Review of Dark Flight, a novel by Lin Anderson.
The book I am reviewing is a paperback Crime/Thriller novel, ISBN 978-0340922415, 400 pages, cover price £6.99. The novel was published by Hodder Books in 2007 hardback and in May 2008, in the paperback format.
Dark Flight is the fourth in a series of crime novels featuring Scots forensic scientist, Rhona MacLeod. The other books in the series are Driftnet, Torch, Deadly Code, Easy Kill, Final Cut and The Reborn. I have read the second in the series, Torch, however any of the Rhona MacLeod books can be read as a stand alone novel.
Set in Glasgow, over a seven day period, Dark Flight initially follows the investigation of the hunt for the murderer of two women. The victims are an elderly lady, 78 year old Enid Cavanagh and and her daughter, Carole Devlin. The bodies have been discovered in the home of the older woman. The double murder is a particularly horrible one, Mrs Cavanagh has been killed as she sat in her armchair, it would appear that she has been hit about the head from behind. The murderer had then urinated over the dead woman.
The second body was in the kitchen. The younger woman was found lying in a pool of her own blood, her body arranged in a cross shape. The murderer had mutilated Carole's body, a cross had been carved into her chest and she had been raped. The murderer had then further mutilated her by performing a female circumcision on her body.
Rhona MacLeod and her team are brought in to investigate and on examining the crime scene, a child's footprint is discovered in the blood on the kitchen floor. Rhona also finds an chillingly unpleasant African talisman made from bones, which turn out to be those of a child, in the garden of the murdered woman's home.
When enquiries are made, Rhona finds that Carole has recently returned to Scotland after a period of living in Africa. It transpires that Carole has a young son, Stephen, who has now vanished. The investigation takes a different turn as Police realise that they are also hunting for a missing child. The search becomes even more urgent when the mutilated torso of an unidentified little boy is pulled from the river. The similarities to the real case of a child's torso discovered in the River Thames some years ago are noted and Rhona's team realise that the murders are of a ritualistic nature and the investigation requires specialist knowledge and back up.
I have no wish to spoil the novel for future readers by divulging whether Stephen is located, the identities of the dead child, the killer and the reasons for the dreadful murders, so if your curiosity has been roused, you'll have to read the book for yourself!
*****Availability and Cost*****
My copy bears the cover price of £6.99, but was purchased in Asda for the knock-down price of £2. The novel is available from various sources, a quick web search brought up the following online stockist information:-
www.amazon.co.uk £5.48 new or from 0.01p plus P&P used.
www.ebay.co.uk Auctions from £0.25 plus P&P, used
*****About the Author*****
Lin Anderson was born in Greenock of Scottish and Irish parents.
Her father was a Detective Inspector in the CID in Greenock, she admits that she has based Rhona MacLeod's colleague and mentor, DI Bill Wilson, on her father.
Lin Anderson has lived in various parts of Scotland and writes about Scotland with a remarkable knowledge and insight into the Scots psyche. She is a graduate of Glasgow, Edinburgh and Napier Universities and before taking up her writing career in the 1990's, was a teacher of computing.
Lin Anderson has spent some 5 years living and working in Nigeria.
More information about the author can be found on her web site:-
This website was also my source for information about Lin Anderson.
Praise for Lin Anderson's work.....
" A sexy new rival for old Rebus ..." -- Stuart MacBride, author of Cold Granite
"'Lin Anderson is one of Scotland's national treasures - don't be fooled by comparisons, her writing is unique, bringing warmth and depth to even the seediest parts of Glasgow. " -- The Scotsman 2005"
*****My Thoughts and Conclusion*****
Dark Flight is not a book for the faint hearted. The subject matter is gruesome, it is unpleasant in parts and violent. Whilst the violence is not gratuitous, this is nevertheless a novel about murder, so naturally violence is an essential element of the plot.
Lin Anderson writes in a remarkably tidy fashion. The plot is very well thought out and is structured to keep the reader guessing and of course, interested. The plot may cover a mere 7 days, but it twists and turns giving some surprising outcomes.
Characters are very well drawn and believable. The central character, Rhona, is a sharp, yet compassionate woman, totally professional and a woman who has had a struggle to gain the acceptance and respect of her colleagues in a male dominated profession. She comes across as a tough cookie with a strong personality, who sometimes allows her work to overtake her private life. She is a complex character with a streak of individuality which sometimes irritates her colleagues.
Rhona's private life is messy, she has a son, Liam, who she gave up for adoption at birth due to her very young age and situation. She is in contact with her son although he is in Nigeria teaching English during his gap year. She also has a boyfriend, Sean, who has been called to Ireland to support his family during a crisis. Rhona is alone during the difficult investigation and her vulnerability shows through at times. I felt this helped to make the character all the more likeable and believable.
I felt that the author had conducted very thorough research into both forensic science and African religions in order to produce this novel. The methods employed in the use of forensic science are well explained as the plot progresses and although the novel is not overly burdened with things of a scientific nature, there is enough to make the plot realistic.
I cannot really say I enjoyed the novel, the subject matter is not what one could call enjoyable, however I did find the book absorbing, memorable and one that I will definitely re-read.
If you like the crime/mystery genre, give Dark Flight a try, it made an impression on me and I would recommend it to others.....even if graphic descriptions of female circumcision meant I read it with my legs firmly crossed!
Thank you for reading.
©brittle1906 August 2010
N.B. My review may be found on other sites under the same user name.