The Dead Won’t Sleep – Anna Smith

I’ve definitely read The Dead Won’t Sleep before but only realized that as I was reading it this time around.

This is the first in a series revolving around a Glasgow reporter named Rosie Gilmour. It makes a change from the female police detective thing but Rosie has a tendency of getting so involved in the cases she’s investigating that she may as well be law enforcement.

This is not a pretty book: it’s about prostitutes and corruption and murder down grimy back alleys and it is Rosie’s job to uncover and try to expose all that’s going on.

We open on three men discovering that the prostitute they have onboard their yacht is dead and banding together to throw her into the sea. I’m always a bit dubious about stories where you know from the off who’s responsible but this isn’t a ‘whodunnit’, it’s a really quite convincing outline of how Rosie and her newspaper work to expose these men, even when everything seems set against them.

It’s clear that the author, Smith, knows what she’s talking about when it comes to journalism. It’s not the sort of fantastical ‘WE MUST EXPOSE THE TRUTH’ crusade you sometimes read, where the journalist comes across no obstacles in the quest to bring the criminals to justice, instead Rosie has to put her case to lawyers and is occasionally turned down and has to tone down and carefully plan her attacks. I like that. I like learning about different professions and this is a nice (though obviously extreme!) insight.

The characters are all relatively two-dimensional: there’s the sleazy chief of police, the reliable but ambitious editor, the flighty love interest and the ‘tart with a heart’ hooker, but the story is engaging enough that it’s pretty easy to look past that.

There are two interlocking stories that play out through the course of this book, both involving perpetrators who would ordinarily be ‘above suspicion’, but it is through Rosie’s investigative methods that it all comes out. These are handled well, as one becomes a very ‘human’ story, where we come to meet all the big players and so grow to hate or root for them, whilst the other is just a bit too awful to really delve into, so we watch it from afar, with Rosie coordinating the investigation rather than getting right in there herself.

There is an element of a romance here, between Rosie and TJ, but it’s not unnecessary, as is often the case with these crime novels. It’s actually more of an obstacle Rosie has to overcome. She ends up ultimately having to decide between him or her work.

I really enjoyed this. I listened to it on audible and the Scottish accent is really soothing, despite the subject matter. One thing that does frustrate me a bit is how often the word ‘banter’ is used; having been a teacher of teenagers for a while, that’s a word that starts to grate on you. It’s gripping though, with a nice, clear narrative that’s easy to follow even if your mind wonders for a minute or two.

I’m now listening to the third in the series, Screams in the Dark as I’ve heard the second one, To Tell the Truth recently. I’ll listen again though soon and review it then. There are six of them out currently and, looking at her website, Smith has another one out soon.

It’s difficult to find much to criticize here. It is what it is. It’s entertaining and interesting and dark enough to hold my interest. I’m very happy to know there are a few more to keep me going for a while!

If there’s anything you’d quite like me to review, give me a shout. I’m looking for new books ideally as I’m aware that nobody’s really looking up all these books that are years old. I’m a bit precious when picking new books so would love some recommendations.

Currently reading:
Book: Boundary – Andrée A. Michaud
Audio: Screams in the Dark – Anna Smith

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