I was recently moderating a panel at Bute Noir featuring Douglas Lindsay and in preparation for the event, I read a couple of his books.
Before I share my thoughts, here’s what the official blurb says:
From the author of The Legend of Barney Thomson, recently released as a major motion picture starring two times Academy award-winner Emma Thompson, comes a dark, brooding new crime series.
Police detective Ben Westphall is burnt out and leading a quiet life in the North of Scotland. Things change when he is assigned to investigate the cold case of a UK national who disappeared in Eastern Europe under mysterious circumstances and who, despite being declared dead, has re-appeared, claiming to have been held for over a decade, various body parts having been harvested during that time. Westphall travels to Estonia, chasing leads and shadows that may lead to an international drugs and organ trafficking conspiracy.
A new series from the author of the Barney Thomson series kicks off with “Song Of The Dead” featuring Detective Ben Westphall. For fans of the Barney Thomson series this is a departure from the author’s dark humour and sees him deliver a much darker and much more serious crime series.
I found Westphall to be an intriguing character who captured my imagination from the outset. He’s a burnt out detective with a background in security service but there is something quite unique about him and his relationships.
Song of the Dead takes us on a journey from the North of Scotland to Estonia when John Baden, a man who had allegedly died 12 years ago, turns up at a local police station claiming that he had been held in captivity for all that time and being used to harvest body organs.
What follows next is a dark and sometimes quite sombre tale of trafficking, murder and suicide. I felt a real sense of emotion reading this book, at times so heavy it felt like I’d been smothered in a weighted blanket. Don’t take this the wrong way, it is not a criticism but rather a demonstration of just how well the author places the reader at the heart of the novel. There were many poignant moments in the book, the story of the puppet maker punched me in the guts and broke my heart.
It is haunting, engaging and melancholy all at once; an intelligent read that will have you pondering long after you turn the last page. This is most definitely a series for the watching.
Song of the Dead is available to purchase from: