Lies to Tell by Marion Todd – D.I. Clare Mackay is back for another crime-busting, thrilling, twisting rollercoaster ride.
Marion Todd is a full-time crime novelist based in North-east Fife, overlooking the River Tay, but like many aspiring, talented writers – including J.K. Rowling – it has been a long road to success. She first studied music with the Open University and worked as a piano teacher, accompanist and a hotel lounge pianist. After a busy family life, (married to a Detective with Police Scotland), bringing up three children, she then had time to write short stories for magazines and was shortlisted for a Scottish Arts Council Award.
With a life long love of the crime genre, since reading Agatha Christie in her youth, she then created a feisty character, Detective Inspector Clare Mackay as the star of her debut thriller, “See Them Run” published in 2019.
On the night of a wedding celebration, one guest meets a grisly end when he’s killed in a hit-and-run. Set in St. Andrews, the ancient University town and international home of Golf, DI Clare Mackay is on the hunt for a cold, systematic, serial killer.
‘All the ingredients of a cracking crime novel: a strong female lead, a vivid sense of place, a rising body count and a twist you don’t see coming … A welcome addition to the Tartan Noir genre’ Claire Macleary, author of ‘Cross Purpose.’
An immediate smash hit, “See Them Run” was nominated for the Bloody Scotland Scottish Crime debut of the Year, 2020.
Canelo commissioned Todd for a three book deal and so DI Mackay was back again in the second novel, “In Plain Sight.” When a baby girl is snatched from the crowd of spectators at a fun run on West Sands beach, the local police have a major investigation on their hands. Which of the residents of St Andrews is hiding something – and why?
And most recently published is the third thriller in the series, “Lies to Tell.”
LIES TO TELL by Marion Todd
If you have not yet read the first two in the series, like me, no problem at all as this is a stand-alone novel and it’s easy to pick up important elements of the backstory.
Early one morning DI Clare Mackay receives a message from her boss DCI Alastair Gibson telling her to accompany him on a secret mission to meet Gayle Crichton, an ethical hacker who is to investigate a serious security breach inside Police Scotland. However, Clare must conceal Gayle’s true identity and undercover work from her team at the St. Andrews station.
Meanwhile, DI Mackay is dealing with a key witness under police protection in a Safe House before an important Court case, and the report of a missing university student. The action takes place over a short time frame, 15th to 24th May, so expect a pacey, tense and dramatic narrative.
Getting to grips with the full rounded personality of realistic characters is essential to grab the reader’s attention. Within the first couple of pages, we learn that Clare lives alone with her dog, Benjy, at Daisy Cottage, with its wildly overgrown garden. At work, she wants to prove she is a competent, ambitious detective, as good as her male, macho counterparts, and dresses smartly for the professional image.
Todd has an easy, free flowing style of storytelling, with vivid descriptions such as this picture of DCI Alastair Gibson:
“ The DCI, dressed to impress in a fine dark grey suit … Giorgio Armani. His tie was knotted tightly at the neck and his shirt cuffs were held by a pair of plain silver cufflinks.”
The location setting too is vitally important for a realistic sense of place – whether Rankin’s Edinburgh or Dexter’s Oxford.
“ The Safe House was a two bedroomed flat in busy Market Street, above a shop selling what Clare called, tartan tat for tourists. The street was cobbled with a dried up fountain . .. busy with mums wheeling pushchairs and red gowned students going between lectures.”
As Mackay tries to navigate the increasingly complex, convoluting maze of criminal cases, the underlying theme is all about secrets, lies and whom she can trust. As the pressure builds up, we can see her strong minded, feisty nature focussed on the job.
But we also see the softer, feminine side, as she misses her partner Geoffrey who has moved to Boston, and her new singleton lifestyle is now akin to Bridget Jones: “She opened the fridge – a Cottage pie from M&S stood alone on the shelf .. and she took a bottle of red from the wine rack, pouring herself a large glass.”
Footloose and fancy free, enjoying many a glass of vino and Prosecco, we soon follow her tentative steps through text messages to the temptation of a closer relationship with a senior officer. Romantic encounters aside, the heart of this gripping, gritty plot line, is a murky mire of dangerous liaisons involving scams, money laundering, abduction and a gruesome murder.
Clare is a tough cop, (a former armed response officer), but she is also vulnerable, emotional woman, which is well portrayed. As she confides DS Chris West, “I don’t know who I can trust” …. “The strain of the past week, she felt as if it was all coming crashing down on her.”
With so many unexpected, terrifying twists, the reader is taken on a rollercoaster ride until the clever, cliff hanger ending which indicates a tricky romantic entanglement for Clare to solve.
As a genuine, believable, leading lady, DI Clare Mackay could easily follow DI Rebus in Edinburgh, and DI Perez & DS Macintosh on Shetland to the small screen, amidst the atmospheric setting and wild seascapes around St. Andrews in the Kingdom of Fife.
In September 2020, independent publisher Canelo launched a new crime fiction imprint, Canelo Crime.
“ I remain convinced that crime fiction offers the most exciting combination of thrills, deceit and cleverness. The best of the genre will emotionally invest its reader, and give hope that good can overcome evil, (though only with a brilliant sleuth or fearless hero in charge). We have been proud of the recognition that Marion Todd received a nomination for the Bloody Scotland, Scottish Crime Debut of the Year, 2020. Marion’s ongoing DI Clare Mackay series has quickly been established as a favourite with crime fiction fans. Keep an eye on our website for forthcoming news about Marion’s new novel, ‘What They Knew’.
Louise Cullen Publishing Director
CANELO | CANELO CRIME
“What They Knew” by Marion Todd is to be published on 11 February 2021 by Canelo Crime. The New Year starts with a death ...