Oh man…this is a tough one. First let me say I’m a huge fan of this author. HUGE. When I see a new book of his on the horizon, I break out the happy dance. And immediately begin plotting how to make it mine.
I’ve read all the Logan McRae & Ash Henderson books & although this one is tagged as belonging to the former, it heads off in a new direction starring DS Roberta Steel, Logan’s sometime partner & author of his nightmares. She was his boss, then peer but after events of the last book, she’s been busted down to DS & tasked with chasing down pickpockets & wandering pensioners. So it comes as no surprise that Roberta is not happy. And if Roberta’s not happy, no one in Aberdeen is safe.
Except Jack Wallace. He’s the reason she was demoted & ok, maybe she did “find” some evidence in an effort to put him away for the rape/assault of local women. But now he’s free & proclaiming to anyone who’ll listen that he plans to sue Police Scotland. So Roberta is duly warned: do not approach, speak to or even look at Jack Wallace. Apparently she’s supposed to let him live his scumbag, dickhead, perverted, weaselly life unhindered.
Fine. There are other men to use for target practice such as Logan (who she’s not speaking to) & DC “Tufty” Quirrel, her shiny new partner. But then a woman is violently assaulted…..and another. Roberta knows Wallace is responsible but she’s on a short leash where he’s concerned & another screw-up won’t mean further demotion. She’ll lose her career.
So here’s the deal. Like other books this one has the multiple cases & eccentric characters that make the stories so entertaining. Full points for providing a bad guy we desperately want to see get what he karmically deserves. And bonus points for turning a farmer’s demonstration into a literal shit-show.
What I discovered was that, while I’ve enjoyed Roberta in a supporting role, she’s a bit much for me as the MC. She’s an original, you have to give her that. But shadowing her raunchy, potty mouthed, perpetually itchy character 24/7 soon lost its appeal. For me, she’s like cilantro…a little goes a long way.
Also, while there are multiple story lines that unfold & wrap up, the emphasis is on putting Roberta & Tufty in situations that become slapstick routines. Bumping heads, tripping, falling, knocking things over, being sprayed with multiple substances…some of it is genuinely funny but the sheer number of incidents causes the book to quickly devolve into the realm of farce with the Roberta & Tufty Show. Which is ok if you’re a fan of bathroom humour & the Three Stooges. Also, her habit of greeting every woman she meets with comments full of sexual innuendo would surely land her on the #metoo list & makes for uncomfortable reading at times.
It all depends on where you keep your funny bone. Having said all that, I give full props to her & wife Susan for the final scenes. High five, girl. (em…note to any male readers: you may want to down a few beverages before you hit this part. Just sayin’.)
So there you have it. Just one person’s opinion & as always, it’s a matter of personal preference. I’ll continue to wait impatiently for the next book featuring Logan or Ash. As for Roberta, I think it’s best we maintain a long distance relationship.