Published: 05 December 2020 05 December 2020

The Innocent Dead by Lin Anderson

The Innocent Dead is number 15 in the Rhona Mcleod books by Lin Anderson. This is one of my favourite crime series as I can just jump right into the story without any scene setting. I know exactly who all these characters are, even if there have been some changes in their lives, and the setting in and around Glasgow is very familiar to me.

When wild swimmers discover a body buried in peat on the edge of a lochan to the south of Glasgow, a forty-five-year-old cold case is re-opened. Eleven-year-old Mary McIntyre disappeared from East Kilbride in 1975, but her body was never found. Fortunately, advances in forensics will give the team more to work with this time.

Told from the points of view of Rhona, DS McNab and Mary’s best friend, Karen, we get a rounded picture of events, but no insight into the mind of the killer. Karen has buried the events surrounding Mary’s disappearance deep in her subconscious, and the facts gradually come to the surface with devastating results.

Stories about the murder of children can be hard to read, but Lin Anderson has written with great care and sensitivity in this case. The flashbacks to the time of Mary’s disappearance evoke Glasgow and the surrounding area in the 1970s really well, especially the housing schemes, and the segregated schools.

Many possibilities are suggested for the identity of the killer, only to be dismissed as a new suspect comes to light. The advances in forensic science make the investigation easier in some ways, but the passing of so many years mean it is more difficult in others.

This series is as much about the characters as it is about the plot. While I’m sure it would be fine as a standalone, it would be a much richer experience to start at the beginning (Driftnet) and understand the backstory of such well-written and believable characters.

Thanks to Macmillan and NetGalley for a digital copy to review.