I’m delighted to be taking part in the Blog Tour for Claire MacLeary’s latest novel Runaway, the 3rd in the Harcus and Laird series. Thanks to Kelly at LoveBooksGroup for inviting me onto the tour and to the publisher and author for the ARC to review.
Before I share my thoughts, here’s what the official blurb says:
When Aberdeen housewife Debbie Milne abruptly vanishes without trace, leaving behind her two young children, husband Scott is too distraught to sit out the police’s 72-hour window and await developments. He turns to local detective agency Harcus & Laird.
Put off by previous “domestic” cases, Maggie Laird isn’t keen, but is cajoled by partner Wilma Harcus into a covert operation. Together they comb through meagre scraps of information, eventually trawling the city’s women’s refuges and homeless squats, in spite of the deadly danger.
Then a woman’s body is discovered in a Dundee builder’s skip. With the clock ticking and the police struggling to make identification, the race is on. Claire MacLeary fashions a surprising, gritty, fast-paced tale with the warmth and wisdom of ‘women of a certain age’.
Runaway begins with a desperate husbands call to the police to report his wife missing. I could almost hear the call handlers boredom seeping through the pages and Scott Milne’s realisation that they were not taking Debbie’s disappearance seriously. When he approaches Maggie she is reluctant to get involved. But as usual, Wilma has other ideas! The pressure is on for both women and it remains to be seen if their partnership will survive.
Runaway is the third in the Harcus & Laird series and while you could read it as a stand-alone it most certainly works better to read from the start. This not only gives a better understanding of how the two women came to be working together but they also reference previous plots and each book follows on from the last.
I’m not going to rattle on about the plot, the blurb talks about that. For me, the lure of Claire’s books is the well-drawn characters, the relatable sense of place and that gentle reminder to the world that women do not need to behave in a certain way no matter what their age or circumstances. With the addition of references to the #MeToo and #TimesUp Campaigns, Claire MacLeary uses her characters to challenge some of the attitudes that prevail. She does it with both sensitivity and at the same time with humour. The author loves to smash the gender and age stereotypes and also to challenge the idea that local dialect in the narrative is a bad thing! And it has to be said she excels herself at this. Claire MacLeary maintains authenticity to her writing by including real-life cases that are similar to the investigations in the novel. Along with the most realistic sense of place and the Doric dialect, open one of Claire’s books and you will find yourself stepping into the streets of Aberdeen!
Wilma’s relationship with her husband Ian remains fragile in Runaway but I love the way Claire MacLeary has developed her character through the series. We have watched as Wilma has grown in confidence and in strength and it is a delight to watch her stand up to her husband and forge her way forward.
Maggie remains conflicted about many things in her life, the business, her children, her relationship with Wilma as well as clearing her late husband’s name. Wilma and Maggie couldn’t be any more different in looks as well as in their outlook on life. They are the original chalk and cheese. Yet this pairing is dynamite. This is a series that is definitely made for adaptation to a TV series! I’d love to see this on the small screen!
I have to say as an avid fan of this series, Runaway, is my favourite. I have loved watching the characters grow and develop over the three novels. I feel as though I am a part of their lives and look forward to each new installment of the series.
Don’t forget to check out what the other bloggers have been saying:
Runaway is available to purchase from
About the author:
Claire MacLeary lived for many years in Aberdeen and St Andrews, but describes herself as “a feisty Glaswegian with a full life to draw on”. Following a career in business, she gained an MLitt with Distinction from the University of Dundee and her short stories have been published in various magazines and anthologies. She has appeared at Granite Noir, Noir at the Bar and other literary events. Claire’s debut novel, Cross Purpose, was longlisted for the prestigious McIlvanney Prize, Scottish Crime Book of the Year Award 2017, and Burnout was longlisted for the Hearst Big Book Award 2018. Runaway is her third novel and continues the Harcus & Laird series.