Daly, Bill - 'Black Mail'
This brilliantly gripping first crime novel by this new author introduces Glasgow Detective Chief Inspector Charlie Anderson to readers.
Simon Ramsay, a successful and respectable businessman receives a horrifying email with a photo attached. In it he is ordered to produce £50K, or the sender will release the two-hour film, from which the photo is an excerpt, to the press, and his career and reputation will be in tatters. It seems that Ramsay has been regularly meeting his mistress in a small hotel for sexual trysts and someone has been secretly and covertly filming them in the throes of passion! What can he do? He urgently contacts Laura his mistress and explains the situation. He tells her that a blackmailer has managed to get his hands on a compromising photo of them in bed together. Laura is terrified of what her violent and controlling, jealous husband will do when he finds out about the affair and decides with Simon's agreement to enlist the help of a hoodlum, secretly, who works for her husband. She enlists, covertly, McAteer to take out the blackmailer. McAteer, who works for Laura's husband has kept a rifle hidden from his time serving in the forces in Northern Ireland and lies in wait for the blackmailer and shoots. Unfortunately, he has limited vision following being blown up by a bomb whilst in Northern Ireland and does not know until after he fires whom his target actually was!
DCI Charlie Anderson has to look into this shooting as well as all the other cases his team are investigating in this thoroughly engrossing and well written police procedural. As per usual in these types of stories there are a huge amount of leads to be investigated and a finite time in which to do it and as always there is a senior policeman threatening to transfer everyone and cancel overtime if they can't complete the task in hand. Anderson, however is not put off by all the pressure and he has an understanding wife and family to support him. Anderson is also trying to get his deputy Tony O'Sullivan married off to his daughter and the setting up and breaking of dates forms a good bit of the back story.
All in all a very gripping story from a new but extremely talented author who handles his subject matter with great dexterity and humour. This was one of the best first books by a British author that I have had the privilege to review in quite some time. I found the story immensely gripping and fast moving and the pages just shot by. The author has great story telling ability and the characters all have a rich credibility about them that is often absent from other books.
The locality of Glasgow is well evoked with plenty of references to the Scottish diet and humour as well as street names and other geographic mentions, which may have been a bit beyond me without the aid of Google maps. I enjoyed it tremendously all the same and will definitely look out for further books by this Scottish author who now lives and works in the south of France. Strongly recommended.
Terry Halligan, England
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