Thursday, January 27, 2011
Shadows of Sounds. Alex Gray. Allison & Busby Ltd. (2005)
A low key, very enjoyable police procedural. A member of the City of Glasgow's orchestra is murdered in his dressing room just prior to a performance. Detective Chief Inspector Lorimer finds that an abundance of possible suspects complicates the case and makes it hard to close in on the relevant ones. As the investigation proceeds it becomes clear that the victim was involved in a number of overlapping relationships as well as some other shady activities. A second murder complicates the case and the threads of the investigation become steadily more tangled. The reveals are nicely staged, the investigation is thoughtful and logical, the cast are developed well and the conclusion is satisfying.
Alex Gray avoids the most common situations and circumstances that are used in the genre, the lead detective is both sober and married, the police officers are competent professionals who behave with restraint and good sense. The rest of the cast are treated with the same respect, they emerge as people who have complicated lives and are all the more engaging for it. There is one relatively major character whose presence is not actively tied into the story, his presence is not obtrusive or distracting just a little puzzling in the end.
The story is very well structured, the knot at the centre is a nice one and the way that it ties the cast together is engagingly played out. A significant act of considered kindness, not entirely unselfish in its motives, is handled very well and leads to unexpected and credible conclusion. Alex Gray is not at all shy about the hurt and damage that people are willing to inflict on each other, her calm writing makes it more forceful. A good fun read.