Devil To Pay by John Carson

Devil To Pay by John Carson
Publisher: Self-published
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller
Rating: 4 stars
Reviewed by Fern

Deadly loose ends. Homicidal obsession. A mind-boggling crime locked behind lost memories.
Scotland. DCI Harry McNeil feels uneasy about visiting his late father’s dementia-afflicted former colleague. But he’s stunned when the retired policeman’s daughter pulls him aside in the nursing home to offer nervous accusations and shocking photographs. And with the images displaying a murder victim from twenty years ago, McNeil fears the senile detective might be the real serial killer long thought dead and buried.

Unable to pry answers out of the confused senior, McNeil is alarmed to discover fresh bodies in both Glasgow and Edinburgh linked to the decades-old case. And with the slayings so intimately connected to him personally, McNeil believes it’s only a matter of time before he’s caught in the crosshairs… and he doesn’t know why.

Will McNeil expose a murderous hidden agenda before it costs him his life?

DCI Harry McNeil is back again when two fresh bodies – one in Glasgow and one in Edinburgh – are clearly linked and have strong ties back to two closed cases from twenty years ago. With his colleagues and Harry’s father’s retired old friend all helping can Harry and Alex discover what’s really going on and how it links to so far back in the past?

I really feel like John Carson is beginning to hit his stride with this series. I felt that the plot was multi-faceted and really well woven together – complicated enough I could get a good sense of what was happening without actually being able to untangle it all too quickly. I also was ecstatic Robbie and Jimmy were back yet again – they’re seriously becoming two of my other favourite characters outside of Harry and Alex. They add a good counterpart to Harry’s more serious outlook and it’s always a hoot when the four of them get together to solve a crime.

In many ways this book was a solid, very well written police procedural style of Scottish mystery, but that would ignore the fact a really strong world has been created in the last six books in this series. Alex and Harry’s relationship has progressed at a solid but steady pace and really laid some strong foundations. Harry in particular has grown as a character and I’m eager to see more of his deepening relationship with the young man his son, Chance, is becoming. And added into all this other solid writing was a complicated and engrossing set of two murders running concurrently yet clearly still tied together. Some of the “whodunit” aspect was shown right up front but the author did an excellent job in my opinion keeping enough of the how and why under wraps to keep me thinking and guessing and eager to turn the pages.

While this book is clearly in the middle of a series, I feel for the murder mystery readers can certainly pick this up as a stand alone. I do feel that all the intertwining character relationships and friendships would be better served with some of the previous stories having been read to give a bit more depth, but this shouldn’t have readers shy away from cracking this book open by itself and giving it a go. I found it well written, well paced and with an excellent mystery and well worth the time and energy in reading it cover to cover. Recommended.

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