Hand for a Hand by Frank Muir

Reviewer: Chris Longmuir

Gangland Vengeance, Drug Deals, Murder and Torture

Someone is out to get St Andrew’s cop, DCI Andy Gilchrist

Six body parts and someone with vengeance on their mind. As if DCI Andy Gilchrist didn’t have enough to cope with. His family don’t want to know him, his ex-wife is dying, and his most recent relationship has broken down.

When the first body part, a woman’s hand, is found in a sand bunker on the seventeenth green of St Andrew’s Old Course, it seems like any other murder until Gilchrist discovers the note clutched between the dead fingers. The note has only one word – Murder – and it is addressed to him. And to make matters worse, an old adversary of Gilchrist has been allocated to work the case with him.

Muir’s second novel, set in a dark and menacing St Andrews, has all the elements of a great crime story. A psychopathic criminal out for revenge, an undercover cop who breaks all the rules and seems to be more on the criminal’s side than the law, and oblique messages addressed to Gilchrist that seem to prove someone is out to get him.

After the discovery of the second body part, Gilchrist is horrified to learn that the victim is someone who is very close to his family. He is now convinced that the murderer has a personal interest in torturing him.

More body parts follow and each one has a message for Gilchrist. Always a single word. The first said Murder, closely followed by Massacre, Bludgeon, Matricide, Dismember, and Butcher.

Gilchrist struggles to interpret what they mean; convinced they contain a message meant for him. When he eventually deciphers it, he is horrified to find out the next target is his daughter.

He tries to warn her but is too late to prevent her abduction, and the only way he can rescue her is by following the clues and finding out who is responsible.

This is an angry Gilchrist, full of guilt and remorse, desperately trying to discover who is responsible for the threat to all he holds dear. Muir’s second novel is darker than his first, full of mystery, despair, excitement and a fair number of stomach churning scenes. It is a book that is impossible to put down. Muir certainly knows how to rack up the suspense to keep the reader on the edge of the seat and has produced a page turner of the first order.