Source: Review copy
Publication: 16 Mar. 2017 from Saraband
Meet Jen, who works in a bookshop and likes the odd glass of Prosecco…oh, and she’s about to be branded The Most Dangerous Woman in Scotland. Jen Carter is a failed writer with a rubbish boyfriend, Ed. That is, until she accidentally kills him one night. Now that Ed’s dead, she has to decide what to do with his body, his drugs and a big pile of cash. And, more pressingly, how to escape the hitman who’s been sent to recover Ed’s stash. Soon Jen’s on the run from criminals, corrupt police officers and the prying eyes of the media. Who can she trust? And how can she convince them that the trail of corpses left in her wake are just accidental deaths? A modern noir that proves, once and for all, the female of the species really is more deadly than the male.
There’s a breadth and a depth to crime novels that means you seldom read the same story twice. Well, that’s certainly true of Ed’s Dead by Rusell D. McLean. I don’t think I have ever read anything like it. It is scabrous, laugh out loud funny, fast, furious and down to earth all at the same time.
Poor Jen Carter is the victim of the law of unintended consequences. Returning home one night to her flat after a few glasses of Prosecco too many, she is surprised by an intruder already in the flat. Fearing for her life she grabs a kitchen knife and, well, before you know it Ed is dead.
Alas poor Jen. She works in a bookshop, has a disastrous love life (not improved any by killing Ed) and is basically bossed around by every man she meets. So when she’s faced with a dead body in her flat and she sees what Ed was really doing there, her life jumps into an altogether different dimension.
Brilliantly paced, full of tension and a dry black wit, the novel follows Jen Carter as she is railroaded from one bizarre situation to another in an attempt to get her life back on to the rails it has so perilously swung away from.
Every way she turns there’s someone standing in her path waiting to bring her down. This could only be Glasgow as that dark and caustic wit accompanies a savagery that accepts casual violence and death as an occupational hazard.
Ed’s Dead provides a roller-coaster ride where the adrenalin junkie will be in seventh heaven and we find out what happens when Jen Carter gets fed up and becomes the homicidal bookworm that turns.
Verdict: Beautifully different, highly enjoyable, this is a gritty noir novel with a relentless pace that grabs you like a ferret with sharpened teeth and doesn’t let go ‘til its shaken the blood from your veins.
About Russell D McLean
Russel D McLean was born in Fife, and moved to Dundee where he studied philosophy at the University of Dundee. His speciality was philosophy of mind, but after he discovered the difficulty of funding a PhD he fell into the disreputable company of the booktrade.
Russel’s path to publication started at sixteen when he submitted his first full length novel to Virgin Publishing New Doctor Who Adventures. The novel was summarily rejected and he spent the next fourteen years perfecting his style before finally switching genres and writing dark crime fiction. His first paid credit was in Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine in 2004 and his first novel, THE GOOD SON, was released in 2008.
He has since been published in the US, translated into Italian, French and German, and was nominated for best first PI novel by the Private Eye Writers of America.
He spent over a decade as a bookseller in Dundee and Glasgow, writing at night. These days he writes full time from his office in a Gothic Monstrosity somewhere in Glasgow, supplementing his fiction work with editorial work for a variety of clients, a lot of events chairing, and just about anything that pays the bills. For two years (2014-16) he wrote a monthly crime fiction column for the Scottish Herald. And yes, he really did once share a flat with a cursed mask.
Follow Russell on Twitter @RusseldMcLean