Source: Review copy
Publication: 4th July 2019 from Sandstone Press
George ‘Genghis’ McCann has stolen – and lost – a priceless masterpiece. Snooker champion Oscar ‘The Showman’ Bowman is charged with betting fraud. With a second baby on the way, and promises of great rewards if he wins Bowman’s case and recovers the painting, defence lawyer Robbie Munro has never been so tempted to fix the odds in his favour.
William McIntyre is a Scottish criminal lawyer and so is his protagonist, Robbie Munro. Robbie is a solicitor whose Linlithgow practice survives by the grace of the Legal Aid Board; he is a jobbing solicitor doing his best to prove the innocence of his clients and more often than not he flies by the seat of his pants to do so.
Fixed Odds is the 5th Robbie Munro novel and can easily be read as a stand-alone. Since I last read one of William McIntyre’s Munro books, Robbie has settled into a long term relationship with his one time employee, Joanna and they have a baby well on the way, bringing a sibling to his daughter, Tina. It’s a good relationship. As Robbie says: ” “I kept no secrets from my wife – other than, obviously, the things I didn’t want her to know”. He is close to his father, a retired member of the Lothian and Borders police service. Robbie’s brother, Malcolm, used to be a professional footballer until an injury forced him out of the game. Now he is a sports broadcaster, enjoying his slight claim to fame.
For all that they jibe at each other, the Munros are a pretty close knit family.
McIntyre has a light, humorous, touch and his characters are hugely enjoyable to read. George ‘Genghis’ McCann is a serial housebreaker, junkie and partner of Shona. Genghis is in the nick awaiting trial for breaking into an old woman’s home. Shona wants Munro to get him out, because, basically, he broke into the wrong house and ‘only stole a few things’ while he was there.
Oscar ‘The Showman’ Bowman, is an arrogant cold snooker player, charged with betting fraud. Munro takes his case for the fee, but hasn’t bargained on Bowman’s reluctance to provide any kind of defence.
When Genghis is murdered, Robbie gets more deeply involved in the case. It seems that Genghis stole something that was worth a great deal more than he realised. Robbie’s eye for the main chance leads him to take some risky and questionable decisions and it is only the intervention of his sensible, Ovaltine eating, life partner that brings him back to heel.
There’s a great deal of warmth and dry humour and some lovely quick witted repartee flowing through this lightly humorous yet often quite tense legal thriller. McIntyre writes his characters so well and the interplay of light and shade is very well executed. I love the portrayal of the the Scottish criminal justice system (with a named hat tip to the Dean of the Faculty of Advocates) and the interaction between the lawyers, the police and others involved in the legal process is authentic and priceless.
Verdict: A legal thriller that is full of wit and larger-than-life characters to delight the reader. An entertaining legal mystery with a darker core, this is another winner in the Munro series.
William McIntyre is a partner in Scotland’s oldest law firm Russel & Aitken, specialising in criminal defence. He has been instructed in many interesting and high-profile cases over the years and now turns fact into fiction with his Robbie Munro legal thrillers. He is married with four sons.