Published: 12/05/2014 10:09 - Updated: 12/05/2014 10:22

REVIEW: The Bird That Did Not Sing by Alex Gray

The Bird That Did Not Sing

Alex Gray

Sphere Books

WITH 11 books under her belt in her Glasgow-set DCI Lorimer series, you can trust Gray to know what she is doing.

So it is with the latest, bringing things bang up to date with a threat to Glasgow’s Commonwealth Games, yet this is only one strand of a busy, suspenseful novel.

While in the background a terrorist cell sets in motion its plans to disrupt the Games as violently as possible, Lorimer is distracted by the re-appearance of a childhood sweetheart who almost immediately becomes a widow. Meanwhile, somewhere out there in the meanest streets of the city, a young Nigerian refugee, knowing no English nor anything of the city she has been taken to, is at the mercy of violent immoral men.

Though never less than entertaining with the various elements drawn together in a satisfying conclusion, this falls short of being one of the stronger entries in the series. Long term fans may be disappointed that the plotting leaves Gray’s other regular hero, profiler Solly Brightman, effectively sidelined to little more than a cameo appearance.

A more serious issue is the identity of the terrorists. While it is commendable that Gray opts to look beyond the usual suspects (Islamists, Northern Irish paramilitaries, neo-Nazis etc), the selection of an ultra-nationalist terror group makes little sense, especially in the year of the independence referendum. In the end, for all their evil schemes, they come over as less menacing than as a tartan-hued equivalent of the hapless terrorists of Chris Morris satire Four Lions.

Worth a look for established readers, but not Gray at her finest.

CM

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