and yet, unbeknowst to them, there are parallel lines running alongside them. When it becomes clear that there are simply too many connections to be ignored, this case will widen into one that has startling consequences for more than one member of the extended Anderson and Costello team.

I like the early distance between Anderson and Costello and the alienation between Costello and the Procurator Fiscal, Archie, also helped to underline the cold and calculating nature of the crimes in which so many people were involved.

It takes a while fore the plot to coalesce, but when it does and the team are drawn inexorably back together, the action punches its weight through the story and gives the reader a wholly plausible and very scary scenario in which the suffering of strangers is only the start.

The characters are compelling and certainly more than a little flawed, which makes them more likeable than ever – and I love the way in which Anderson and Costello never really agree on anything.

The Glasgow setting is brilliantly done in this book, I love the way that Caro Ramsay has been able to knit the history and geography of Glasgow into the heart of her plot. I have certainly learnt a little more about the city than I knew before I started.

In short then, a compelling and complex tale which makes for a riveting read. Highly recommended.

Amazon                                                      Waterstones

About Caro Ramsay

220px-CaroRamsay2009

Caro was raised on the south side of Glasgow, around  Govan. She thinks she is  the only person she knows who was drummed out of the Brownies for insubordination – badge-less!

She was the youngest person ever to graduate from the British School of Osteopathy in London, and after graduating she immediately returned to Glasgow to establish her own practice.

It was while recovering from a very bad back injury, that she decided to put pen to paper and started writing the book that was to become her debut novel, Absolution, published in 2007, to be followed two years later by the thrilling Singing To The Dead.

Caro is the proud possessor of a Diploma in Forensic Medical Science  to make sure, she says, that  the fictional post-mortems are more Grissom than gruesome.

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