You may have noticed my earlier post about Douglas Lindsay's new police procedural THE UNBURIED DEAD and read that I'd hunt him down and hit him if he didn't come up with another DS Hutton story PDQ. Well, never fear, violence wasn't necessary (or maybe the threat of violence was totally overwhelming) because, what do you know...bing, bang, bong - Lindsay produces not one but two more in the Hutton series (you see, I am now confident enough to call it a series) to satisfy even my voracious appetite for all things Lindsay.
A Plague of Crows and The Blood That Stains Your Hands both have interesting plots, very different to each other, but equally engaging. Depends what you are looking for; CROWS is more gruesome and at the 'you have to be kidding me' end of the market, whilstBLOOD is more of the 'everyday life gone wrong' type of deal. Both great and I certainly appreciate that the plots were miles apart. No recycling here.
Enough about plot. Characters - ah yes! In CROWS, Lindsay starts to lift the corner of the duvet to give the reader a peep at the dirty, heaving blackness carried around on Hutton's back. We already know this man is severely damaged by something in his past...and here it is, in all its fetid glory.
And then more stuff happens to him. How much can any man take, you may wonder, as Hutton moves from coffee to vodka to woman after woman.
A warning - you will feel like taking Hutton into a dark corner and having 'a word with him' about his attitude to woman. Stick with it though - trust me, but I did think for a bit that Lindsay had gone a bit too far with objectification - was it it just salacious writing or was there some purpose behind all the tongue lolling, breast fantasising? You'll find out in Book 3.
CAN'T LEAVE HER BEHIND...
Magic stuff, no really. A fabulous book - The Blood That Stains Your Hands is just remarkable. Lindsay digs ever deeper into the psyche of Hutton and leaves no grave unturned (yes there's graves) in this crescendo of malice, hypocrisy, despair and revelation.
Spoiler alert ( I feel I have to...), Hutton survives The Plague of Crows. He somehow returns to work more damaged, more disillusioned and smelling even worse- not showering or changing ones clothes after being out on the scatter does not make for pleasing odours.
Assigned to the humdrum of policing, public toilet vandals and neighbours falling out, Hutton is given a 'get out of jail' card from his boss, Taylor. They head off to the scene of a suicide where they find an elderly lady hanging from a bridge wearing a pair of wings. Got my interest.
The plot is an interesting one, not your usual - hip, hip, hooray, but if you know anything about the congregations you can find any Sunday in churches across Scotland, then you will not be surprised to read about the vitriol and politics that go on in our communities when churches are asked to merge due to falling rolls. If this is all new to you, then you might be surprised at what these good Christian folk can get up to. Lindsay is obviously well versed in the goings on with parishioners giving up a lifetime of churchgoing rather than entering the other church down the road and continuing with their worship.
Unlikely plot, but brilliant choice. I love a good dollop of religion with my crime, goes down well. I'm pretty sure Wee Barney was lurking somewhere at the back of the congregation wondering what kind of haircuts he could suggest. Enough.
Lindsay tortures Hutton some more. His life gets worse. A lot worse. We find out more. We see deep into his darkness which Lindsay describes in such an accurate way. This is a writer who understands pain.
I hope there's more to come - a lot more.
As Dylan said, Can't Escape From You...