Campbell, Karen - 'Shadowplay'
Yet another excellent Scottish crime writer has emerged: Karen Campbell is the latest talented wordsmith to join the posse that is steadily growing in this part of the world. SHADOWPLAY, her third novel, contains a delightful combination of extremely well written prose alongside realistic Scottish idioms and phraseology. The book's storyline is excellent and the whole thing is very well developed. To put it simply, it rocks! Campbell has paid a great deal of attention to details and her efforts have paid off: SHADOWPLAY is gripping and absorbing, with no badly written bits to make you squirm. The only bad thing about this book is that it has to end.
The story concerns a newly promoted female chief inspector - Anna Cameron. Anna is thrown in at the deep end in her first posting as DI. While not exactly being the shy and retiring type herself, she has a total bitch of a boss to contend with and several nasty cases to solve: the murder of a young Asian boy, the kidnap of an elderly woman and the harassment of one of her staff by local neds. All of these have Anna tearing her hair out in frustration, then matters are made worse by her mother falling ill in Spain, where she has been living. Anna flies to visit her, after dropping everything in order to do so, and gets into a lot of trouble upon her return.
As she struggles to come to terms with what is happening in her life, Anna is forced to face several home truths about herself, her work place and her future in the force. Anxious to stay both a good person and a good/fair police officer, she takes a good look at the people around her and doesn't really like what she sees. How much of herself will she have to compromise in order to continue to progress in the job she loves and how far up the ladder can she go while still being Anna?
SHADOWPLAY is polished, finely crafted and dominated by Anna's need to survive and find her place. As mentioned earlier, this is Campbell's third book and is also the third featuring Anna Cameron. Thankfully, there is no real need to have read the earlier books in order to catch up with events. Neither does SHADOWPLAY read like a book in a series. It has its own message to deliver and is far more than just another case for the leading light to solve and be given praise for.
Karen Campbell is herself a former policewoman - one of those brave souls to walk the beat in Glasgow - and the fine details in the book pay homage to her past. One wonders how many of her own experiences are hidden in the pages of this book. SHADOWPLAY was short-listed for the CWA Gold Dagger Award - a fitting tribute to this lady whose stories are as intricate as they are grammatically precise.
Read another review of SHADOWPLAY.
Amanda C M Gillies, Scotland