I’m a huge fan of Owen’s books and I’m delighted to be reviewing his latest novel “In Harm’s Way” for the blog blitz on publication day! Thanks to the publisher, Bloodhound Books and the author for my review copy.
I’m not going to lie I’m kinda glad Owen has come back to Scotland for his latest novel. Scottish crime fiction is my bag and when one of your favourite Scottish crime writers returns to their roots it sends a little shiver down my spine!
Before I share my thoughts, here’s what the official blurb says:
What if someone you loved was in harm’s way?
What if you were being stalked and no one believed you?
What if you were abducted in broad daylight?
What if you were held captive in a cellar?
What would you do?
Mackenzie Crawford screamed.
What if your wife admitted she had a lover?
What if she went out without saying where she was going?
What if you discovered she’d left?
What would you do?
Derek Crawford fell apart.
What if a troubled woman disappeared?
What if her brother begged you to help?
What if there was no evidence of a crime?
What would you do?
In Glasgow, DI Andrew Geddes puts the case to the top of his list.
A cracking prologue kickstarts this read with an unknown narrator seeking a remote location in the Scottish countryside and it’s clear he isn’t just looking to escape the rat race!
Family relationships are examined against a backdrop of lies, secrets and mistrust. We watch as Mackenzie Crawford and her husband Derek’s relationship goes into meltdown. Derek can’t bear the thought of losing her but what lies beneath her self-destructive behaviour?
Strong and bold narrative paves the way for this psychological thriller; authentic characterisation with just the right mix of suspense. Fragile yet toxic is the first impression I had of MacKenzie, hellbent on destroying her relationship. Her alcohol dependency means that nobody believes her when she says she is being stalked. When she doesn’t return home one night it isn’t hard to believe that she has upped and left her marriage but the reader sees her life descend into a new twisted hell. Her experience of being stalked but not believed had my heart in my mouth, I could almost feel the confusion and fear that was going on inside of her head.
I didn’t warm to Derek Crawford one little bit, domineering and controlling, he made me feel quite claustrophobic and to be honest I didn’t blame MacKenzie one little bit for wanting out of the marriage. I actually felt sorry for MacKenzie, it seemed that nobody was on her side, her sister Adele and sister-in-law Monica saw her as manipulative and ungrateful. I felt myself shouting, come on women, what about the sisterhood here!
Scenes of MacKenzie’s capture were brutal but not overly graphic, just the right amount of description given leaving the rest for the reader’s imagination. I didn’t get an overwhelming sense of fear in those scenes but the plot focuses more on relationships within the family and it definitely felt like a more character-driven read than plot led, if this makes sense. There wasn’t the same sense of place in this book as in the author’s previous Charlie Cameron novels, although a few familiar Glasgow locations do pop up and I love to imagine myself driving the same route as the characters. DI Andrew Geddes is the detective leading the hunt for MacKenzie and some readers may recognise him from the Charlie Cameron series. I’d be delighted to see Geddes and Cameron team up again in a new series and I wonder if this novel is the author’s first step in this direction!
“In Harm’s Way” is an intriguing and dark read which once again proves that Owen Mullen is an author who is always on the lookout for new directions to take with his characters, his plots and his novels.
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