Thursday, 14 June 2012

TRUTH LIES BLEEDING by Tony Black - a review

Tony Black sits among the current crop of Scottish crime writers gracing the UK crime scene -  Ray Banks, Kate Atkinson, Allan Guthrie, Stuart McBride, Val McDermid, Ian Rankin - the list is endless.  Must be something to do with the cold up there.

In Truth Lies Bleeding, Black shifts the point of view of his previous books from the PI novel to the Police Procedural.  And in steps D.I. Rob Brennan . . .


Four teenagers find the mutilated body of a young girl crammed into a dumpster in an Edinburgh alleyway. Who is she? Where has she come from? Who has killed her - and why?

Inspector Rob Brennan, recently back from psychiatric leave, is still shocked by the senseless shooting of his only brother. The case of the dumpster girl looks perfect for getting him back on track. But Rob Brennan has enemies within the force, stacks of unfinished business, and a nose for trouble.

What he discovers about the murdered girl blows the case - and his life - wide open.

I'd have to say I haven't read a huge amount of Police Procedurals in my time.  Those I have read, I've mostly enjoyed, but my reading tends to veer more towards the noir end of the crime/noir spectrum - tales from the wrong side of the tracks, as it were.  So, opening up TRUTH LIES BLEEDING, I wasn't entirely sure what to expect.  What I got, within the first three pages, were three young girls finding the dismembered body of another young girl in a dustbin. 

 A bowl of cherries, this would not be. Just how I like it.

We are soon introduced to DI Brennan - a bristling cantankerous man, intent on getting his own way on all fronts.  He's suspicious of everyone, and rightly so when we learn what drives him. Back from psychiatric leave, treated with varying degrees of disdain, ridicule, kindness, and contempt, by his colleagues, he now has a female boss to contend with as well.  

The relationship between DI Brennan and his female boss - Chief Superintendant Gallagher - is brilliantly portrayed by Black.  The mutual antagonism fair drips off the page.  With Gallagher on his back, watching his every move, Brennan also discovers there is a mole in the team - someone leaking information about the case to the local press.  Brennan, being Brennan, thinks it could be anyone. And Black does a fine job of keeping us so wrapped up in Brennan's paranoia this reader - yes, me, placid as they come, me - felt the need to punch almost everyone in the face Brennan suspects of being the leak.

And then we have the scene where all this takes place - Edinburgh.  Not the Edinburgh of the castle and the palace, the gardens, the parliament, or the festival - no, this is the part of Edinburgh that gets through each day on a diet of drugs and alcohol and shit on the telly.  A place where life is cheap and Jeremy Kyle is king.  And the denziens of this world are superbly drawn by Black.  We feel their brokenness and their pain, their viciousness, and their hate.  

It is to this world Brennan will seek the answers to the horrendous crime of the dismembered girl in the dustbin.

Throw into the mix a missing baby, a psychotic drug dealer, a limping assassin, and a line towards the end of the book that made me stop reading and feel physically sick, and you have a top notch read that'll keep you rivetted to your seat till the very end.

Fantastic stuff.

TRUTH LIES BLEEDING by Tony Black is available in all good bookshops, and in paperback and Kindle versions online:

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