After a fierce storm hits Scotland, a mysterious cargo ship is swept ashore in the Orkney Isles. Boarding the vessel uncovers three bodies, recently deceased and in violent circumstances. Forensic scientist Dr Rhona MacLeod’s study of the crime scene suggests that a sinister game was being played on board, but who were the hunters? And who the hunted?
Meanwhile in Glasgow DS Michael McNab is called to a horrific incident where a young woman has been set on fire. Or did she spark the flames herself?
As evidence arises that connects the two cases, the team grow increasingly concerned that the truth of what happened on the ship and in Glasgow hints at a wider conspiracy that stretches down to London and beyond to a global stage. Orcadian Ava Clouston, renowned investigative journalist believes so, and sets out to prove it, putting herself in grave danger.
When the Met Police challenge Police Scotland’s jurisdiction, it becomes obvious that there are ruthless individuals who are willing to do whatever it takes to protect government interests. Which could lead to even more deaths on Scottish soil . . .
Long-time followers of The Shelf will know that I enjoy a good police procedural, especially if there’s an element of forensic mystery. So quite how I’ve managed to miss Lin Anderson’s Rhona MacLeod series is beyond me!
The Killing Tide is the sixteenth outing for Glasgow-based forensic scientist Rhona MacLeod and sees her called to a possible incident of self-immolation in a Glasgow tenement, followed swiftly by a trip to Orkney to identify three bodies washed up on a seemingly deserted former cargo ship. At first glance the two cases could not be more different but, as Rhona and her colleague DS Michael McNab investigate, it becomes apparent that a shadowy company, operating on the Dark Web and providing a deadly playground for the rich and powerful, may connect the deaths.
As Orcadian investigative journalist Ava Clouston begins investigating the shadowy organisation, and evidence in the police investigation grows, it becomes clear that these four deaths may hint at a wider conspiracy – one that spreads to London, and the global stage beyond. And when the Met Police send up a detective to challenge Police Scotland’s jurisdiction on the case, Rhona, DS McNab and Ava begin to question if the conspiracy could lead into the corridors of power justice itself. One thing is certain – there are ruthless individuals who will stop at nothing to conceal their secrets. And that will lead Rhona and her colleagues into terrible danger – and to even more deaths on Scottish soil.
Jumping into an established series at the sixteenth book is always a slightly nerve-wracking experience but The Killing Tide works perfectly well as a standalone. Whilst there are plenty of references to the established relationships between characters who are clearly series regulars – and to some of the previous cases they’ve worked on together – these are made clear for new readers in a way that neither spoils previous books nor bores existing fans with unnecessary exposition.
The plot rattles along – aided by short, sharp chapters that switch between multiple perspectives and often end on tantalising cliff-hangers that leave you racing to find out what happens next! Combined with the multi-stranded investigations across Orkney, Glasgow and London, this made The Killing Tide a compelling and compulsive read that takes in illegal fight clubs, people trafficking, undercover police operations, and corruption before its end – and that will put more than one of our protagonists in life-threatening circumstances.
As such, trigger warnings for several graphic scenes of physical violence, plenty of choice language, detailed descriptions of crime scenes, references to sexual violence, and drug abuse. Although never gratuitous, Lin Anderson does not shy away from depicting the darker and more dangerous side of police investigations – and DS McNab is a detective who doesn’t always play entirely by the rules!
That said, I really did like the main characters in The Killing Tide. DS McNab might be no angel but despite making some questionable choices (primarily in his personal life), he is definitely one of the good guys – and puts his heart and soul into getting the job done and bringing the perpetrators of these dreadful crimes to justice. Rhona MacLeod is smart and intelligent – both academically and emotionally – and her chatty and flamboyant assistant Chrissy makes for a perfect pairing! Investigative journalist Ava also makes for an interesting viewpoint character, being torn between her undoubtedly dangerous – but rewarding – career and her young brother’s wish for her to come home to Orkney and help him keep control over the family farm following the tragic deaths of their parents. Lin Anderson does a fantastic job of balancing such personal struggles with the investigation of the ongoing cases and, by the end of the book, I was keen to spend more time with these characters – and to go back and discover what I’d missed in earlier books!
Fans of the Rhona MacLeod series will probably be well aware of Anderson’s ability to combine a gripping narrative with some wonderfully evocative and atmospheric writing – and are unlikely to be disappointed by The Killing Tide. For readers new to the series, The Killing Tide offers a perfect place to jump into a satisfying slice of some of the best modern ‘tartan noir’ that I’ve read. The Killing Tide may be the first Rhona MacLeod thriller I’ve had the pleasure of reading – but it certainly won’t be my last!
If you can, please support a local indie bookshop by ordering from them either in person or online! Some of my favourites include Booka Bookshop, The Big Green Bookshop, Sam Read Booksellers, Book-ish, Scarthin Books, and Berts Books.
My thanks go to the publisher for providing a copy of the book in return for an honest and unbiased review and to Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for organising and inviting me onto this blog tour. The tour continues until 18 August 2021 so do check out the other stops for more reviews and content.
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