Source: Review copy
Publication: In paperback on March 22nd from Pan MacMillan
On holiday in the Scottish Highlands, forensic scientist Dr Rhona MacLeod joins a mountain rescue team on Cairngorm summit, where a mysterious plane has crash-landed on the frozen Loch A’an. Added to that, a nearby climbing expedition has left three young people dead, with a fourth still missing.
Meanwhile in Glasgow, DS McNab’s raid on the Delta Club produces far more than just a massive haul of cocaine. Questioning one of the underage girls found partying with the city’s elite reveals she was smuggled into Scotland via Norway, and it seems the crashed plane in the Cairngorms may be linked to the club. But before McNab can discover more, the girl is abducted.
Joined by Norwegian detective Alvis Olsen, who harbours disturbing theories about how the two cases are connected with his homeland, Rhona searches for the missing link. What she uncovers is a dark underworld populated by ruthless people willing to do anything to ensure the investigation dies in the frozen wasteland of the Cairngorms . . .
Oh my goodness, I do like a meaty book, and Follow the Dead is not only that but it also has everything I look for in a good crime novel. This isn’t in the least bit surprising as Lin Anderson is crime writing royalty. Her Rhona MacLeod books have been widely praised and for good reason. In this book, the 12th in the Rhona MacLeod series, which can easily be read as a stand-alone, Anderson has broadened her canvas to include not only the Highlands of Scotland, but also to explore the links between Norway and Scotland.
Follow the Dead is a brilliant and breathtaking story, populated with characters you want to know more about and through the course of the book, that you come to care about. Anderson takes such care with her settings; you can tell that she does extensive and immaculate research, because her vivid descriptions of mountain rescue in the Cairngorms – just one example – hum with authenticity. I’d not realised, though of course it makes perfect sense, that first responders on mountain rescues treat every scene as if it were a crime scene, which makes her choice of locations perfect for Rhona, her forensic scientist and our protagonist.
We begin our journey on a snowy New Year’s Eve in the Cairngorms. Rhona and her boyfriend, Sean, are having an Aviemore break while musician Sean plays a gig in the local hostelry. But when three dead bodies are found in a shelter on the mountain, together with a fourth body found at the site of a light aircraft crash, suspicions are more than aroused.
Meanwhile demoted DS Michael McNab, a man who never knowingly gets on with authority, leads a raid on the Glaswegian Delta Club; a raid designed to apprehend drug dealer Neil Brodie. What McNab finds is more than simple drugs abuse. They have stumbled on an horrific scene which implicates Brodie in sex trafficking, child abuse and drugs. Shot at, covered in cocaine and trying to care for a 13-year-old girl he has found at the club, McNab fails to get his man.
Meanwhile, the plane that crashed on Loch A’an in the Cairngorms is Norwegian and the Norwegian police are already convinced that one of the girls rescued from the Delta Club has been trafficked through Norway, a prime destination for a number of young refugees.
Detective Alvis Olsen, from Stavanger travels to Glasgow to work with McNab on a joint investigation and it is not long before they can see connections between the cocaine and trafficking in the Delta club and what has happened in the Cairngorms.
McNab doesn’t work too well with partners, though there are some quite telling similarities between the two men, as Rhona soon finds out.
Soon all three are embroiled in a welter of illicit activity which stretches to some of the most respected men in Scotland and Norway and links to child abuse and trafficking, and an extensive and utterly ruthless criminal network which operates across the Atlantic.
I really got caught up in this story. Anderson has that rare ability to write with real warmth and feeling for her characters, making them three-dimensional at the same time as she is leading you into the depths of a rich and intricately plotted story that both tugs at the heart and leaves you gasping with horror at the brutality.
I adore Rhona who is always her own woman and it was good to see McNab branching out a bit in his personal life too. The Norwegian element lent an additional edge to this series and the character of Alvis Olsen was a great foil to McNab’s irascibility.
Overall, this is a cracking five star read that is both dark and complex. Heartily recommended and the ppaperback is out this week. Go on , treat yourself, you know you want to….
About Lin Anderson
Lin Anderson is best known as the creator of the forensic scientist Rhona MacLeod series of crime thriller novels, and for her part in founding the annual ‘Bloody Scotland’ crime writing festival, dedicated to promoting Scotland’s other great national export. Lin’s Rhona MacLeod novels have been nominated three times for the William McIlvanney Award for the Scottish Crime Book of the Year.
Lin has a second mystery thriller series featuring private investigator Patrick de Courvoisier, set in glamorous Cannes (think ‘The Rockford Files’ meets James Bond).
Lin has written one non-fiction book: ‘Braveheart – From Hollywood to Holyrood’, telling the story of the making of the Braveheart movie, and exploring what became known as the ‘Braveheart Phenomenon’.
Lin is a graduate of the University of Glasgow (MA in Mathematics), University of Edinburgh (post-graduate degree in Education), and Edinburgh Napier University Screen Academy (screenwriting). She is a award-winning scriptwriter, with her work broadcast internationally on radio and TV. She received a Celtic Film Festival ‘best drama’ award for her ‘River Child’ film.
Lin is a former Chair of The Society of Authors in Scotland, regularly chairs events at literary and science festivals and conferences, and gives talks on ‘Forensic Fact Meets Forensic Fiction’, entertaining audiences with amazing true-crime anecdotes, and giving unique insights into her world of story-telling.
Follow Lin Anderson on @Lin_Anderson