The Lost Sister by Russel D. McLean is the second outing for Dundee-based private investigator J McNee. The physical scars that McNee acquired at the end of Russel D. McLean's debut novel The Good Son have at least partly healed, but the mental scars left by the experience have simply been added to the cupboard full left by earlier personal tragedy, and by a lifelong seriousness of outlook and social awkwardness that have always tended to mark out J McNee as a man apart.
And then McNee receives a call from a journalist who wants him to look into the disappearance of a Dundee schoolgirl, Mary Furst. Not on a professional basis, merely as a favour. Despite his better judgement and the strenuous efforts by ex-colleagues still in the police force and involved in the search for the girl to dissuade him, McNee starts looking into the background. One thing he keeps coming back to is the identity of the girl's uncle and godfather. David Burns was once a leading Dundee gangster and though he is now supposed to be a respectable businessman, no one is fooled, least of all McNee, who saw Burns for what he was in the first novel of the series. No sooner has McNee decided to follow his only friend's advice that he is involved for all the wrong reasons and withdraw, than he is approached by Burns, offering to pay him handsomely to find his missing niece. McNee declines, but is then asked for a third time, on this occasion by someone entirely unexpected, to find the girl: and this time he is also offered a completely new insight into the circumstances of her disappearance that leave him feeling he has little option but to become involved once more.
Russel D. McLean's writing remains every bit as compelling, focussed and gritty in The Lost Sister as it was in his first novel: though he has brought to his second book a more flowing and assured style that presumably comes from the simple fact that this is no longer his debut. The result is a compulsive page-turner that draws you in and refuses to let you go until you have ridden the plot all the way to a climax every bit as unexpected and violent as he achieved at the end of J McNee's first outing.