cover image The Loner

The Loner

Quintin Jardine. Headline (IPG, dist.), $23.95 (384p) ISBN 978-0-7553-5716-1

Jardine’s first stand-alone lacks the twists and compelling lead of his Bob Skinner police thrillers (Grievous Angel, etc.). The book’s conceit—that the fictional Spanish-born journalist Xavi Aislado (whose last name means “the Loner”) has shared his notes for an autobiography with the author—doesn’t add anything, but the bigger flaw is the slow-moving story line of Xavi’s life, as he transitions from student through professional footballer to Scottish crime journalist. The elegiac opening, in which an older Xavi recalls, “There was a time when a few of the sun’s rays shone into my life,” sets the stage for the inevitable tragedy that derails him. The overly detailed description of his vicissitudes as a goalie may appeal to sports enthusiasts, but those sections will drag for Jardine fans used to gritty scenes of violence and Skinner’s navigation of the treacherous shoals of office politics. (Dec.)