Chris Longmuir - Dead Wood
Dundee International Book Prize Winner 2009 published by (Polygon)
This debut Scottish crime novel deals with some hard-hitting subject matter – serial killing, prostitution, drugs, organised crime – which makes its lacklustre nature all the more frustrating. Set in Dundee, we follow single mum and part-time hooker Kara as she struggles to repay money to a local gangster, then gets embroiled in a multiple murder scene in nearby Templeton Woods.
Dead Wood is written with pace, but there are several problems lacing through it. Dialogue is often stilted and awkward, characters are little more than thin crime genre clichés and, worst of all, the plot repeatedly relies heavily on unbelievable coincidence – a fatal flaw in this kind of story. The backdrop of Dundee isn’t utilised as it might be; in fact, street names aside, this could be anywhere. Flat and clunky on the page from start to rather ridiculous finish, this is a poor addition to the Scottish crime genre.