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by Caro Ramsay

Decades after Detective Chief Inspector (DCI) Alan McAlpine last worked at the Partickhill Station in Glasgow, he finds himself reluctantly back.

This time as a star investigator,  leading a team trying to find the brutal killer of two women.

Each was chloroformed, eviscerated and left with her arms spread out to the sides and her feet crossed over one on top of the other as if she were crucified. The women appear to have nothing in common, except both allowed the killer to get close without fear.

Twenty years earlier, he had been a green constable at Partickhill Station, fresh from bereavement leave after the death of his older brother.  He was assigned to guard the hospital room of a woman who had had acid thrown in her face. Pregnant, she went into labor as she was brought to the emergency room.

Once beautiful, she will be blind and scarred for life — if she survives. She is too injured to even hold her new baby.

Curious and then increasingly affected by the hurt woman, McAlpine grows so attached he gives her a name, Anna. He does his own investigation trying to find out more about her. Concerned, his superiors reassign him to another case. Not long after, “Anna” commits suicide in her hospital room.

Now as McAlpine and his team try to identify the serial killer, McAlpine is haunted by the earlier case, growing moody and unfocused. His wife, Helena Farrell, a talented artist and gallery owner, and his key staff members, Detective Inspector (DI) Colin Anderson and Detective Sergeant (DS) Freddie Costello, are puzzled by what they observe in McAlpine but know better than to directly ask about.

This story is part police procedural, part ghost story and part love story. Author Caro Ramsay has managed to balance past and present investigations beautifully, never letting any one character dominate. The contemporary mystery takes twists and turns that keep you guessing about the killer to the last pages. The mystery of the past entwines with the contemporary mystery with rising suspense.

Published in 2007, ABSOLUTION was the first of Ramsay’s DI Anderson and DS Costello mystery series. The other books (in order) are:

  • DARK WATER (2010)
  • RAT RUN (2016)
  • THE SIDEMAN (2018)
  • MOSAIC (2019)
  • THE RED, RED SNOW (2020)

If noir mysteries set in the brooding landscape of Scotland appeal to you, check out the suggestions in this post: Tartan Noir.

About the Author: Caro Ramsay

Born in Govan on Glasgow’s south side to a shipyard crane designer and an office worker, Caro Ramsay is a graduate of the British School of Osteopathy and runs a large osteopath center in West Scotland, treating both animals and humans.

Ramsay writes in her spare time. Absolution was her first novel and was shortlisted for the CWA New Blood Dagger in 2008. Its sequel, Singing to the Dead, was long-listed for the Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award in 2010

A tall slim blonde with a quick laugh, Ramsay has said she prefers simple, mundane methods of murder to more elaborate ones in her novels.


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