The Good Son by Russel D McLean is a fast paced and compellingly written crime novel: the sort of book that keeps you turning the page long after you intended to turn the light off, simply to find out what happens next.
Within this outstanding debut novel we are introduced to Dundee-based private investigator J McNee, or "Steed" to one of his very few friends: an acknowledged poor pun based on Patrick Macnee's character in "The Avengers". To everyone else he is simply known as "McNee", having long since abandoned the first name visited on him by his parents. McNee had been a serving police officer whose promising career in CID was cut short when, after a personal tragedy, he suffered a breakdown and attacked and broke the nose of a senior officer. Unfortunately for MacNee this same senior officer, a man whose limited social skills do not include easy forgiveness, keeps turning up in the case McNee has been asked to pursue.
Which is odd, because the case appears to be one the police are saying that they consider to be closed. The long lost brother of a Fife farmer, James Robertson, is found by him, hanging from a tree close to where they were raised. The official police line is that this is a simple case of suicide, but it's not clear they believe that themselves. Robertson turns to McNee to find out the truth about his brother's death, which, it rapidly becomes clear, was anything but simple, and might not actually have been suicide. McNee's early investigations prompt the arrival in Dundee of various unsavoury characters from the dead man's past, including, with overtones of "Dundee meets Reservoir Dogs", two exceptionally hard men from London: and the body count begins to mount.
Russel D McLean's writing style is focussed and efficient, and the plot moves along at a cracking pace with enough twists and turns to keep you guessing to the very end. His main character, McNee, is believably, sometimes almost irritatingly, dysfunctional, and the minor characters are sufficiently well drawn to play their parts in the book convincingly. The dialogue is what might be described as "gritty", and probably very true to the lives its characters are leading. All in all, this is a "must read" for all fans of crime fiction, and especially of Scottish crime fiction.