Claire MacLeary – Cross Purpose (3 stars)

Claire MacLeary – Cross Purpose

Gritty crime novel with the friendship of two women at the centre

When Maggie Laird's husband dies suddenly, she's left with a mortgage and two teenage children. With little employment to her name, Maggie is convinced by neighbour Wilma that the pair of them should take on her late husband's private investigator business.

Maggie's initial lack of street smarts is a welcome change from the macho bravado of many crime novels. It is endearing as she strives to embody the skills of a PI and establish herself in situations that starkly contrast her former suburban life. For a novel with quaint chapter titles that include 'Maggie Has a Wobble', it's surprisingly gritty. The PI team quickly become embroiled in cases involving drugs, fraud, prostitution and even murder.

While Maggie is firmly the protagonist, the book lends a variety of perspectives to the crimes of Aberdeen's mean streets. Chapters are voiced by drug dealer Fatboy, alcoholic childminder Kym and Detective Sergeant Brian, creating an intricate web of plot lines.

There is a tendency to explicitly sum up how far the two women have come. However with the business established and the women's friendship cemented, the sequel promises to delve directly into the gritty underworld of the granite city.

Out Thu 23 Feb.