Published in June 2012 by Simon & Schuster
November 1993. Scotland is in the grip of the coldest winter in living memory and the Lake of Menteith is frozen over. A young man and woman walk across the ice to the historic island of Inchmahome which lies in the middle of the lake. Only the man comes back.
In the spring, as staff prepare the abbey ruins for summer visitors, they discover the unidentifiable remains of the body of a girl, her skull violently crushed.
Present day. Retired detective Alan Narey is still haunted by the unsolved crime. Desperate to relieve her father’s conscience, DS Rachel Narey returns to the Lake of Menteith and unofficially reopens the cold case.
With the help of police photographer Tony Winter, Rachel discovers that the one man her father had always suspected was the killer has recently died. Risking her job and reputation, Narey prepares a dangerous gambit to uncover the killer’s identity – little knowing who that truly is. Despite the freezing temperatures, the ice-cold case begins to thaw, and with it a tide of secrets long frozen in time is suddenly and shockingly unleashed.
After blasting onto the scene with Random and following it up with the assured and equally strong Snapshot, this latest novel which is due out in June just wouldn’t wait patiently on the shelf and, well to be honest, I thought if I didn’t pick it up, it might just chin me. And so, you will have to excuse the early review on this one – it couldn’t wait, I couldn’t wait and, if you’ve read the first two books then you’ll be pre-ordering now anyway.
Cold Grave brings back the two central characters from the previous novels, DS Rachel Narey of Strathclyde Police and Tony Winter, a crime photographer with an unnerving interest in photographing horror and death, and of keeping his favourite shots on his wall at home. It’s a ‘past-meets-present’ book and that’s what sets it aside from the previous books as ‘most’ of the violence has already taken place. Note I say ‘most’, as there are still those classic Robertson moments here which may well make you flinch and turn from the page, particularly if you’ve ever had a hearty kick in the b******s or have ever worried about standing too near the edge of a station platform – reader beware.
The chill created by the opening first few pages in which two people walk across the frozen lake and only one returns is soon warmed again by the talk of whisky as Narey takes Winter away for a ‘mystery’ break (in every sense of the word). It’s this careful balance of cold and warmth that works so well throughout, taking the reader from moments of out and out frozen terror through to some of the saddest moments I have read in some time.
The violent act of 1993 may appear frozen in time, the ‘Lady in the Lake Murder’ almost the stuff of local folklore, but it’s clear that more than one person is looking for a form of closure to the case. For Rachel Narey it’s the case that remains haunting her father, the case that he didn’t close, and the only thing left that he appears to be able to hang on to with any clarity whilst the rest of his life is so cruelly shattered every day by his alzheimer’s.
A thoroughly satisfying, thrilling and chilling ride through the cold and dark streets of Glasgow – of which there will surely soon be Narey & Winter tours.
Keith – and you can read an interview with Craig right here.