"Gallow Falls" is Alex Nye's first venture into crime fiction. The result is a resounding success and one that I suspect the author is very likely to build on in the future. What can I tell you about "Gallow Falls" that won't spoil a nicely plotted story with enough twists and turns to keep you fully engaged right to the end?
The publisher's blurb gives a pretty good idea of what to expect: "A remote Scottish estate. A missing teenager. When a young archaeologist discovers bones at the site of her Bronze Age Broch on Gallows Hill, the community of Kilbroch hold their breath. A post-mortem on the remains reveals that the body is that of teenager, Robbie MacBride, missing for more than a decade. The teenager was shot at close range, and his gamekeeper father falls under suspicion. However, not everyone is convinced. The archaeologist, Laura, ex-detective, Callum MacGarvey and Robbie's grandmother continue to investigate, while Robbie's sister, the silent Ruthie, remains haunted by her inconclusive childhood flashbacks. Local landowner, George Strabane is arrested, Robbie's father is released, and it seems that old ghosts have been put to rest. However, the truth is darker still and the tragic reason for Ruthie's self-imposed silence is finally revealed."
The story is told mainly in the present tense and from the points of view of a number of the characters. It's set in a fictional location that is based on a real place and I found myself trying to work out where that is, using the geographic clues left by the author. But mainly I found myself trying to work out what the author wanted me to try to work out: what happened twelve years earlier and why, and how? Alex Nye's books tend to be beautifully-written and "Gallow Falls" is no exception: she has a lyrical approach to language that is unusual in a crime novel but certainly adds to her storytelling.
At its heart, this is a book whose story revolves around and is driven by the very well defined and highly believable characters at its core. Having got to know them from this book, I came away with a feeling that it would be a shame if the author doesn't revisit them in future. From my point of view, if there are further outings for ex-detective (or should that be ex-ex-detective?) Callum MacGarvey then that's something to be very much applauded and to look forward to.