Prayer for the Dead: An Inspector McLean Novel
This cleverly crafted police procedural tracks two investigations. The main one is triggered by what looks like a bizarre ritual murder, the victim’s bloodless corpse found in a system of hand-carved passageways and chambers of unknown origin beneath Edinburgh. The other starts with a shady real estate development deal but is soon obliged to shift focus to more serious crimes. As the reader might guess, the two are connected, the second providing a critical piece of evidence for the first. The strength of Prayer for the Dead lies in the intriguing crimes and their interaction rather than the path leading to their solution — routine, painstaking police work that succeeds thanks only to a fortuitous break. This depiction may well reflect the lead detective’s constant inter-office battle with his superiors, but this latter is overdone and wears thin after a while. The superior writing is an attractive feature of this mystery, the author’s obvious facility with apt and creative descriptions on frequent display. At times, too much incidental material is introduced, making the story longer than necessary, but, this cavil aside, Prayer for the Dead is definitely worth reading.
Crooked Lane Books