BOOK REVIEW: 'When the Devil Drives': Second Entry in Jasmine Sharp/Catherine McLeod Series Is an Outstanding Literary Thriller

Reviewed by David M. Kinchen
BOOK REVIEW: 'When the Devil Drives': Second Entry in Jasmine Sharp/Catherine McLeod Series Is an Outstanding Literary Thriller

Christopher Brookmyre follows up his 2012 thriller "Where the Bodies Are Buried" -- which introduced readers to young actress turned private investigator Jasmine Sharp and experienced mother-of-two Glasgow Detective Superintendent Catherine McLeod with "When the Devil Drives" (Atlantic Monthly Press, 361 pages, $24.00). The novel came out in May 2013 -- I apologize for the late review, but 2013 was a hectic year for this reviewer -- and will be issued in a trade paperback edition on May 13, 2014. I've found that plenty of copies of the hardback edition are available at the usual online sites, Amazon.com, Abebooks, etc. and that eBook editions are also available.

Jasmine Sharp, a twenty-something aspiring actress in Glasgow, Scotland, becomes a private investigator when she inherits her uncle's detective agency, Sharp Investigations. She does contract work for a larger agency, Galt Linklater,  but her primary activity involves missing persons. 

So she wasn't surprised when a woman named Alice Petrie arrives at her office wanting her to find her younger sister, actress Tessa Garrion, whom she last saw at their mother's funeral in February 1981.

What starts out as a routine search soon becomes far more complicated -- and dangerous -- when her search for Tessa converges on a murder investigation led by Catherine McLeod.

DS McLeod is called to the scene of what appears to be the murder of Hamish Queen in the Highlands. Queen, a prominent figure in the Scottish arts community, is shot in the head during a post-performance photo call after an outdoor performance of Shakespeare's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" at Craguthes Castle.

Despite having an experienced team and plenty of cops, the case quickly hits a wall: Nobody can determine a motive for killing Queen. Was it a murder or an accidental high-powered shot in the dark from a poacher in the estate's deer park?

Meanwhile, Jasmine Sharp's search for Tessa Garrion becomes complicated when she learns that Tessa was involved with Hamish and others in a theatrical endeavor that included drugs and occult rituals in a Highlands estate. As if this isn't enough, a mysterious man named Fallon turns up, causing initial discomfort to Jasmine. Is he her long-lost father -- or the man who killed her father? In any event, he proves to be a welcome addition to her ad hoc team, which also includes ex-cops protective of the young investigator.

As Jasmine’s and McLeod’s investigations converge and intertwine, it becomes clear that both cases are far more convoluted and dangerous than anyone anticipated.

If you're suffering from Stieg Larsson ("The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo") withdrawal, you'll find that Brookmyre delivers in Scotland at least as well as Larsson did in Sweden.

 

About the Author

Christopher Brookmyre has established himself as one of Britain's leading crime novelists since his award-winning debut novel Quite Ugly One Morning. He has worked as a journalist for several British newspapers and is the author of twelve novels, including Where the Bodies Are Buried, One Fine Day in The Middle of the Night, and Not The End of The World. His website: www.brookmyre.co.uk

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