cover image The Killing Floor

The Killing Floor

Peter Turnbull / Author St. Martin's Press $18.95 (0p) ISBN 97

Forcefully combining the percolating violence of his industrial strength locale with the inherent compassion of the Glasgow Police P Division, whose personal lives are made discordant by a cacophony of subtle ills, Turnbull continues quietly to dazzle with this fine series. His team moves into the suburbs here when a headless corpse is unearthed from the shrubbery of an empty house. The dead woman, who had a harsh nature and few friends, was a social worker who had drunkenly talked of cracking open a three-decades-old local mystery. P Division soon finds the two thugs responsible for her killing, but the real mystery is why Pam McArthur died, not how. Somewhere on the edge of the case is a handsome man in a Rolls Royce, dangerous and supremely confident. This eighth Glaswegian tale, coming after Long Day Monday, is slightly less gritty than the others, but Turnbull's knife-edged characterization, even among the supporting cast (a crippled young man walking the streets in the early hours to avoid abuse; a sad parade of stoic women in abusive relationships) is as incisive as ever. The pacing is languid until the coppers close in on the Rolls driver, when Turnbull looses a torrent of clues and conspiracies onto a complex father/son emotional field. The narrative's contrasting moods--assured and stately at first, then driven and brazenly ambitious--meet at the end irresistibly. (Feb.)