Five Ways to Kill a Man by Alex Gray
Alex Gray comes from Glasgow, Scotland. I am delighted at how her writing has developed and strengthened as her writing career has progressed. When I read one of her early books, A Small Weeping, reviewed on this site at https://bookreviewstoday.info/2013/03/13/a-small-weeping-by-alex-gray/, I did not enjoy the book as much as I had hoped to. However, when I heard her speak recently at the 67th Swanick Writers’ Conference, I was struck by what an honest and unassuming woman she is, so I decided to try again. I enjoy crime fiction and have a special place in my heart for the Scottish “Tartan Noir” authors. Alex Grey has always been in the forefront of that group. Indeed, she and Lin Anderson co-founded the Bloody Scotland Crime Writers’ Festival that runs annually in Stirling in September.
I picked up her book Five Ways to Kill a Man at her book signing at Swanick, largely because I liked the title. (Although it did make my husband nervous, when I arrived home with it!) It is the seventh book in her series featuring DCI William Lorimer and this book is interesting because the author gives herself time and space to develop the characters of his wife and mother-in-law to culminate in a poignant ending.
The story is set in Glasgow around the time of New Year celebrations. DCI Lorimer sees in the New Year but is focussed on an unpredictable killer loose on the streets of Glasgow . This dark hooded figure lurks in the shadows, experimenting with murder, again and again. Lorimer is faced with a string of seemingly unconnected victims, and also has to review the case of a horrific fire that murdered a wealthy couple, He turns to psychologist and friend Solly Brightman for his insights. The killer gets to closer to Lorimer himself and his family, so he must unmask the serial murderer before the next victim is found too close to home.
Five Ways to Kill a Man is a beautifully crafted, darkly atmospheric crime novel: In under 30 pages we had three murders so the book starts off quite fast paced. The descriptions of locations and minute details are emphasized so even if you are unfamiliar with Glasgow, you get quite a picture. I think for some people it adds enjoyment to a story if you know some of the places it is based in and it was one of the things I did like in this book as I live close to Glasgow and have got to know it reasonably well.
The build up and all the small things in Five Ways to Kill a Man are explained very clearly. However, the motive is largely left to the reader to gleam from the details that are given. Typical Alex Gray, not to insult the reader’s intelligence. I enjoyed this book very much and hope to see Alex later this month at Bloody Scotland when, if I am lucky, I will pick up another of her novels.