All Or Nothing by John Carson

All Or Nothing by John Carson
Publisher: Vellum
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Fern

Practice makes perfect. Even in death.

DCI Harry McNeil is back at the helm, joined by his old friend, DI Frank Miller. He is juggling his private life with being a single father, running a new Major Investigation Team, and spending time with a woman who may or may not become more than just friends.

Edinburgh at New Year is a time for celebration, fun, and for one person, murder.

The festivities leading up to Hogmanay are tinged with fear as Harry’s team gets a shout when the murdered body of a woman is found floating in the Water of Leith near the docks.

A vicious killer has left his mark and Harry’s new team is put to the test.

But with time running out, the killer is going to be knocking on Harry McNeil’s door, in more ways than one…

It’s Christmas and DCI Harry McNeil is spending the festive season with his infant daughter, Grace, and his new “slightly more than a friend” female companion, Morgan. Just as Harry decides to go with the flow and welcome Morgan more firmly into his life, work intrudes with a particularly vicious killing that falls into the hands of his team. Can Harry juggle his many responsibilities in amongst all the craziness of the Christmas season?

This is quite a thicker book than many of the preceding Harry McNeil mysteries and I was really excited to find there were a number of solid plotlines all woven very well together. Add in Harry appears to be moving forward in his private life as well and there is quite a bit going on in this Scottish police procedural mystery/suspense novel.

Speaking personally, I do feel it’s a little too soon for Harry to be getting entangled in another woman and what appears will become yet another serious relationship for him. It’s only been about seven months since the very surprising death of his wife and ex-working-partner, Alex, and with a fairly small baby daughter (also only seven months old) and two other previously serious romantic relationships behind him a part of me strongly thought this would be a good time for Harry to focus on Grace, his work and getting the non-romantic aspects of his life on solid ground. So I found it hard to get on board with the blossoming relationship with the psychiatrist and felt this aspect to Harry’s life was a little shoe-horned into the story. I especially thought this considering his sister-in-law is living in his house as a mostly full-time career for baby Grace while Harry is off solving crimes at work. It all just didn’t really come together for me, and I didn’t feel a good connection to Morgan’s character, either.

That said – I was really impressed with the multi-layered nature of the murder mystery side of the plot. There is what appears to be an accidental death of a hiker falling off a bridge in Glasgow and body of a murdered woman floating near the docks in Edinburgh – so Harry and his team more than have their hands full as they try to uncover what’s going on and what plans the vicious killer has. I found this aspect of the two plotlines and how the Glasgow and Edinburgh teams worked solidly together was exceptionally well written and had the comfortable, familiar banter that I’ve come to expect from a Harry McNeil book. All the regular characters that a reader wants from the previous novels are present and while the banter and interactions might seem a bit much for readers who are newer to the series, I personally loved it.

Readers looking for a rambunctious romp of a Scottish police procedural mystery should find this a really good read and I thought this was a great addition to the series. Thoroughly enjoyable.

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