Cold Grave – Craig Robertson


Link to Amazon UK.

Where Robertson’s second novel Snapshot (review link) focused on police photographer Tony Winter as the main protagonist, Cold Grave (Amazon UK link) shifts the beam of light onto DS Rachel Narey.

In November 1993, Scotland endures its coldest winter in living memory and the Lake of Menteith freezes over.  A young couple walk across its ice to the historic island of Inchmahome, but only the man returns.  When spring arrives, staff preparing the abbey ruins for summer visitors discover the unidentifiable remains of the body of a girl, her skull violently crushed.

Narey is losing her father to Alzheimer’s but there’s one memory that lingers to torment him: the Inchmahome case that he never managed to solve from 1994.  Strong-willed Narey wants to correct that with the help of her not-yet-public other half Tony Winter and his (retired copper) uncle.  And it all has to remain unofficial at the outset.  Through routine police work, Narey then discovers that the man her father had always suspected has recently died…

Cold Grave is an intriguing, absorbing and moving novel.  With its ensemble of characters it becomes a true wider-family affair pursuing resolution for a cold case.  Robertson excels at creating tension, maintaining pace and painting lively, believable characters with typical Glaswegian mouths.  Allowing humour to bleed in, the sense of reality is strong and the reader feels part of the team on the page.  Glasgow and its surrounds – all the way to Callander in this one – are certainly Robertson’s patch and he’s an observant guide.

Shortlisted for the CWA’s John Creasey Dagger in 2010 for his debut novel Random – an innovation in plotting – this author confirms he’s going from strength to strength with Cold Grave.  For good plots, depth and texture to characters and setting, and more threads in the weave than in your tartan, Robertson’s your man.