"Fixed Odds" by William McIntyre is the latest in a series of novels featuring Robbie Munro, a criminal defence lawyer. As a partner in Scotland’s oldest law firm, the author has a long career to draw upon for ideas on cases and storylines that ring absolutely true to the reader. "Fixed Odds" is another triumph and what makes this such a great read is that the key character is so well formed and so endearing.
Endearing? That is perhaps an odd word to use when speaking about crime fiction, but Robbie Munro really has endearing characteristics. He is a really down to earth guy. He is also lazy, disorganised and flies by the seat of his pants most of the time. His supporting cast comprises his long-suffering wife, even longer suffering secretary, his father, a retired policeman who always has an opinion to offer and his larger than life brother Malky, who carries his minor celebrity status like a beacon, plus a supporting cast of n’er-do-wells.
In this outing, Robbie is juggling the cases of George 'Genghis' McCann who has stolen, but then lost, a priceless masterpiece, and snooker champion Oscar 'The Showman' Bowman, who is charged with betting fraud. He is up against it in terms of timing, having just one week to prepare a case for Bowman, for whom the odds don’t look great. With humour and a good helping of breath-holding we follow Munro as he negotiates the complexities of preparing a case for a less than willing client and the emerging carnage surrounding the mystery of the missing masterpiece.
This a romp of a book, but it's not without its dark moments, when we actually fear for Robbie and what he has got himself into. Add in the imminent arrival of his second child and a highly hormonal wife who has taken to eating random things, and you might wonder whether it is just the criminals out there who are baying for his blood! Will it all end well? You’ll have to read "Fixed Odds" to find out.