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murderabilia300Written by Craig Robertson — Many of us had a hobby when we were children. Stamp collecting perhaps? Stock-piling beer mats? These days they go mad for Pokemon – gotta catch them all! Those old collections may well have been consigned to the charity shop, the bin or the attic. You’ve moved on, grown up. Now what to do? Perhaps take an interest in… murderabilia?

I’ll admit it wasn’t a word I’d come across before, just thought it was a snappy title for a novel. But do a quick Google search and you’ll see differently. It’s shocking and gut wrenching, but murderabilia is real.

A visit to Wikipedia revealed the following: Buyers typically seek collectibles that are either artefacts used or owned by murderers and items (often artwork) created by them. Virtually anything once owned by mass murderers or serial killers can be marketed, such as vehicles, houses, and especially weapons used in crimes. Clothing is also in high demand.

It’s that last sentence which rings true in this instance. A particularly twisted individual is on the loose in Glasgow, and when he displays his victim, naked, hanging from a railway bridge in full view of the busy train lines below, the dead man’s clothes in a neat pile nearby, DI Rachel Narey is on full alert – until unforeseen circumstances lead to her being removed from the case altogether.

Rachel’s partner Tony Winter has moved to the ‘dark side’ – a former police photographer, he is now working as a journalist for the local evening newspaper. It’s the instincts honed from the previous job that give him the edge on other snappers, and with Rachel on the sidelines he is cast as a central character in this unfolding drama.

The aforementioned pile of clothes is a case in point, and while Tony goes in hot pursuit of some missing items, Rachel, confined to bed, is beginning to climb the walls in frustration. Surely it can’t do any harm to surf the net a little? Unfortunately, what begins as a little research turns sinister as she is drawn deeper and deeper into the dark web. It’s a move that is fraught with danger, and when the killer strikes again it becomes clear that he or she is teetering on the edge of madness,

It’s amazing just how much trouble a person can get into without moving out from under the duvet – although fans of the Narey and Winter series will know that Rachel is never happy to sit back and let others to the dirty work. In among all the deadly darkness of this storyline there is some light relief in the shape of the deepening relationship between the two main characters.

This is a wholly engrossing read, made all the more so by the shift of power as Narey sits, reluctantly, on the sidelines while Winter is forced to rush in where angels fear to tread. The murderabilia aspect is particularly disturbing. What starts out as a bloodstained version of eBay soon descends to the depths of depravity, where shadowy figures will do anything and pay money to get the latest tainted addition to their macabre collections.

In Murderabilia, Craig Robertson has created a crime novel like no other I’ve read and if the subject matter made it hard to sleep then that was all to the good, as I really didn’t want to put it down! The battle for my top five reads of the year just got another contender.

In the previous Narey and Winter novel, In Place of Death, Robertson explored the concept of urbexing. Or, for an even grittier look at Glasgow, try one of Malcolm McKay‘s novels.

Simon & Schuster

CFL Rating: 5 Stars

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