Hand for a Hand (Di Gilchrist)
by Frank Muir
Cover Artist: Photo: Bill McKenzie / BMPhoto
Review by Mel Jacob
Soho Crime Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9781616951818
Date: 13 November 2012 List Price $25.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Frank Muir's Hand for a Hand offers gritty police procedural featuring Fife Detective Inspector Gilchrist. A golfer playing St. Andrews course finds a woman's hand with a note. It is addressed to Gilchrist with one word: Murder. Other body parts follow with other messages. Gilchrist suspects, and later confirms, the body parts belong to his son's missing girlfriend, Chloe. He fears someone from his past intends to murder those close to him or his family, but has no idea who the killer is or why he commits the violent acts.
A check of the recently released criminals from his cases provides no leads. Next an arm is found also on the grounds of St. Andrews. The shape of the hand and traces of yellow paint under the fingernails reminds Gilchrist of Chloe. When he learns she is missing, he grows certain she is the victim. More body parts are found and more clues gathered, but nothing leads to any suspect.
Gilchrist has a history of troubled relationships. He caught his under-age teen daughter having sex with a fellow police officer more than ten years her senior and beat up the man. He also arranged to have him transferred to another district. His daughter is furious.
His wife leaves him for another man and takes the children, his son Jack and daughter Maureen, to Glasgow. Relationships between Gilchrist and his family have become distant and uneasy. Jack, a sculptor, is on the dole and into drugs. Gilchrist has no idea what Maureen is doing. They talk only by phone. His ex-wife is dying of cancer. Only Gilchrist’s job keeps him going.
Complicating the case, is the forced assignment of Watts, the police officer who deflowered Gilchrist’s daughter. He now works with one or more drug enforcement agencies and is partnered with Gilchrist on Chloe's murder.
Muir joins the growing ranks of Scottish crime writers. He doesn't flinch at violence or gore. His villains are violent, cold-blooded killers who show no mercy to anyone, even those who work for them. He's also good at writing cliff hanger scene. True to the genre, he supplies an edge-of- the-seat climax. This is not a mystery for cozy lovers. Hand for a Hand is the first of Muir’s new DCI Gilchrist series.