Tag Archives: Harry McNeil

‘Sticks and Stones,’ by John Carson

Another day, another British police procedural series. Not a bad one either, judging by this first book, Sticks and Stones, by John Carson.

Edinburgh DCI Harry McNeil is new to homicide, having previously worked in the Scottish equivalent of Internal Affairs. With his sidekick, female DS Alex Maxwell, he’s sent to a country estate to hunt for a bride who disappeared from the wedding reception. Odd duty, but the bride’s father, Broderick Gallagher, is a wealthy man with many important friends, so he gets special favors. Harry and Alex figure the woman just got cold feet, so it’ll be an easy weekend with some good food and drink.

Until searchers discover a headless body, aflame in the woods.

And the bride’s sister is kidnapped.

The whole conspiracy leads back to a long-ago murder-suicide, and revenge nurtured for years, to be served up cold at the wedding.

Sticks and Stones wasn’t absolute top-flight crime fiction, but it was pretty good. The writing was lively, and the characters interesting.

I did note a small problem with cop banter. A lot of cop banter went on here. I like cop banter. The problem in this book – and I hope author Carson will fix this in future outings – is that the banter is all the same. There are three main pairs of cops who banter back and forth, and their banter is almost indistinguishable. Distinct styles of banter are called for here, particularly to distinguish male-female banter from male-male banter.

Just a suggestion.

Not a bad novel, though. Cautions for the stuff you’d expect.