Title: In Plain Sight
Author: Marion Todd
Published: February 2020
This is author Marion Todd’s second book in her DI Claire Mackay crime series. You don’t have to read the first (See Them Run) to enjoy this one but as In Plain Sight is only the second in the series it’s well worth reading See Them Run first.
While In Plain Sight’s plot line (the search for a kidnapped baby) is enough to drive the story and keep your attention in its own right, for me, as in the first book, it is DI Claire Mackay herself who is the driving force. Her character is driven, feisty, determined, focused and funny while retaining the flaws which make her vulnerable.
The chapters are fairly short which increases the ‘just one more chapter’ factor and had me reading through the night several nights in a row. While See Them Run was a great start to this new series, it feels like the writing is lifted up a gear in this book. I do have some queries about it though. For me, DI Mackay’s love life scenes feel a little intrusive at times rather than flowing with the story. Once for example it felt a little like a dinner date scene was set up to slow things down. While it allowed me to catch my breath I really wanted the momentum to continue. It’s not a big issue though as these scenes are fairly brief. There were also a few times I felt clues or potential evidence were dismissed as not really relevant too quickly. One clue in particular (which I can’t mention as it’d be a spoiler), was dismissed early on but never explained. I don’t want to be too critical though because this is only the second book in hopefully a longer series and far more experienced novelists use similar techniques as plot devices.
Marion Todd’s first book See Them Run was strong for a debut and In Plain Sight has this series knocking on the door of what I’d call the premier league of crime writing. The potential is there and the best compliment I can give is to say that I can’t wait for the next one! While these are Kindle only books at the moment they would be perfectly at home as hard copies on the shelves of the bookstores. Neither do I imagine it will be too long before a television series is in the pipeline. The characters are strong enough with enough ongoing drama and cliff hangers to sustain a dramatised version. The fact the books are set in Scotland is an added bonus but I may be biased there!
Having read the early Ian Rankin Rebus books, I think Todd is, at this stage in her career, a better writer than Rankin at the same stage. I’m also glad that as in See Them Run, the writing in In Plain Sight is once more pared back, doesn’t ramble yet isn’t so sparse that you’re left wanting more detail. In my view, the writing/editing process for these books is excellent.
I was going to give this four stars, dropping one because of the issues I’ve mentioned above. Yet this is still early in a series and I suspect to some extent the author is still finding her feet although the plotting is very accomplished. I suspect a more experienced author would be very happy if they’d written the same book. In my view it shouldn’t be too long before Todd is a household name in the crime fiction/police procedural market.
There is also an intriguing autism side-story which, while not part of the main plot, has me interested in seeing where it goes as I have family members on the spectrum. I’m wondering if an autism plot line could be explored further into this series? So given that this is still a new author I’d say the overall impressive story, characters and writing, and the fact I can’t wait for the next one, means I’m giving it five stars. Highly recommended.
Thanks to NetGalley and Canelo for ARC.