Written by Neil Broadfoot — Last year, Neil Broadfoot’s debut novel Falling Fast was shortlisted for the Deanston Scottish Crime Book of the Year, in the hallowed company of such names as Peter May, Louise Welsh and Chris Brookmyre – and deservedly so, as you will gather from our review here.
The two leading characters of that story, local crime reporter Doug McGregor and his police officer contact and friend DS Susie Drummond, return for The Storm, but things have progressed since we last met. Doug is off the crime beat and on the news desk at the Edinburgh-based Capital Tribune, while Susie is battling to keep her life and career on track after the dramas that befell her in book one. In short, the pair are still friends but have little contact, work-wise. The situation is made even more complicated by Doug’s interest in Susie’s friend Rebecca, who just happens to work on the police media team.
Doug is already regretting his decision to leave the rough and tumble of reporting behind as he rushes to come up with a credible list of stories to take into the morning editorial conference. The editor Jonathan Greig is the sort of boss that nobody wants. He is bad tempered, mean spirited and an all-around pain in the arse. But would you wish him dead? Someone certainly does and they will get their wish before the meeting is over.
Greig is gunned down with deadly accuracy by an unknown sniper, and Doug has a front row seat. It’s an image that’s set to haunt him throughout this fast-paced and slickly plotted novel. After a night spent drinking away his terrors with Susie, Doug accepts an invitation to go visit his former colleague and mentor Harvey Robertson, who now runs a plush hotel on the Isle of Skye with his wife, Esther.
Doug is a main witness to a terrible murder and can’t be seen anywhere near the reporting of the story, so creating some space sounds like a good plan. But another high-profile and bloody murder, and the fact that something isn’t quite right with Harvey and Esther, soon prompts him to have second thoughts. When our hot-shot reporter disappears off the radar, Susie and Rebecca are worried but as the death count rises, and with no obvious link between the slayings, they have other things to occupy their time.
I am a fan of Broadfoot’s scattergun style of plotting and enjoyed seeing the tale unfold from a variety of angles. There are dead ends and shocks aplenty before this story pans out in spectacularly dramatic fashion. It’s a book that certainly pulls you in – there are times when you’re left high and dry, like a piece of driftwood on a beach, but then the next narrative tidal wave appears and buffets you off in another direction, hanging on for grim death and gasping for air.
So another cracker from an author on the top of his game, I just wish he’d decide if he is writing for a British or American audience. Words like ‘dove’ instead of ‘dived’ and ‘fit’ instead of ‘fitted’ will jar with his UK-based readers.
CFL Rating: 4 Stars