Friday, 28 November 2014

Truth Dare Kill - Gordon Ferris


Ferris sets his crime thrillers in the immediate postwar period, when everything was still rationed but already people were starting to wonder how we could have won against the odds and yet seemingly lost everything.  His Douglas Brodie quartet is set in Glasgow, whereas Danny McRae is a private eye in London.  Otherwise, the two protagonists are much too similar - born in Ayrshire poverty, both ex-Glasgow coppers, both elevated to rank in the war, both damaged by the experience.  To be fair, McRae is much more damaged.  He was an SOE operative captured by the Germans and beaten to within an inch of his life.  As a result he is visibly and mentally scarred.  He has lost an entire year of memory and suffers crushing headaches during which he loses days and suffers all sorts of visions.  During these episodes, who knows what he gets up to?

A rare paying client sucks him to a dark family secret which also opens a door onto his own past.  Further than that, it wouldn't be fair to go, because Ferris revels in tangled webs for his plots.  On that score, I will content myself by saying, the final twist is an absolute stunner which I, for one, did not suspect.

Otherwise, Ferris writes well, very well.  His characters, male and female, are equally interesting and fully rounded.  His research rings true.  I will certainly be on the lookout for the second McRae, The Unquiet Heart.

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