A teacher ploughs a minibus into a group of pupils…
It’s as though Salford is under a permanent full moon, not helped by the fact DS Kevin Coupland is fighting to hold onto his career.
Following an allegation that he was behind a prisoner’s murder in HMP Manchester, Coupland enlists the help of the one man everyone is certain has set him up – Kieran Tunney, a notorious crime boss already under investigation by the murder squad.
When Coupland reviews several cases his team have handled in his absence he suspects they are linked, in a way he cannot believe is possible. If his suspicions are correct then he must act fast to stop the unthinkable from happening – even if that means putting himself in the firing line.
Sticks and Stones is the sixth book in the popular DS Coupland series.
Andrew James Greig was Born in London and moved to the historic Monmouth as a young teenager but escaped as soon as he could to the bright lights of Bristol where he combined the careers of sober aerospace engineering and libertine sound engineering for as long as he could juggle these disparate and separate worlds. Now living happily in central Scotland, where he enjoys writing books, playing music and exploring the great outdoors with his best friend who is also happily his wife.
Just outside a sleepy Highland town, a gamekeeper is found hanging lifeless from a tree. The local police investigate an apparent suicide, only to find he’s been snared as efficiently as the rabbit suspended beside him. As the body count rises, the desperate hunt is on to find the murderer before any more people die. But the town doesn’t give up its secrets easily, and who makes the intricate clockwork mechanisms carved from bone and wood found at each crime?
Whirligig is a tartan noir like no other; an exposé of the corruption pervading a small Highland community and the damage this inflicts on society’s most vulnerable. What happens when those placed in positions of trust look the other way; when those charged with our protection are inadequate to the challenge; when the only justice is that served by those who have been sinned against?
This debut crime novel introduces DI James Corstophine – a man still grieving for a wife lost to cancer; his small close-knit team of passed-over police and their quiet Highland town. He’s up against a killer who plays him as easily as a child. For a man whose been treading water since the death of his wife, he’s facing a metaphorical flood of biblical proportions as he struggles to understand why these murders are happening, and who is behind each carefully planned execution. All the time, the clock is ticking.Excerpt from Whirligig
The front door slammed with such violence that the whole house shook, quivering timbers seeking comfort in the cold embrace of stone. Margo tensed in her bed, feeling the floor shake in sympathy. Nervously, she lay waiting for the angry wasp sound of his quad as it disappeared down the lonely track that led away from the isolated cottage. Only when the engine noise had faded did she allow herself to finally relax. He’d be gone all day, setting traps for the rabbits, laying poison for the birds of prey, shooting the mountain hares. Death. Death and violence were all she ever associated him with now.Her hand tentatively reached out from under the covers and felt her face, flinching as her fingers encountered the bruise around her eye. It wasn’t too bad. She had become a connoisseur of bruises, burns, broken bones. All of them her own. She could tell without looking that her eye would be swollen, the redness around the socket already turning to purple and black as ruptured blood vessels had spilt their red cargo overnight. She mentally ran through the foundation she’d apply, the beauty products she’d accumulated that artfully concealed the worst of the damage. Now that he was gone the nervousness left her like a shed skin, a protective coat that was no longer needed. A butterfly flickered in her womb and the nervousness returned – but this time it was a visceral feeling, this time the nervousness was for a life other than her own.Margo had hoped, in the way that so many women do, that the announcement she was bringing his baby into the world would change him. Turn him from a sadistic bully into the man she’d always wanted him to be: tender, loyal, loving. Loving. The word hung in her mind like some impossible concept, a young girl’s dream of how her life should have been before it had turned into a living nightmare. Instead, the announcement had only made him worse and whatever demons drove him had been merciless in their response, leaving her concussed and broken on the cold stone kitchen floor. Her first thought had been for the baby, barely more than two months old. The second missed period had confirmed the truth of it to her and the doctor had made it official. She remembered the doctor’s troubled eyes, they had shown concern, worry. “Is there anything you’d like to ask