Head Shot, by Quintin Jardine

Chief Constable Bob Skinner is on his way to a conference in Singapore when he hears that his wife's parents have been murdered in America. He travels there and manages to get himself involved in the investigation of the crime which turns out to be more complex than it first appeared. Meanwhile, back on his home patch in Edinburgh, they're looking into a series of apparently unconnected crimes.

This is one of a series of "Skinner" books, judging from Amazon. In fact, I could have worked that out - there were a number of references to other cases. It's also not one of the best ones, according to the Amazon reviews. I could have worked that out too.

There are two separate stories here - the murders in America, and the crimes back in Scotland. The stories aren't linked, except for Skinner's involement, although they run in parallel, and there are occasions where the author has contrived to have similar things happening in each one.

Basically, the American stuff could have got chopped. Quite early on, you find out that the murdered father-in-law was doing something in Washington at the time of the Kennedy administration. At this stage I thought, "wouldn't it be funny if Skinner ends up uncovering the conspiracy to assassinate Kennedy". But... that's what happened. Although it wasn't really very interesting, and at the end of the book Skinner decides not to publicise it: "some secrets are best left hidden".

The story set in Scotland was more interesting: it took a while for all of the separate plotlines to come together, and so I first thought it was going to be a bit like a Frost book: a month in the life of a police station. But while there was nothing groundbreaking in the way things worked out, it was quite listenable.

I did find it very hard to work out who was who: there seemed to be quite a large cast of characters (all very well voiced by James Bryce) and maybe I could have kept track a bit better if half of the book hadn't been set on the other side of the Atlantic.

Given that this appears to be one of the weakest Skinner books, I may give another one a go.

Completed : 15-Mar-2007 (audiobook, read by James Bryce)

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