Review published on June 22, 2017.
This is the first novel about Leo Moran, a very complex investigator in the style of Sherlock Holmes, Morse and Hercule Poirot, whose personal style and approach give such a flavour to the crimes he gets involved in.
He is a ‘young fogey’ with a taste for expensive clothes, gourmet food, cigars and wine – and whisky too, lots of it.
A Roman Catholic of Irish extraction, Leo lives in Glasgow and there is a backstory that is gradually but not completely revealed.
The visions he has while he sleeps compel him to look into untoward happenings, in this case the murder of a young district nurse.
The action of most of the book takes place in the Highlands, which are lovingly evoked and described in detail, as is Glasgow in all its city modernity.
There are several red herrings and many colourful characters in the small village where Helen’s body is found – the lady of the manor and her mute servant, a sculptor, pub landlords, folk from the village , the lowly and the ‘posh’ – and a believable plot and ending.
Leo for me is a bit too quirky to be truly believable and his ability to see the ghost of the victim seems very unlikely, but very lucky for the story to move on.
The ‘tartan noir’ genre is very full, with great novelists such as Ian Rankin, Val McDermid, James Oswald and Quintin Jardine all being very successful with a wide fan base. Hopefully, Charles McGarry will join them, but not yet, I feel.
What he does have is a great gift for the description of people and scenery and an excellent grasp of Scottish dialect and idiom, which is usually a bit clunky to read.
I hope the book and series will do well. Charles McGarry has talent and a great ear, but perhaps he could tone Leo down a bit before he gets too annoying!
Dorothy Anderson 3/3
The Ghost of Helen Addison by Charles E. McGarry
Polygon 9781846973796 pbk Jul 2017
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