Lin Anderson

















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  Scottish Book of the month
for September 2004

In WH Smith's this morning buying envelopes, spotted TORCH on a shelf. It is now 7.30pm and I have just finished it. Just couldn't put it down once I started.  It's a real page-turner, a nail-biter - and that marvellous dialogue only a script-writer could produce.  The plot, the Edinburgh atmosphere was spot on -  hope that Rhona and Severino are to meet again - you really made the sparks fly there. Now I'm off to get DRIFTNET!
Thank you again, for a very nice day and a great read.

Alanna Knight
("crime writer extraordinaire")

When I read a book I like to learn something new. Thanks to Torch, my knowledge of arson is greatly expanded. I know that burned bodies shrivel into "a boxer's stance", that the colour of smoke can tell a detective many things, and unreassuringly, arson one of the tougher crimes to solve, is on the increase.
If only there were a real life version of forensic scientist Dr Rhona MacLeod on the case, I'd feel more secure. In the second of an ongoing series of detective novels featuring MacLeod, Lin Anderson transplants her Glaswegian sleuth to Edinburgh in December where a burnt-out building on Princes Street leads her into a game of cat-and-mouse with a twisted firestarter.
She immediately comes into conflict with Severino MacRae, a fire investigator. He's a brusque workaholic and, if that whisky breakfast we see him enjoying in the first scene is anything to go by, that's not the only -aholic he is. The arsonist is sending MacRae vile letters hinting something big is planned for Edinburgh's world famous Hogmanay.
Anderson's brisk no-nonsense pacing will appeal to fans of crime writing.

Just a few pages in and there's a brutal murder, arson attacks in Glasgow and Edinburgh, a fire investigator with an alcohol problem, threatening notes and a detective laid up with a heart attack - and we haven't even got to the heroine yet.
Not only is forensic scientist Dr Rhona MacLeod's workload piling up, but there is are sure signs of a troubled love-life and the nerve-wracking prospect of a reunion with the son she gave away. Greenock-born Anderson's work is sharper than a pathologist's scapel. One of the best Scottish crime series since Rebus.

Shari Low - Daily Record

I groaned when I saw the words “Stalker, Arsonist, Killer” on the cover. But thank goodness this one is a mere 230 pages, and despite the subject matter, Lin Anderson has a certain lightness of touch which makes this second novel in a series featuring forensic scientist Rhona MacLeod, much more readable.
It is set mainly in Edinburgh, where Rhona is summoned from her native Glasgow to investigate a suspicious fire which resulted in the death of a young homeless girl. Although reluctant, she has to go because her opposite number in Edinburgh has had a heart attack. Her mood doesn’t improve when she meets the chief fire investigator, Severino MacRae, who is both hostile and rude.
The dead girl, Karen, had been befriended by Jaz, a former drug addict, but her greatest friend was her devoted Alsatian, Emps, whom she kept well-fed even if she starved herself. Emps has managed to escape the fire, and is adopted by Jaz, who, shattered by Karen’s death, is bent on carrying out certain investigations of his own.
The relationship between MacRae and Rhona is a major aspect of the book, complicated by the fact that he has been thrown out by his wife but is still devoted to their daughter Amy. Rhona also has a live-in partner, a jazz musician who is away on tour in Amsterdam. But she finds MacRae undeniably sexy.
Both Rhona and MacRae receive threatening e-mails, there are further fires and the odd crucifixion and they wake up to the fact that there is something personal about the whole thing. The biggest open air Hogmanay party is about to be held in Edinburgh, and the prospect of a catastrophic fire at this event is the worst possible scenario.
This is a compact, well-crafted novel, and some aspects of it are left unresolved at the end, which I rather like.

Maureen Carlyle -


(Book 7)


(Book 6)



(Book 5)



(Book 4)




(Book 3)



(Book 2)




(Book 1)




(Prequel to Book 1)


Imagine it. A ruthless arsonist on the loose somewhere in Edinburgh and Hogmanay is fast approaching. Revellers will throng the streets as Scotland's biggest outdoor party gets under way. But what if a Princes Street building were to erupt in a gigantic ball of flame?
Author Lin Anderson sets just such a scenario in Torch, her second novel featuring forensic scientist Rhona MacLeod. The novel follows the scientist's debut in Driftnet, published in 2003 and like its predecessor, it is guaranteed to grip the reader's imagination.
Lin Anderson writes at a cracking pace - short chapters with not a wasted word - and the depth of her research into the professional life of Rhona MacLeod, the horrors of an arsonist's handiwork and the behaviour of that elemental demon, fire, is obvious throughout.
The Glasgow-based scientist is called to Edinburgh after a young homeless girl dies in an arson attack on an empty building in Princes Street. There have been mysterious fires in Glasgow too.
Rhona and Chief Fire Investigator, Severino MacRae, play cat and mouse with the unknown arsonist. Their investigations take them from street level down, via the cellars of local worthy, Queen Mary's squat, into the Edinburgh sewers.
There is a body, but is the arsonist there? What potential disaster has he hidden in the network of tunnels? How can they find him? The clock is ticking.

Rhona's task is made no easier by the misogynistic attitude of MacRae, too fond of the bottle since his wife and he parted company. His young daughter went with her. A high-flying forensic scientist from Glasgow is about the last person he wants near him. Yet somehow, there is a growing attraction ...
He sends Rhona back to Glasgow. Is this merely a reluctance to work with her, or is it a desire to keep her safe? Someone has been communicating with her. There is a jumble of letters. Unscrambled they read: burn the bitch. Her car is set on fire.

Then there is Jaz, art student drop-out and current Big Issue seller. Jaz, friend of 15-year-old homeless Karen, with her faithful Alsatian dog, Emperor. We meet penny whistle-playing Karen only briefly before her life is brutally snuffed out. Fire again. A great ball of it.
But Jaz has a big part to play in the drama. He quits his his Waverly Station pitch to go north. He runs into Tommy Moffat and he is big trouble - there's a fire-blackened corpse pinned to the wall of a burned-out flat to prove it. And what's Tommy doing there anyway? Another thread holding the mystery of the mysterious fires together.
Naturally, all the threads are drawn together when we finally learn the identity of the arsonist. The other threads in Rhona's life are also tightened - or slackened. Severino MacRae ... her live-in boyfriend Sean ... Liam, the son she gave away as a baby and who now wants to meet her.
Readable. Very readable. Every last word.

- Ian Smith


Buy TORCH ...

ISBN-10: 0340922370 - ISBN-13: 978-0340922378

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