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The Good Son by Russel D McLean

“The Good Son” is a first novel by published short story writer, McLean. He has written for various British and American crime and short fiction magazines and this is a creditable first long mystery novel.

McLean’s character is Scottish PI, J. McNee, a flawed and haunted man with enough depth to provide good reading for a number of books in a series. We learn in this first book that McNee had been a member of the Dundee police force until a car accident that took the life of his fiancee caused both psychological and lingering physical pain. That ended McNee’s police career, but started his life as a private investigator.

In “The Good Son” McNee is hired by a local farmer to find out whether the man’s brother committed suicide or was murdered. The police resent McNee’s interference in the case, but begrudgingly accept his leads when it appears that the case involves some out of town thugs and money stolen by the dead brother from a London crime boss.

What is most refreshing about this mystery is that the main character, McNee, is so complex that he could actually be real. You end up feeling his frustration and his pain, even when, like his friends and enemies within the police force, you feel frustrated by the man’s dogged determination to put himself in harm’s way in punishment for the loss of his fiancee. He realizes at the end of the book that he is not to blame for is fiancee, Elaine’s death, and we hope that with that revelation the next book will uncover yet another aspect of this complex character’s personality and life.

This book will appeal to those who like classic gumshoe detective and mystery stories and fans of British Police procedurals. At times the blood and gore, and the frequent swearing got too much for my tastes, but the book will appeal to a wide audience of private investigator mystery fans.

Liz Nichols

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