DI Costello is done. No longer does she feel that she has respect for her boss or the force. She knows with all her senses that George Haggerty has killed his family yet he has an airtight alibi; the bloody Scottish Police Force. It seems that George Haggerty has managed to get himself caught speeding the night of the murders. Could this simply be a convenient coincidence? Costello’s boss seems to think so, believing that this is proof enough that he has nothing to do with it, but she is determined to expose him for what he really is – a cold-blooded killer.
Being accused of harassing Haggerty though is the final straw. It leads to Costello handing in her resignation. If she cannot gain justice for Abigail and Malcolm Haggerty as a police officer than she will have to carry on alone. At least this way she will not be tied up in unnecessary paperwork and police protocol.
Her partner of 20 years, Anderson, is struggling with everything that has suddenly happened. Not only has he lost his friend and long term colleague, without her even discussing it with him, he has lost his daughter, Mary Jane, a daughter he didn’t even know he had, whilst gaining a grandson, Moses. How was he supposed to cope with all of this? The biggest problem in his life right now, however, is also George Haggerty. By default of being married to Abigail, Mary Jane’s adopted mother, he is also a grandfather and seems to take great pleasure appearing on Anderson’s doorstep at various times, both during the day and at night. But is he there to see his grandson or to uncover more information about what Costello is up to?
Then there is Valerie Abernethy, Abigail’s sister, and one of the lead suspects in her murder. A drunk unable to cope with life anymore she wants nothing more than to blot out the pain. But does she really have it in her to kill herself? She believes she is hiding her addiction well, telling herself that she is a fully functional alcoholic, but in truth, she hasn’t been functional for a long time. Will she seek the help she needs? Will she go on to hinder the current investigation into the murder of her beloved sister?
Unfortunately, this doesn’t end with the Haggerty murders, now deemed the Monkey House Murders by the press, and more people will go on to be hurt or lose their lives, but who is behind this crime spree?
Police Scotland is soon being called to Loch Lomond where a rather large amount of blood has been discovered, while a lady with amnesia and a severe head injury is admitted to a Glasgow hospital, a body also washes up on the shores of a remote loch and a badly beaten man is left to die on a remote mountain pass.
Are these seemingly unrelated crimes actually connected?
Scotland certainly sounds like a deadly place to visit.
My Thoughts on The Sideman
This is the tenth novel by Caro Ramsay featuring DCI Anderson and DI Costello and many have said that in order to read The Sideman you should read the previous title in the series, The Suffering of Strangers , which I have not. I believe this novel builds on characters that appeared in the previous title which may have added depth to the storyline but I would not discourage people from reading this independently either.
Caro Ramsay writes vividly, making it easy for the reader to believe that they have been transported into the pages of the novel and are then standing on a breezy, grey, mountainside looking over a crime scene alongside Police Scotland.
The Sideman is a cleverly plotted crime novel where the true nature of the crime unfolds amongst a series of cold cases being reopened by a keen, young police officer. It is brilliantly written, with unexpected surprises springing up just as you begin to believe you may have cracked the case for yourself. You feel yourself submerging into the story, wanting to solve the crimes and gain justice for the innocent victims.
If there was one little thing to gripe about, it would be that several of the character’s names are very similar – Archie, Anderson, and Alistair – meaning that at times I had to re-read paragraphs in order to confirm who was being discussed or who was in a dialogue with whom. Although having realised afterward that this is book ten in a long-running series I am sure if I had picked up one of Caro Ramsay’s earlier books each character may have been introduced at length to the reader.
If you enjoy police procedural novels then I wholeheartedly recommend picking up a copy of The Sideman or one of her earlier novels where this duo is first introduced.
Have you read The Sideman or any of the Anderson-Costello series by Caro Ramsay? Would you recommend them to others? Perhaps you have a standout favourite that you believe others must definitely read. If so, please let your suggestion below for others.
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