Cutting Edge is the third outing for DCI Charlie Anderson, veteran Glasgow copper and stickler for 'proper policing'. At a time when statistics seem to direct their every move, Charlie prefers his tried and tested methods for solving crimes which are more about exploring all the angles and finding the one piece of evidence that provides the key to conviction. He is certainly less than enamoured about being forced to engage the services of a profiler. He much prefers to employ his own gut feelings.
Set in near-contemporary Glasgow, those who know the city will see familiarity in the surroundings which Bill Daly deftly crafts for his characters. The story begins with the murder of an elderly woman, a member of the travelling community whose death seems motiveless. This is quickly followed by the murder of a young female accountant who has been lured to a public park, and, shortly afterwards, the discovery of the body of a heroin-addicted mercenary on a train. In each case the left hand is hacked off and sent to Charlie, along with a playing card. Three seemingly unrelated individuals, clearly being used to send a message, but what is the message? The case is gruelling enough, but when Charlie's wife is targetted in a local supermarket and his daughter starts to receive threatening messages suggesting she and her son are at risk, it becomes a personal mission to crack the case and save his family.
Charlie is looking for a serial killer, but one whose motives are unclear. None of the dead are in any way related to one another. Their lives are completely separate. Charlie finds himself battling with the top brass, with members of his own team and trying to keep the media at bay, while he tries to uncover a motive and find the killer. When he is summoned to speak to a Superintendent of The Metropolitan Counter Terrorism Command, what seemed bizarre before, seems suddenly even more so. New information, which Charlie must only divulge on a 'need to know' basis, heightens his concerns for his family and creates a greater urgency to track down the perpetrator.
Cutting Edge is a highly engaging read which progresses towards a satisfying conclusion at a good pace. Bill Daly has created a complex character in DCI Charlie Anderson, and for those of us who have followed his previous exploits in books one and two, it is possible to see how he has changed, perhaps mellowed somewhat, whilst at the same time upholding the same principles in the job that he always has. Here is a man approaching the end of his career, but still keen to do the job to the best of his ability, even if that does involve him being receptive to making some small concessions to progress. That said, if this is your first meeting with Charlie, then this is still a great standalone read.