Scottish crime

Missing Believed Dead

Missing Believed Dead
Publisher:
Published: 27 Jun. 2013
Author's Twitter: @ChrisLongmuir
Missing children! Internet predators! Dead bodies! She crossed his arms over his chest, and placed the jade beads in his eyes. ‘To remind you of me,’ she said. Jade was 13 when she disappeared, five years ago, and DS Bill Murphy suspects someone from her family is responsible for recent Dundee murders. But is it her mother, Diane, who now suffers from OCD? Or Emma, her twin sister, who was catatonic for a year after Jade’s disappearance. Or Jade’s brother, Ryan, who enjoys dressing in women’s clothes and is going through a sexuality crisis, unsure whether or not he is gay. What happened to Jade? Is she alive or dead? Or has she returned to wreak a terrible revenge on all male predators?

Reviewed  Jan Needle

The (fictional) subject of grooming and targeting girls on the internet for sex is getting dangerously close to cliché, unfortunately. There’s hardly a TV thriller any more than doesn’t hinge on some form of child abuse, and – important subject though it is – it can feel just a wee bit hackneyed.

So when I started Chris Longmuir’s Missing Believed Dead, and entered the world of a mysterious, creepy man driving his van from Manchester to Scotland to meet ‘Jade’ for a cyber date, I must confess my heart sank a little – for the wrong reasons. Despite the taut scene setting and the quality of the writing, I feared I was in for yet another harrowing but essentially unsurprising trawl through the expected.

Wrong. Jade was indeed a victim, and white van man sure as hell hadn’t arranged to meet her to have a chat about any problems she might be having at school. His vehicle was bursting with the required gear. Mattress, eye-bolts welded to the floor, black-out, the lot.

And when both the innocent young lady and the dirty old man ended up together in the back, something very nasty did indeed happen. There was a corpse, with beads jammed into the eye sockets. Jade beads. Jammed in with violence and intent. Jammed in by Jade, though, not the man.

Next day however – next moment for the reader – the boot is suddenly on other foot, the more usual one. This girl is called Megan, and she is young, blonde, beautiful. She is laid out on a rug on a floor of dirt, and part of her ponytail has escaped and spread across her face. The worst is about to happen. As it had happened to another girl, another victim of this man.

This book, set in Dundee, in Scotland, is many things, and proceeds in several interlinked strands. By chapter three it has turned into a police procedural, with officers struggling to unravel the startling mystery at its heart. But it is also about families, and appalling loss, and it is not afraid to delve into the misery that crimes like this, and the revenge that follows, must bring.

There is another book about the same detectives, Kate Rawlings and Bill Murphy, and I hope there will be more. It is gripping, thoughtful stuff.

Review by Jan Needle

 

Night Watcher

Night Watcher
Publisher:
Published: 11 Dec. 2013
Author's Twitter: @ChrisLongmuir
Two stalkers, one target! A mysterious stranger arrives in Dundee, with a mission to find a new Chosen One to punish. He selects Nicole, a woman with a weakness for men. One of Nicole’s paramours is found hanged and everyone assumes he has committed suicide. However, his estranged wife, Julie, knows better and blames his death on Nicole. Obsessed with the need to punish Nicole, Julie stalks her, unaware that there is another stalker, the deranged and dangerous Night Watcher. Who will exact punishment on Nicole first? What price will Nicole have to pay for her misdemeanors? Will Julie’s mind games drive Nicole over the edge? And what price will Julie have to pay for her obsession? Only the Night Watcher knows! Night Watcher is the first book in the Dundee Crime Series.1