by James McCrone
May 15 - June 9, 2023 Virtual Book Tour
In politics, people cheat to win, or because they're afraid to lose. Which isn't always the same thing. A second referendum on Scottish Independence looms, an unlikely investigator uncovers meddling in the first, and desperate conspirators panic, with deadly results. Bastard Verdict weaves high stakes, low politics, and complex characters into a noir tale of power, loss and Faustian bargains.
When a Scottish government official enlists FBI Elections Specialist, Imogen Trager (on research leave at the University of Glasgow) in the fall of 2023 to look into the 2014 Scottish Independence referendum—ostensibly as a means of ensuring that a possible second referendum will be conducted fairly—he claims that he wants an outsider’s unencumbered view.
The government official may not be what he seems, and the trail Imogen follows becomes twisted and deadly, leading to a corrupt cabal intent on holding on to power.
But they didn’t count on Imogen, a feisty, conflicted and driven investigator who goes strictly by the numbers, if rarely by the book. To find the truth, Imogen will risk everything—her reputation, career, and possibly her life. None but a very few know that truth. And those few need it to stay hidden. At any cost.
This novel is a deep dive into the politics of Scotland, especially around the issue of independence, separating from England. It highlights the desperate actions powerful people will take to protect their governmental position and hide nefarious acts. I did find it a bit hard to understand all of the government agencies and positions of authority in the novel as I am not familiar with Scotland's governing system and political hierarchy.
McCrone does a fine job of presenting the vernacular of the various areas where action takes place. That did slow down my reading a bit but I appreciated the local dialects. There was also the difficulty of terms. I had to look up the meaning of busker, for example. But these fellows were thugs rather than musicians on a street corner. Also, there was no Author's Note in the galley I read to clarify the historical and fictional elements of the novel.
McCrone has woven a good plot introducing us to election fraud in a European country. Imogen remains a good heroine as she tries to outsmart powerful people in high places to reveal the illegal activities. This is a good novel for readers who like deep immersion into a country's dirty politics, a bungled cover-up, a pervasive culture and an exciting conclusion. I hope Imogen has further adventures in store.
My rating: 4/5 stars.
Genre: Mystery-Crime, Thillers
Published by: Hernes Road Books
Publication Date: May 2023
Number of Pages: 293
Read an excerpt:
His short stories have appeared in Rock and a Hard Place; Retreats from Oblivion: The Journal of NoirCon, and in the short-story anthology Low Down Dirty Vote, vols.2 and 3.
He’s a member of Mystery Writers of America, Int’l Assoc. of Crime Writers, Philadelphia Dramatists’ Center and he’s the vice-president of the Delaware Valley Sisters in Crime chapter. A Pacific Northwest native (mostly), he lives in South Philadelphia with his wife and three children. James has an MFA from the University of Washington, in Seattle.
Catch Up With James McCrone:
BookBub - @JamesMcCrone
Instagram - @james.mccrone
Twitter - @jamesmccrone4
Facebook - @FaithlessElector
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(My star ratings: 5-I love it, 4-I like it, 3-It's OK, 2-I don't like it, 1-I hate it.)