Most crime novels start with a murder. This one begins with a failed investigation. Glasgow in 1969 has been terrorised for months by the serial killer known as the Quaker, who has murdered three women after meeting them at the Barrowlands dance hall. The police have a description, a witness, numerous tip-offs from callers. Hundreds of men have been interviewed and eliminated from the enquiry. Women live in fear. Then the killings stop.
DI Duncan McCormack, a high flyer from another team, has been assigned the task of assessing what went wrong in the murder investigation. This immediately sets him apart from his colleagues. When another body is found, he is in an invidious position, mistrusted by the officers he needs to work with to solve the crime.
McCormack is an outsider in a city which is all about tribes. Catholic or Protestant, Glaswegian or Highlander, Gaelic or Scots, Freemason or not. It is also a city in flux – as the inner-city tenements are being demolished and people clamour to move out to the new towns of the west coast.
This is overwhelmingly a world of men and the novel asks interesting questions about the nature of masculinity, but it also has haunting interludes from the women who died, telling their stories in their own words. The Quaker is a novel steeped in the mood of a city and its people, with a very distinctive voice.
I received a copy of The Quaker from the publisher via Netgalley.
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Enjoyed this? Take a look at my review of A Dark So Deadly by Stuart MacBride