Woollcott was born in Belfast in Northern Ireland and now lives in Canada. Her
debut, the first police procedural with Detective Sergeant Ryan McBride and his partner Detective
Sergeant Billy Lamont of the Belfast police, won the RWA Daphne du Maurier
Award, was short-listed in the Crime Writers of Canada Awards of Excellence in
2021, and was a Silver Falchion Award finalist at Killer Nashville 2023.
Her second book with DS McBride and DS
Lamont is Blood Relations (Level Best Books, 2023). It is set just
before COVID, when things changed on so many levels.
murder of retired Chief Inspector Patrick Mullan in his isolated country house has
Homicide scrambling for fast answers. The new Homicide manager is convinced the
culprit will be found among the many miscreants Mullan sent to prison. The
intensity of the killing makes McBride think the murder was personal and wants
to look at Mullan’s family and close friends but he follows orders and begins
checking with informants. He learns John Bell was released from prison the
previous week and that Bell claimed Mullan interfered with his sentencing. In a
similar vein McBride also hears suggestions and hints that Mullan was
friendlier with the local crime bosses than was seemly for someone in his
investigation with multiple avenues to explore, a victim with a murky past, and
intriguing subplots. The supporting characters are great, especially Gracie,
Bell’s ex-wife, and Doris, Bell’s mother, who remain fast friends despite
Gracie’s separation from Bell. Steady pacing of events and disclosure of clues
prevented mid-story slump and kept me engaged.
I pointed out
in a review about a month ago and I will say it again here that I am really
tired of the competent cop fighting inept upper management trope that is so
common now. Not that useless managers don’t exist, I have had more than my fair
share of them. But portraying upper management as blithering idiots is not
realistic. It’s more accurate to show them as consumed with the administrative
demands of their positions: the higher up the chain any employee in any
organization moves, the more attuned they have to be to financial and political
dynamics. I always thought Steven Havill handled the uninformed manager in the
early Bill Gastner books exceptionally well. It’s an approach more writers of
police procedurals should consider.
aspect and I understand other readers may not find the theme as objectionable
as I do, I really liked this book; I was especially delighted with the thread
involving Gracie and Doris. Recommended!
Publisher: Level Best Books (August
Paperback: 286 pages
Nye Hamilton ©2023
Hamilton is a former librarian who works on Federal It projects by day and
reads mysteries at night.