Edinburgh must be the serial killer capital of Scotland. James Oswald recently introduced us to Inspector McLean in ‘Natural causes’, and now we have DC Cullen of the Leith police (who some may remember dismisseth us), assigned to an investigation of a missing person, a woman who is subsequently found strangled with a rope and stabbed in a cheap hotel. It’s a much grittier Edinburgh than Oswald’s although the characters are slightly less well-developed. For me, both novels suffer from a surfeit of police officers. Realistically, of course, this would be the case, but in the context of a fairly short novel it might have made sense to have conflated some of the officers flitting in and out of Cullen’s investigation into a smaller cast. This would have allowed the opportunity to expand and explore the characters of those remaining.
Surprisingly, Cullen seems to have very little angst, apart from having been betrayed by his ex-girlfriend. He is however, an intelligent police officer battling against an entrenched police culture, internal politics, laziness and stupidity.
I am hopeful however that the sequel will give Ed James the chance to flesh out at least the main characters a little more, as they are quite interesting.