Louise Welsh - A Lovely Way to Burn (3 stars)

The first instalment in Welsh's Plague Times trilogy is a solid, pacy murder mystery

Louise Welsh - A Lovely Way to Burn

Stevie's boyfriend is dead. This in itself is not unusual: the 'sweats' pandemic is sweeping the globe and death is suddenly everywhere. What is unusual is the cryptic letter he left her in the tea caddy, and the mysterious package in the loft that his medical colleagues seem oddly keen to get their hands on. Stevie soon has reason to suspect foul play but, in a society that is falling apart, can she persuade anyone to care?

The first instalment in Louise Welsh's Plague Times trilogy is a solid, pacy murder mystery. Welsh sticks closely to a well-worn thriller template and tends to overdo the similes, but her plague is plausible and chilling. In a city of desperate people, even the most benign places become fraught with danger, and every step of Stevie's amateur investigation is palpably tense.

Unfortunately this tension does fizzle out towards the end, and the final confrontation is a bit anti-climactic. Nevertheless, A Lovely Way to Burn will keep you hooked to the last page, even if it is unlikely to linger in your mind afterwards.

Published by John Murray on Thu 27 Mar.

Louise Welsh: Death is a Welcome Guest

The Scottish crime literature stalwart releases her latest novel, the second in her new Plague Times trilogy, where a global plague called 'The Sweats' has swept across London.

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