A village on the edge…
As a massive storm batters the Scottish coast, Gordon Smith’s home is falling into the North Sea. But the crumbling headland has revealed what he’s got buried in his garden: human remains.

A house full of secrets…
With the storm still raging, it’s too dangerous to retrieve the bodies and waves are devouring the evidence. Which means no one knows how many people Smith’s already killed and how many more he’ll kill if he can’t be found and stopped.

An investigator with nothing to lose…
The media are baying for blood, the top brass are after a scapegoat, and ex-Detective Inspector Ash Henderson is done playing nice. He’s got a killer to catch, and God help anyone who gets in his way.

My Review

Here is an author who manages to find humour in the face of adversity. Well not just adversity, more like in the face of serial killers, blood, gore, torture, beatings and murder. It’s exciting, full of suspense, sometimes a bit over-the-top and unbelievable, but always enjoyable. It involves the hunt for not one but TWO serial killers – a bit like BOGOF but with more violence (except when there’s a rush in the middle-of-Lidl’s bargain aisle).

On the minus side, I was not keen on Ash’s Clint Eastwood 1970s Dirty Harry ‘Go ahead, make my day’ taking the law into your own hands style policing. It’s a bit much at times. I kept thinking you can’t DO that. It makes police corruption look acceptable.

The characters though, make this story. Ash Henderson – retired police officer (my friend Clive who left the force seven years ago says you are never an ‘ex-police officer’) – hot-headed and obviously superhuman (most of us would be dead after all the beatings) and his sidekick Dr Alice McDonald who drinks herself into a stupor most days and suffers from verbal diarrhoea. Bit like that paragraph. And breathe….

Then there’s Henry. Need I say more. Well OK. A bit like Alice, I always say more. Henry is our lovable, scruffable, fluffable wee Scotty dog. The true hero of the piece and everyone’s favourite character. Maybe not that kind of hero, but he never shirks his duty when free food is involved.

The Coffinmaker’s Garden is the third book in the Ash Henderson series, so readers of the first two will no doubt be familiar with the other police officers – Mother, one-eyed Shifty and jobsworth boss McEwan to name just three. Not having read the first two books it took a while to sort out who is who. But I did – eventually.

This is a brilliant read. And all set against the background of violent storms and the murder house disappearing into the sea. Even if you wince at times at the violence and the policing methods or lack thereof, you’ll be hooked I’m sure, like I was.

Many thanks to The Pigeonhole, the author and my fellow Pigeons for making this such an enjoyable read.

PS I quite enjoyed my 10 years working as a project manager in IT.

About the Author in his own words

“I was born in Dumbarton — no one knows why, not even my mother — and moved up to Aberdeen at the tender age of two, dragging my mother, father, and a pair of wee brothers with me. There followed a mediocre academic career, starting out in Marchburn Primary School, where my evil parents forced me to join the cub scouts (specialising in tying unnecessary knots in things and wearing shorts). Thence to Middlefield Academy for some combat recorder practice.

“Having outstayed our welcome in Heathryfold we stopped thencing and tried going hence instead. To Westhill. To a housing development built over the remains of a pig farm. Sounds a bit suspect, but that’s what the official story was when all the householders found teeth and bones coming to the surface of their neatly tended vegetable plots. Pig farm. Right… Eventually I escaped from Westhill Academy with a CSE in woodwork, a deep suspicion of authority, and itchy shins.

“Here followed an aborted attempt to study architecture at Herriot Watt in Edinburgh, which proved to be every bit as exciting and interesting as watching a badger decompose. If you’ve never tried it, I can wholly recommend giving it a go (watching mouldy badgers falling to bits, not architecture). So I gave up the life academic and went a-working offshore instead. That involved a lot of swearing as I recall. Swearing and drinking endless cups of tea. And I think I had Alpen every morning for about a year and a half. Can’t look at a bowl of the stuff now without getting the dry boak, sod how regular it keeps you. After my stint offshore I had a bash at being a graphic designer, a professional actor, failed the interview to be an undertaker, passed the interview to be a marketing company’s studio manager, a web designer, programmer, technical lead… Then last, but by all means least, finally circling the career drain by becoming a project manager for a huge IT conglomerate. Shudder.

“Anyway, while I was doing all that IT stuff, I wrote a wee book about an Aberdonian detective sergeant and his dysfunctional colleagues: Cold Granite. HarperCollins bought it, and overnight I went from a grumpy project manager caterpillar to a writing butterfly. As long as you can picture a six-foot-tall, pasty-white, bearded butterfly with no wings, that spends all its time hanging about the house in its jammies.

“I’ve been shortlisted for a bunch of things, won a couple of them (including Celebrity Mastermind), been lucky enough to have a couple of honorary doctorates conferred upon me (by the lovely Dundee and Robert Gordon universities) but my crowning achievement has to be winning the WORLD STOVIES CHAMPIONSHIP at the 2014 Huntly Hairst! How impressive is that?

“Oh, and I own a banjo now. Banjos are cool.”

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