Shadow Man by Margaret Kirk

The Blurb On The Back:

Two brutal killings rock Inverness, and bring ex-Met Detective Inspector Lukas Mahler the biggest challenge of his career … 

The body of Morven Murray, the queen of daytime TV, is discovered by her sister, Anna, on the morning of her wedding day. But does Anna know more about the murder than she’s letting on?

Police informant Kevin Ramsay’s murder looks like a gangland-style execution. But what could he have stumbled into that was dangerous enough to get him violently killed?

Caught in a deadly game of cat and mouse, is ex-Met DI Lukas Mahler hunting one killer, or two? 

The Review (Cut For Spoilers):

DI Lukas Mahler transferred to Inverness from the Metropolitan Police to help look after his mother who suffers from mental health issues but isolated himself from his new colleagues when he reported a corrupt but popular senior officer to the authorities with DS Karen Gilchrist being particularly hostile to him.

With the Major Incident Team short staffed, Mahler’s asked to take the lead on two murder investigations. The first victim is Kevin Ramsay, a failed criminal and sometime police informant who’s been brutally run over several times. The rumour is that he’d come across some big information but Mahler can’t believe that he’d know something bad enough to get him killed. The second victim is daytime TV queen, Morven Murray, who’s found butchered in her hotel room on the morning of her wedding by her fiancée, ex-footballer Ross Campbell and her younger sister, Anna (a university history lecturer), who Mahler finds himself drawn to, even though it’s clear she’s hiding something.

With resources stretched and the media circling, Mahler is under pressure to get a result on the Murray case or his career in Inverness won’t be progressing much further …

Margaret Kirk’s debut crime novel (the first in a series) is an okay if generic story with a loner police officer troubled by family and personal demons that’s let down by an antagonist who I guessed after their first appearance and by the fact that one of the murders goes unsolved in an obvious (and irritating) set-up for the sequel.

DI Mahler is a well drawn character albeit in the brooding loner mode that seems to be mandatory in the genre. I was interested in his relationship with his traumatised mother more than in the hinted at attraction with Anna (who is defined mostly by her fragile relationship with her domineering sister and under drawn parents) and although he doesn’t have the page time with DS Gilchrist, her professional antagonism has the potential to lend some grit to future novels.

In terms of the investigations though, the plot is unfortunately skewered towards the Murray murder and I found that very annoying – especially as the blurb on the back suggests the two cases are linked. I also found the antagonist ridiculously easy to guess and their motivation is sign posted far too early – mainly because Kirk simply doesn’t take time to set up a credible mix of suspects. The ending of the book suggests that the Ramsay case will become more important in the sequel but to be honest, I’m not sure that there’s enough here that’s fresh and different enough to make me want to read it.

SHADOWMAN will be released in the United Kingdom on 2nd November 2017. Thanks to the Amazon Vine Programme for the ARC of this book.

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