We meet newly-appointed Detective Constable Kirsty Wilson as she prepares for her first day serving in Glasgow CID; her first day out of the uniform that has been her constant companion since joining the police; and her first day doing the job she has wanted since joining the police, and long before. Kirsty knows what she is getting herself into. Her father is a soon-to-retire detective inspector, and one of their closest family friends is Detective Superintendent William Lorimer, the man heading the CID department Kirsty has been appointed to.
It doesn't take Kirsty long to begin to question just how well she really understands what she has taken on. On her first morning she accompanies her CID mentor and immediate boss, Detective Sergeant Len Murdoch, to attend the suspicious death of an elderly woman: suspicious because it happened immediately following an unscheduled visit by a previously unknown nurse. Before she's had a chance to catch her breath, she is on the scene of another death, this time the savage murder of a well-known Glasgow drug dealer. Then another vulnerable person is murdered in their sleep, and the police begin to realise that there is a killer at large and other murders are likely to happen: and equally likely to have happened already and gone unnoticed, mistaken for natural causes.
Alex Gray doesn't write simple, linear stories, and in "The Darkest Goodbye" she weaves a complex and entertaining web that shuttles the reader between the worlds of Kirsty Wilson, William Lorimer, and other, darker, characters, who seem sure they can carry on just as before, despite the increasing police interest. As a result the reader is often a few steps ahead of the police in terms of understanding what is going on, though the author balances this beautifully with an ability to withhold just enough to veil the central questions of who is behind the dreadful scheme that is uncovered, and what their true motivations really are.
A sense of place is often so important to really good Tartan Noir, and it certainly is here. The modern Glasgow that serves as a backdrop to the plot lends a character that is in turn fascinating and threatening, and the result is a thoroughly good read. This is a book we'd heartily recommend, and one that has the added benefit of requiring no knowledge of the author's earlier works that share the Glasgow setting and some of the characters.