Enter Max Craigie:
Neil Lancaster introduces a new series with an upright cop, DS Max Craigie, as the protagonist, the PTSD-suffering ex-military man, who puts his career and life on the line to take down a family of ruthless gangsters.
The author says in his afterword, that the idea of Dead Man’s Grave come to him when, in a casual conversation, a friend recalled a grave with the warning that it must never be opened. Set in Scotland, the novel includes some of Lancaster’s own experiences in the army, law enforcement and as a covert surveillance expert.
When Tam Hardie, the much feared gang boss, who is known as “Peeler’ because of the torture technique he uses on his enemies—literally skinning them alive—is found dead in an old grave, his three power-hungry and violent sons plan to control the investigation, and takes over his criminal empire.
A local man Willie Leitch confesses to the killing to avenge an old family feud, and the cops are only to eager to close the case, but Craigie is not convinced that’s all there is to it. He uncovers a plot by the Hardies to kill all of Leitch’s relatives; more disturbing for him, is the rampant corruption within the Scottish Police Force, so that the Hardies know every step of the investigation and arrange to have people killed and evidence tampered with easily.
To silence Craigie, he is sent on enforced leave, but with the help of an equally honest colleague, Janie Calder, he continues his investigation, determined to bring down the Hardie Brothers and expose the bent cops.
He is tech savvy, principled, fearless, obdurate, and, like many crusading cops, is alone since his wife left him. When he starts his crusade, he has nothing to lose, but he does get support from unexpected quarters. The Hardies may know how to throw around money and use violence, but in the end – and it’s no spoiler — they are outsmarted by one man, who has determination on his side.
Dead Man’s Grave might have caricature-ish villains, and a few too-convenient, right-place-at-the-right-time sequences, but it is a thrilling page-turner. Polie procedural fans will undoubtedly welcome more Max Craigie books.
Dead Man’s Grave
By Neil Lancaster