DCI Jack Russell – a policeman working the final case of a long career. He is due to retire soon. He is somewhat estranged from his wife as they could never really communicate after they both suffered a profound loss.
DC Colin Clements – an abrasive, power hungry policeman who is chomping at the bit to get DCI Russell’s position when he retires. He feels bitter and under-appreciated. He knows he doesn’t have the skills that Jack Russell has, and he is riddled with jealousy.
The CASE – a young couple, Alistair and Carol, have disappeared during a violent freak thunderstorm. They were going to visit Alistair’s mother who lives in Hobbs Brae.
The SUSPECTS – a taciturn farmer who loves his drink, Jerome Jennings lives with his teenage son Scott. Widowed Jerome is very hard on his son and he vents his loneliness and frustrations out on Scott.
Matthew White aka Jason Black – was a childhood friend of Alistair and is the former boyfriend of Carol Baker.
Meanwhile, Alistair’s mother Alice, a retired village schoolteacher, has dementia and increasingly frequent blackouts. She is vulnerable and fearful. Her husband William disappeared many years ago and was never found. Now her son is missing.
The setting is what first captured my attention for this novel. Northwest Scotland at its most foreboding, during a freak storm in September. The descriptions in this novel were very vivid. The storm, the farm, the woods, the crows…
The policeman, Jack Russell has an interesting backstory and a somewhat jaded view of his world. He was portrayed realistically and I wanted to really like him, but somehow I just couldn’t.
I thoroughly enjoyed the scenes on the Jennings’s farm. The father and son were portrayed clearly and with understanding.
Alistair’s mother Alice was an empathetic character and the prose gave heft to her alarming plight.
The plot was a conundrum. A missing persons case initially, it turned into something more. The reveal of the criminal surprised me, as I’m sure it was meant to do. Yet somehow I felt manipulated and dare I say… used.
I have to say… the next time I see a scarecrow in a field, I’ll look twice.
I’m really of mixed feelings about this one. Yes, I did enjoy the read, Yes, it was memorable. Yet still, I have a few reservations. It was a powerful novel and worthy of your consideration.
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 Unbound Digital via NetGalley.
Ian Skewis writes crime thrillers, science fiction, horror and literary fiction. He also works as a freelance editor and proof reader.
He was born in Scotland in 1970. At the age of 19 he wrote articles for a local paper and had his first poems published before going on to train at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland. He became an actor, appearing on film and television, and providing his voice for radio.
Follow Ian Skewis on Twitter @IanSkewis