Val McDermid makes a departure from her other long-running series in this novel – which is set in …1979!
Very likely the beginning of a new series – this book is set in Glasgow, and stars young reporter, Allie Burns. Like McDermid herself was in the late seventies, Burns is starting out her career as a reporter on a metro daily newspaper. Fighting against notions that female reporters should cover fluffy, lifestyle stories, Burns does her best to break into investigative journalism. Working with Danny Sullivan, the two collaborate on stories involving corruption, murder and the secretive security services.
What makes this a cut above other crime series is the specificity of the setting. In this era, this gritty Scottish city is rife with sexism and homophobia – both of which have a direct impact on Burns and Sullivan.
And like Ireland, Scotland had a nationalist movement that, in the seventies and eighties, was evolving into a more activist and popular movement.
McDermid writes with authenticity about this time and place – you can tell she hasn’t just done research and layered on details. She has written characters who speak and act based on assumed knowledge, beliefs and their behavior is predicated on the lack of digital technology. How fun is that?! People making calls on landlines and typing on typewriters – in a non-ironic way!