Tag Archives: DI Jack Knox

‘Murder at Flood Tide,’ by Robert McNeill

A woman is strangled in an out-of-the way spot in Edinburgh. Detective Inspector Jack Knox is surprised to learn that the case has been taken over by a “more sophisticated” police team from western Scotland. Their leader, however, turns out to be a decent and sensible fellow. He puts Jack in operational command and makes his people available to reinforce the local cops, who know the territory.

Crime scene investigation, witness reports, and CCTV suggest that the killer drove a delivery van, so the team begins a systematic investigation of delivery companies and their drivers. Slowly the noose tightens, but surprises are in store.

That’s how Robert McNeill’s Murder at Flood Tide goes. It’s not a thriller, but a fairly realistic police procedural, like the previous volume in the series, The Innocent and the Dead, which I’ve already reviewed. The drama is mostly low-key, but along with the threat of the serial killer, there is an insubordinate team member to be dealt with.

I like the realistic approach of this series, but I can’t pretend I find these books compelling. They are entertainment with a moderate level of dramatic tension; nothing to keep you awake at night.

‘The Innocent and the Dead,’ by Robert McNeill

There are two novels in the DI Jack Knox police procedural series to date. However, this first volume, The Innocent and the Dead, also includes a prequel novella, Labyrinth.

DI Jack Knox, the hero, is an Edinburgh, Scotland detective. He’s divorced, and his wife and daughter have emigrated to Australia. He is now dating a female subordinate, which is technically out of bounds but nobody seems very concerned about it.

The first story, Labyrinth, involves an attractive young woman found strangled near a tourist landmark. She is found to have been working as a prostitute, though she also seems to have been a practicing evangelical Christian. The investigation is complicated, but gets wrapped up relatively quickly.

In The Innocent and the Dead, a wealthy distiller’s college-age daughter has been kidnapped. After initially cooperating with the police, her father opts to follow the kidnapper’s instructions and keep the detectives in the dark about the ransom drop. This makes it hard for the cops, trying to keep tabs on the father as he attempts to avoid them – it appears at times they would have done better to let him alone. And when the payoff is missed, and a girl is found murdered, it all looks very bad….

This is a new mystery series, and the characters are still not entirely in focus. I found the stories competently written and entertaining, though not highly memorable. At a couple points, I thought the narrative was veering into church-bashing, but the author avoided that.

Moderately recommended. Cautions for mild adult stuff. I might read the second novel.