cover image After a Dead Dog

After a Dead Dog

Colin Murray, . . Carroll & Graf, $25.95 (416pp) ISBN 978-0-78671-961-7

Set on the west coast of Scotland, Murray's promising debut thriller reunites Iain Lewis, a poet turned intermittently employed sitcom writer, with his married ex-girlfriend, Carole, at her mother's funeral. Carole is trapped in an unhappy marriage with Irish mob-connected Duncan Ferguson, who now runs her family's fisheries business. Both her parents died under mysterious circumstances, and her enigmatic brother, Martin, is clearly hiding something. After the wake, Iain returns home to find his house burgled and a briefcase containing a gun, cocaine and cash left behind. Iain doesn't trust the local constable, so he seeks help from a hard-drinking buddy, Glasgow crime reporter Dougie Henderson. Iain later comes upon the body of "harmless alkie" Danny McGovern on a deserted beach, and soon finds himself stalked by two thugs linked to Ferguson. Murray delivers pounding suspense with a violent if not completely surprising conclusion. (May)