I’m delighted to be reviewing an early copy of Neil Lancaster’s, Dead Man’s Grave, this really is one you DO NOT want to be missing!
LONGLISTED FOR THE 2021 McILVANNEY PRIZE FOR SCOTTISH CRIME BOOK OF THE YEAR
Dead Man’s Grave is published on 16th July 2021 and at the time of posting this review, the kindle version is only 99p….what are you waiting for!
Before I share my thoughts, here’s what the official blurb says:
This grave can never be opened.
The head of Scotland’s most powerful crime family is brutally murdered, his body dumped inside an ancient grave in a remote cemetery.
This murder can never be forgotten.
DS Max Craigie and DC Janie Calder arrive at the scene, a small town where everyone has secrets to hide. They soon realise this murder is part of a blood feud between two Scottish families that stretches back to the 1800s. One thing’s for certain: it might be the latest killing, but it won’t be the last…
This killer can never be caught.
As the body count rises, the investigation uncovers large-scale corruption at the heart of Police Scotland. Now Max and Janie must turn against their closest colleagues – to solve a case that could cost them far more than just their lives…
This is a new direction for Neil Lancaster, who is probably best known for his thriller series featuring Tom Novak. This time around he has delved into the police procedural and set it in my favourite place to be when reading crime fiction, Scotland! I remember hearing Neil talk on a podcast ages ago about the inspiration behind this book; so it was a very real pleasure to read it and see how he had breathed life into the story.
I have to start off by saying that Neil Lancaster really is the master of getting inside your head and setting a scene; not only from a sense of place but also in terms of setting that sense of tension and unease inside your gut. He did it in spadesful here. With locations familiar to me and characters who stepped out the pages right from the start he was always going to have me hooked but he did it and then some!
Dead Man’s Grave is a tale of modern day organised crime tied up with a feud dating back to the 1800s, and as such really is an attention grabbing storyline. Such intricate plotting and attention to detail meant I was caught up in the investigation all the way from Glasgow to the Highlands and right down to London. It took me on a whirlwind rollercoaster ride of a journey.
This is the first (I hope) in a series featuring DS Max Craigie. Max has joined the Serious Organised Crime Team, based out in Gartcosh (a ten minute drive from me!) and has come from the Met. Immediately, we know Max is hiding something, he didn’t just take this move for a change of scenery or a return to his Scottish roots, no, there is something going on in Max’s life and while some of it is explored and uncovered in this book, there is plenty to keep you coming back for seconds, thirds and more! Making use of flashbacks to tell of Max’s time in army, Neil Lancaster created some scenes which were brutally raw and charged with emotion.
Max is teamed up with DC Janie Calder, a woman who has got more than her work cut out trying to carve out a niche in a world that seems dominated by Neanderthals. But she is no pushover and while she is most definitely on the cookie side of quirky, there is a real strength about her and she has plenty opportunities within the storyline to give the meatheads their bits to play with on a plate! Meaning I had more than one occasion to fist pump and smirk! I think this pairing is going to be a match made in heaven!
The book feels authentic from beginning to end and I suspect that the author uses much of his own experience to inform his writing as there is an intense realism within the pages, something that draws the reader in and keeps them there. It really is an immersive experience to read this book.
As far as I’m concerned, this is an outstanding start to what I expect will be a highly successful and addictive series and I cannot wait for the next installment! Go buy it now, you will not be disappointed!
Dead Man’s Grave can be purchased via
About the author
Neil Lancaster is the No.1 Audible bestselling author of the Tom Novak series. He has served in the RAF as a Military Policeman, in the UK, Germany, Cyprus and the Falkland Islands. He has worked for the Metropolitan Police as a Detective, investigating serious crimes in the capital and beyond. As a covert policing specialist, he has used a variety of tactics to obtain evidence against murderers, human traffickers, drug dealers and fraudsters.
He now lives in the Scottish Highlands, writes crime and thriller novels and works as a broadcaster and commentator on true crime documentaries. He is a key expert on two Sky Crime TV series, Meet, Marry, Murder and Made for Murder.