Book review: The Bird That Did Not Sing by Alex Gray

Policing the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow was never going to be easy… but a terrorist plot sets in motion a frantic race to halt the greatest threat the city has ever known.

By Pam Norfolk
Tuesday, 25th November 2014, 9:00 am
The Bird That Did Not Sing by Alex Gray
The Bird That Did Not Sing by Alex Gray

Alex Gray’s doughty Scottish detective Detective Superintendent William Lorimer has his work cut out in a gripping, multi-stranded case which pits the traditional, clean-cut crime fighter against an unseen, unknown enemy.

Winner of the Scottish Association of Writers’ Constable and Pitlochry trophies and co-founder of the Bloody Scotland international crime writing festival, Gray has turned her home city of Glasgow into a fascinating battle ground in her series of hard-hitting crime novels.

The Bird That Did Not Sing, a slow-burn, complex and compelling thriller, brings to life the vibrant city in the busy run-up to this year’s Commonwealth Games, an event that forms an exciting and atmospheric backdrop to a tale of terrorism, trafficking and murder.

Sign up to our daily Burnley Express Today newsletter

A year before the Commonwealth Games are due to open in Glasgow, DS Lorimer feels no sense of premonition when a mysterious bomb explodes in nearby rural Stirlingshire and is more than happy to hand over the inquiry to Special Branch.

But malignant forces are at work and as the opening ceremony for the Games draws ever closer, the culprits have still not been found.

Lorimer, meantime, has other things on his mind. One is Vivien Gilmartin, a beautiful red-haired woman from his schooldays who is attending a forthcoming reunion and despite his dislike of social networking, he suddenly has a burning curiosity to meet her again.

When Vivien’s impresario husband Charles dies suddenly, Lorimer is drawn into the investigation and makes some unexpected discoveries. Within days, the body of a teenage girl is found dumped in countryside just south of the city and it is proving impossible to identify her.

And hiding behind false identities is a sinister and ruthless group who pose a terrible danger not just to the Games but to the very fabric of society…

Gray’s trademark intelligent plotting creates a seductively menacing scenario for a story that encompasses some of the 21st century’s most disturbing crimes, and shines a light into Glasgow’s dark corners.

At the heart of the action is our decent and dependable detective, for once distracted by a face from his past but still determined that no stone will be left unturned in the fight to see justice done.

An intriguing thriller from Scotland’s ever-expanding stable of classy crime writers…

(Sphere, paperback, £7.99)