Mark Hamilton, his wife Jennifer and year old daughter Lily are having a day out at the seaside in Ayr, which is about an hour from Glasgow. Just before they are due to go home, Jennifer decides to take one last swim. Mark notices after a short while that his wife is in trouble and has been caught by a dangerous current. He straps his little daughter into her stroller and dives in to save his wife. When he returns to shore, just minutes later, baby Lily and her stroller are gone…Private detective Charlie Cameron comes from a wealthy family. He is not rich, partly due to the fact that he and his father do not get along. They have been estranged for years. When approached by Mark Hamilton to take the case, Charlie has grave reservations. A childhood trauma, from which he has never recovered, is too near the surface with this case. His own sister was abducted from a beach when he was only five years old. Despite his own conscience warning him off, as well as the warnings of his friends, he reluctantly agrees to take Mark’s case.
Later, Charlie is also given the task of finding a university student who never returned home after a night out.Meanwhile, Police Scotland is feverishly working “Operation Damocles” – a case in which a man has been snatching young children daringly – while their parents are only yards away…
This is my first time reading the work of Owen Mullen. My first impressions of his writing was that it reminded me of the ‘hard-boiled’ type stories of Raymond Chandler and the like. However, the tone smoothed out as the book progressed. Told from an un-apologetically male viewpoint, I quite liked Charlie Cameron as a character.
The story was set in late autumn/early winter in Glasgow Scotland. The grey, dour weather added greatly to the overall noir feel of the narrative.
Charlie Cameron is a private investigator who specializes in finding missing persons. His specialty was shaped by the fact that his own sister has been missing for thirty years.
One main setting of the novel was a Glasgow restaurant/night club called New York Blue. Charlie has an office upstairs from the New York Blue, and his closest friends and acquaintances either work there, or frequent the place regularly as customers.
At thirty-five years old, Charlie is a loner, yet he does have some close friends. DCI Andrew Geddes from Police Scotland; Patrick Logue, a personable and often inebriated charmer who does investigative work for Charlie on a semi-regular basis, and last but not least, a ninety-year old retired policeman named DI Ronnie Simpson who worked Charlie’s sister’s case all those years ago.
As a sideline to the crime story, Charlie meets a woman who could quite be the love of his life. She is Kate Calder, a talented singer who fronts a band which plays regularly at the club.
The story had several strands which were adeptly tied up by the end of the book. I was completely taken in by one of the author’s particularly clever ‘red herrings’.
The title was very fitting. The story described the myriad ways in which people ‘play games’ to further their own agendas.
The ending of the book tied up most of the loose ends, leaving just enough to pave the way for the second book in the series (which is already loaded on my Kindle).
Recommended to lovers of well-executed crime fiction, especially those who favour Scottish noir.This review was written voluntarily and my rating was in no way influenced by the fact that I received a complimentary digital copy of this novel from Boldwood Books via NetGalley and Rachel’s Random Resources, in order that I could participate in this blog tour. ISBN: 9781801620482 – ASIN: B08TBGL1HS – 336 pages
Owen Mullen graduated from Strathclyde University, moved to London and worked as a rock musician, session singer and songwriter, and had a hit record in Japan with a band he refuses to name; he still loves to perform on occasion. His passion for travel has taken him on many adventures from the Amazon and Africa to the colourful continent of India and Nepal. A gregarious recluse, he and his wife, Christine, split their time between Glasgow, and their home in the Greek Islands where In Harm’s Way and the Charlie Cameron and Delaney series’ were created and written.