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British Mysteries

The Last Victim in Glen Ross, M.G. Kincaid, Pocket, $5.99.

As both a bookseller and a reader I can say with conviction that The Last Victim in Glen Ross is the very type of book that should proliferate. Fun to read, fun to sell, intelligently written with interesting and complex central characters, it's at the same time a quick read and a satisfying mystery. I even had the greedy reader's lament when I finished it - when is the next one coming out? (November, unfortunately). This is a well done procedural set in Scotland with enough local detail to keep you interested, but with more of an eye to a brisk story with lots of good twists. The book opens with a body found in the cemetery behind the rectory, the face horribly disfigured. Golden age-y, certainly, but 21st century style, we are shown what a loss to the community in general this particular victim is, her death setting off all kinds of unpleasant ripples.

The case is investigated by ex-military man and fairly new detective Seth Mornay, and his partner, Claire Gillespie. Seth has a social life that's a complete mess, psychological haunting left behind by the (I assume) Gulf War, and a tendency to follow his hunches to the fury of both his overbearing superior and his partner. Claire is a strong, capable woman who has - refreshingly - no romantic interest in her partner and who keeps a goldfish on her desk. The interplay between both Mornay and Gillespie and between Mornay and his somewhat idiotic superior officer (I'm hoping this will be a continuing theme), gives this mystery the extra oomph that sets it apart from other more staid country procedurals. The characters are certainly well delineated, but by the end of the novel, I was eager to learn more about all of them.

The mystery is suitably complex and has lots of both underlying red herrings and genuine clues to hold your interest. All in all, this is a reading experience I couldn't recommend more highly.

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