Source: Review copy
Publication: 5 August 2021 from Macmillan
My thanks to Lin Anderson, Philippa McEwan and Macmillan for an early copy for review
The Killing Tide by Lin Anderson sees forensic scientist Rhona MacLeod investigating a mysterious abandoned ship which has swept ashore in the Orkney Isles.
After a fierce storm hits Scotland, a mysterious cargo ship is discovered in the Orkney Isles. Boarding the vessel uncovers three bodies, recently deceased and in violent circumstances. Forensic scientist Dr Rhona MacLeod’s study of the crime scene suggests that a sinister game was being played on board, but who were the hunters? And who the hunted?
Meanwhile in Glasgow DS Michael McNab is called to a horrific incident where a young woman has been set on fire. Or did she spark the flames herself?
As evidence arises that connects the two cases, the team grow increasingly concerned that the truth of what happened on the ship and in Glasgow hints at a wider conspiracy that stretches down to London and beyond to a global stage. Orcadian Ava Clouston, renowned investigative journalist, believes so and sets out to prove it, putting herself in grave danger.
When the Met Police challenge Police Scotland’s jurisdiction, it becomes obvious that there are ruthless individuals who are willing to do whatever it takes to protect government interests. Which could lead to even more deaths on Scottish soil . . .
You’d think that after 15 books in this series, Lin Anderson might be resting on her laurels. Not a bit of it! She likes to keep things charged up and changing and the result is that The Killing Tide is a cracker of a read and puts the thrill back into thrilling!
At 432 pages, The Killing Tide is a meaty read and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Set between the atmospheric and beautiful islands of Orkney and Glasgow, The Killing Tide sees forensic scientist Rhona McLeod and her redoubtable sidekick and breakfast provider, Chrissie investigating three bodies aboard an abandoned ship that has washed up near the shore. The circumstances of their deaths seem both violent and a trifle bizarre and Anderson takes great pleasure in regaling us with details of the vomit recovered at the scene and subsequently inspected for information.
Meanwhile in Glasgow, DS McNab is called to an horrific scene in which a woman has died after being immolated. Whether self-inflicted or not remains to be determined, but McNab is pretty sure that the marks of cable ties on her wrists and ankles provide a ghastly clue as to which. Anderson doesn’t shrink from describing the lingering smell that hangs in the air, making this a place you know you’d rather not be anywhere near.
Ava Clouston is an experienced investigative reporter whose work across the world has garnered acclaim. She’s recently returned to Orkney after the death of her parents and now has to decide what to do about the family’s farm. Her younger brother wants to keep it and farm it, but he’s too young to take on that level of overall responsibility and Ava is not sure she is ready to give up her journalistic life to stay at home and farm with him.
She’s intrigued by the bodies on the ship and when she decides to look deeper into the case, what she uncovers has tentacles that spread further than anyone imagines and leads to a conspiracy that goes deep into the establishment.
At the same time it seems that both the Orkney case and McNab’s Glasgow immolation are linked and that provides the impetus for an old Met Police nemesis of McNab’s to make a return visit.
Lin Anderson writes about her characters with warmth and affection, inspiring the same feelings in the reader as we hang on every detail of how their relationships are faring and who McNab is sleeping with now. At the same time, she does not hesitate to show us the brutal and violent side of the crimes these much loved characters have to deal with. There is nothing cosy about this writing.
The beautiful, evocative Orkney landscapes clash with the horror of the crimes committed nearby and that adds a level of contrast which makes this a striking read.
Verdict: Brilliantly drawn characters make us care about this team and their personal and professional lives. The plotting is sharp and fast – paced and the storyline propulsive and genuinely thrilling. There were a couple of points where I had my heart in my mouth, fearing for McNab. This series still feels fresh and vital and I’d highly recommend it.
Lin Anderson is a Scottish author and screenwriter known for her bestselling crime series featuring forensic scientist Dr Rhona MacLeod. Four of her novels have been longlisted for the Scottish Crime Book of the Year, with Follow the Dead being a 2018 finalist. Her short film River Child won both a Scottish BAFTA for Best Fiction and the Celtic Film Festival’s Best Drama award and has now been viewed more than one million times on YouTube. Lin is also the co-founder of the international crime-writing festival Bloody Scotland, which takes place annually in Stirling.