There is no fundamental difference between man and the higher animals in their mental faculties… The lower animals, like man, manifestly feel pleasure and pain, happiness, and misery.
— Charles Darwin (1809-1882)
A series of crimes are being perpetrated against people who have mistreated animals. Animal lovers might applaud this as ‘justice’, but the police of the city of Dundee are concerned that the crimes are escalating in seriousness. It all began with a farmer who got caught in a snare. Then a woman was thrown into a dumpster. But now… a brother and sister were abducted, a family who owned a battery hen farm were held captive with the father tortured, AND finally another man who raced greyhounds was murdered. Evidence links the crimes, though finding the perpetrators is proving difficult, if not impossible.
Detective Sergeant Victoria Dodds is tasked with finding them. Vicky is, by her own admission a ‘cold bitch’. She has learned that to cope with the many arduous demands of her work and home life, that is the only way to survive. Beneath her frosty exterior is a warm heart, with as many misgivings, doubt and guilt as any young working single mother could have. Luckily she has a strong support network to counteract her intense work stress. Her parents live nearby and they care for her four year old daughter on a regular basis. She has female friends.
On the other hand, Vicky is very reluctant to enter into a relationship. Once bitten – as they say. When her good friend arranges a blind date, she acquiesces and meets Robert, a widower – who on the face of it seems a good guy. The trouble is, Vicky has always been attracted to bad guys. And there is one of those just transferred in at her work… Euan MacDonald.
With a well-balanced blend of police procedure and Vicky’s private life, this latest entry in the ‘tartan noir‘ genre is a huge success. The characters are well-rounded and interesting, even those in the periphery, such as the IT expert Zoe and Vicky’s ambitious and cocky Detective Constable Considine. Set in the city of Dundee, it sheds light on Scotland’s fourth largest city. The author’s previous work in IT comes through with his use of the dark web and mention of HTTP tunnels etc. featuring in the narrative. The novel is a long one, but was for me a quick read – aided I think by the author’s use of short chapters.
At the end of the day it is the premise of abusing the abusers which makes this novel stand out from its contemporaries and makes “Snared” a memorable debut to what I hope will be a long and successful series.
Ed James lives in the East Lothian countryside, 25 miles east of Edinburgh, with his girlfriend, six rescue cats, two retired greyhounds, a flock of ex-battery chickens and rescue ducks. While working in IT for a living, Ed wrote mainly on public transport but now writes crime fiction novels full time.