Today I’m delighted to share my thoughts on The Blood Tide by Neil Lancaster. I really enjoyed the first book in the series, Dead Man’s Grave and getting to know DS Max Craigie, so am very happy that I has this and book three waiting in the wings to read straight away. Here’s what the book is all about:
About the Book
In a remote sea loch on the west coast of Scotland, a fisherman vanishes without trace. His remains are never found.
You make people disappear.
A young man jumps from a bridge in Glasgow and falls to his death in the water below. DS Max Craigie uncovers evidence that links both victims. But if he can’t find out what cost them their lives, it won’t be long before more bodies turn up at the morgue…
You come back for revenge.
Soon cracks start to appear in the investigation, and Max’s past hurtles back to haunt him. When his loved ones are threatened, he faces a terrifying choice: let the only man he ever feared walk free, or watch his closest friend die…
One thing you learn very quickly as a fan of crime fiction is that if it ever looks as though your protagonist might be in for a bit of a quiet and peaceful time, something brown and smelly is about to hit the fan. That’s definitely true of Max Craigie in his second outing, The Blood Tide, when a face from the past resurfaces, threatening the new found peace and happiness with his wife, Katie. On top of that, he is caught on the periphery of a drugs case, a new team intent on taking over Tam Hardie’s old patch and whose claim on the streets stems all the way to the heart of Police Scotland once more. Just another day at work for Max Craigie, Janie Calder and DI Ross Fraser of the Policing Standards Assurance Team.
I really liked the pacing on this one. There is a constant sense of threat and urgency, an underlying menace, the root of which soon starts to make sense. It both enraged and engaged me, but in a series which is focused on rooting out and eliminating corruption, it came as not too much of a surprise. The foes in this book come from all walks of life, and through a succession of bluffs and double-crosses, it is hard to see which way is up and who exactly Max should be focusing his energies on. When we finally see who is pulling the strings, it left a small smile of satisfaction on my face, knowing we were set for quite the escalation of action. And we get that a plenty, with out protagonists placed in mortal danger.
There is a nice mystery that bubbles along with this story, a traitor in the midst who is hidden in plain sight. Looking back there are some clues as to who may be the mystery source, but in truth I didn’t spot it right until the final moments, just as the author intended. And the ending of the book was perfect. Not as expected at all, but fitting and draws a perfect line under the story, if muddying the waters somewhat for Max. It made me chuckle, when perhaps it shouldn’t, and maybe the only niggling point is how easy the ‘professional criminals’ made it for our heroes to gain the upper hand. Of sorts …
I do like the characters of Max, Janie and Ross. They make a great team, with Ross’s gruff cynicism, Janie’s enthusiasm and Max’s unerring belief in justice and honour. With a wonderful supporting team around them, particularly Norma Kirk who is drafted in for support on the case, and the banter between them. Offsets some of the darker moments. The book does deal in both suicide and murder, as well as drug smuggling, so it leans towards the darker side of crime fiction, but in a balanced and authentic way. There is no sensationalism nor glossing over of the brutality of the story. But the camaraderie of the main team, and the way in which they are so in sync with one another, makes for a brilliant and completely engrossing read.
I’m looking forward to tucking into book three now to see where the author takes us, and his characters, next.
About the Author
Neil Lancaster is the No.1 digital bestselling author of the Tom Novak series. His latest novel, Dead Man’s Grave, was longlisted for the 2021 William McIlvanney Prize for Best Scottish Crime Book of the Year. He served as a military policeman in the RAF and worked as a detective for the Metropolitan Police, investigating serious crimes in the capital and beyond. As a covert policing specialist, he used a variety of tactics to obtain evidence against murderers, human traffickers, drug dealers and fraudsters.
He now lives in the Scottish Highlands, writes crime and thriller novels and works as a broadcaster and commentator on true crime documentaries. He is a key expert on two Sky Crime TV series, Meet, Marry, Murder and Made for Murder.