Sunday 17 November 2019

Crime caper is between a rock and a hard place

Thriller - Dead Girl Walking, Chris Brookmyre, Little Brown, tpbk, 384 pages, €18.99

Scottish author Chris Brookmyre
Scottish author Chris Brookmyre

Myles McWeeney

Former high-flying Scottish-born investigative journalist Jack Parlabane is as close to rock bottom as he has ever been.

Suspected of hacking a senior politician's laptop, he is a pariah as far as his industry is concerned, is being actively sought by the security forces and is separated from his wife.

So when Mairi Lafferty, the sister of a deceased friend, and manager of rock band on the rise, Savage Earth Heart, and their charismatic lead singer, Heike Gunne, contacts him to offer him a job he jumps at it.

Shetland islander Gunne, enmeshed in a lurid lesbian tabloid scandal, has gone missing. She failed to appear in Berlin, the most recent gig of their European tour, and with a 25-date US tour only weeks away, Mairi is desperate to find her and believes Jack can track her down. Pretending he is preparing a major feature on them, Parlabane meets with the other band members, and swiftly comes to the conclusion that they are all lying.

He is convinced there is something sinister going on, and he finds it disturbing that the band's newest recruit, fiddle player Monica Halcrow, did not make the appointment as scheduled.

Parlabane's questions soon hit a raw nerve, and he and Mairi Lafferty are targeted by some decidedly unfriendly Eastern European thugs as his investigations take them on a helter-skelter race for survival from London to Barcelona, Germany and a deadly denouement on a remote Scottish island.

Dead Girl Walking is Glasgow-based Chris Brookmyre's 18th novel and the sixth to feature Jack Parlabane. It is a cleverly constructed thriller, in which the desperate search for Heike is told from two separate perspectives, that of Parlabane's real-time edge-of-the-seat dangerous mission alternating with the more reflective telling of the story in fiddle player Monica's blog. A refreshingly fast and furious crime caper from an award-winning thriller writer who knows the music business inside out.

Available with free P&P on www.kennys.ie or by calling 091 709350

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