Dead Girl Walking – Chris Brookmyre (4 stars)

Dead Girl Walking – Chris Brookmyre

Jack Parlabane is back in this fast-paced offering from the Tartan Noir author

Fans of two of the Tartan Noir genre’s most successful authors will be pleased to know that Ian Rankin’s Rebus isn’t the only semi-retired character who has been brought back into full use of late. Although Chris Brookmyre has used a broader collection of lead characters in his time than his east-coast counterpart, it was with investigative journalist Jack Parlabane that he first made his name through books like the 1996 debut Quite Ugly One Morning and its follow-up Country of the Blind. This sixth instalment in the Parlabane saga is the first since 2007’s The Attack of the Unsinkable Rubber Ducks, and it finds both character and author exploring a very different landscape in Jack’s profession.

When we first meet ‘Alec Forman’, the byline Parlabane now uses for his writing, he’s being interviewed by request in a London police station as to how an MP’s stolen laptop came into his possession. These are gloomy times for the journalist, his wife having left him, and his career currently in a mess thanks to his appearance at the Leveson Inquiry. Not because of the shady practices revealed – for most, says Parlabane, Leveson was an opportunity to demonstrate how far they’d go to get a story – but that he got scapegoated, and now ‘the job he did no longer existed’.

Needing work, he takes on an assignment for a late friend’s sister to find her disappeared client Heike Gunn, singer with the rock group Savage Earth Heart. The story unfolds from both Parlabane’s perspective as he trawls Berlin to Colonsay looking for the woman, and that of Monica, a Shetland fiddler who’s writing a blog detailing her time with Savage Earth Heart. Like so many others, Brookmyre can’t quite escape the air of self-consciousness inherent in trying to capture the designed-in spontaneity of the music industry, but his own snappy prose and awareness of the situations he describes is as sharp as the satisfyingly fast-paced plotting.

Out now, from Little, Brown

Chris Brookmyre

Brookmyre discusses his newest book Places in the Darkness, a crime novel set in space. Christopher Brookmyre is the author of novels starring investigate journalist Jack Parlabane, counterterrorism officer Angelique de Xavia and crime duo Jasmine Sharp and Catherine McLeod, a private detective and a police investigator.