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Saturday, October 10, 2009

The Riverman. Alex Gray. Sphere (2007)


This is a low key, enjoyable murder mystery. A body is fished out of the Clyde river in Glasgow and appears to be an accidental death. A partner in an accounting firm finds some disturbing news and and talks to his Managing Partner about it. A woman receives letters informing her that her husband is having an affair and suspicion floods her life. The body from the river becomes identified as a murder and steadily the threads of the story start to wind around each other in an very engaging fashion as DCI Lorimer begins to investigate. The reveals are nicely staged and timed and the plot widens ans develops very well.

The story is driven by the large and well developed cast rather than by action set pieces, the tone is largely low key, it is the jostling emotional and professional agendas of the cast that provides the momentum for the story. Glasgow provides a welcome setting for the story, it is described with care and gives the story a very welcome sense of physical space. The cast is large and Alex Gray manages the multiple viewpoints with care, the cast are distinct and each one has enough humanity to engage the reader.

This is a very well told story, there is a credible motive at the heart of the plot, the reactions of the cast are reasonable and the action is restrained enough to be effective. The investigation is believable, the developments are logical. One of the striking aspects to the book is that none of the cast are stupid, they are greedy or insecure, they are never treated with a lack of respect by the author. The criminals and the police officers are allowed to be competent at least and this gives the book a nice depth. Well written and very satisfying.

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