me, anything worrying you?”Margo had attempted gaiety when she’d responded in the negative, and knew she’d failed when the doctor had lowered her voice to a conspiratorial tone. “You know we’re here to help. With anything, anything at all.” She’d almost run from the surgery, afraid that everyone could see through the artfully applied make-up and see the battered woman underneath.It was their pity she desperately wanted to avoid. Their pity and judgement delivered with all too knowing eyes. The gamekeeper’s cottage at least offered her the privacy to keep herself to herself, hide herself away, hide secrets that should never be allowed to escape. She swung her legs out over the side of the bed, a sharp intake of breath as a healing rib complained, then to the bathroom to wash and repair what damage she could. Her face stared back at her, expressionless, beaten in spirit as well as in flesh. Margo waited in vain for the tears to flow. They never did these days. She told herself that she was out of tears, but she knew the truth of it. Tears were for those who still had hope, who still gave a fuck, if only about themselves. She glanced down at her belly, too early for any tell-tale bulge to show but she felt different, her breasts felt different. She felt as if she was about to come into flower for the first time in her life and that frightened her more than he did
Claire MacLeary lived for many years in Aberdeen and St Andrews, but describes herself as “a feisty Glaswegian with a full life to draw on”. Following a career in business, she gained an MLitt with Distinction from the University of Dundee and her short stories have been published in various magazines and anthologies. She has appeared at Granite Noir, Noir at the Bar and other literary events. Claire’s debut novel, Cross Purpose, was longlisted for the prestigious McIlvanney Prize, Scottish Crime Book of the Year Award 2017, and Burnout was longlisted for the Hearst Big Book Award 2018. Runaway is her third novel and continues the Harcus & Laird series.
The idea for my Harcus and Laird series germinated at Dundee Uni, where I embarked on a MLitt in Creative Writing after my two children left home. Anxious to do well, I presented, as part of my first writing folio, the opening scene of a crime novel. My professor, acclaimed New Zealand author #Kirsty Gunn, was not taken by my flight into genre fiction. But it got me thinking. And reading. The more crime I read, the more it seemed the main characters fell into two main categories: seasoned detectives or highly qualified forensic scientists.
What if, I deliberated, somebody were to write a crime novel in which the protagonist/s had no qualifications in anything? Wouldn’t that be different? And so Maggie and Wilma were born. Suburban housewives and mothers, Maggie straight-as-a-die, Wilma a bit dodgy, the pair a testament to the strength of female friendship. Together they face up to major social issues – drug and alcohol dependency, money-laundering, people trafficking – leavening the grittier aspects with a generous dose of North-east humour.
When police are called to a murder scene at the home of Aberdeen socialite Annabel Imray, they find themselves under pressure to get a conviction, and fast. Meanwhile, local PIs Wilma Harcus and Maggie Laird are at rock bottom, desperate for income. As Maggie contemplates replacing Wilma with an unpaid intern, an eccentric widow appoints them to search for her lost cat – and Wilma goes off-piste to negotiate a loan, with terrifying terms. As the fear caused by a series of sinister break-ins escalates, Maggie blames the aggressive language in public discourse for inciting violent crime. But before long, she finds she is in the danger zone herself.
Will Wilma manage to save her?
Excerpt From Chapter Babies and Beasties
‘Still line-dancing?’ she addressed the petite mortuary assistant, who was bent to the task of weighing one of the internal organs, before listing the information on a wall-mounted whiteboard.
She’d already have opened the body, removed the chest bones and pulled out the organs from tongue to bladder.
‘Too right.’ A head came up, wisps of blonde hair escaping from under a protective cap. ‘Fair gets rid of the cobwebs.’
Susan recalled her first visit to the police mortuary, when junior anatomical pathology technician Tracey had given her the tour: the cutting room, with its stark grey walls, the two stainless-steel tables in the centre, the extractor fans labouring overhead. The pervasive odour of formaldehyde and bleach had choked Susan of breath. And that’s before she caught sight of the instruments: drills and saws and scalpels and pliers. She’d been chilled – liter- ally – in the temperature-controlled space. Shivering in her white Tyvek bunny suit. And not a little afraid.
‘What’s the worst thing you’ve had to deal with?’ she’d asked the young blonde assistant, then.
‘Babies and beasties,’ Tracey had replied without a moment’s hesitation.