When a three-year old girl is reported missing, DCI Andy Gilchrist is assigned the case. But Gilchrist soon suspects that the child's mother - Andrea Davis - may be responsible for her daughter's disappearance, or worse, her murder.
The case becomes politically sensitive when Gilchrist learns that Andrea is the daughter of Dougal Davis, a former MSP who was forced to resign from Scottish Parliament after being accused of physically abusing his third wife. Now a powerful businessman, Davis demands Gilchrist's removal from the case when his investigation seems to be stalling. But then the case turns on its head when Gilchrist learns that a paedophile, recently released from prison, now lives in the same area as the missing child. The paedophile is interrogated but hours later his body is found on the beach with evidence of blunt force trauma to the head, and Gilchrist launches a murder investigation.
As pressure relentlessly mounts on Gilchrist, he begins to unravel a dark family secret, a secret he believes will solve the fate of the missing child.
Publication date: 12 May 2016
Page count: 384
Q&A with T.F. Muir
Blood Torment is the latest in your critically acclaimed DCI Gilchrist series – is it the best yet? Oh, that’s an unfair question! What I can say about Blood Torment is that it’s the least gruesome of the series. Even so, for readers who thrive on bloodied incidents, they won’t be disappointed. Once again, Gilchrist is up against it, and I’ve focused on keeping the suspense tight and active throughout. Having said that, my publisher thinks it’s the strongest Gilchrist yet. It would be nice if they were proven correct.
Tell us about your inspiration for the plot line – do you draw on real life news stories for inspiration?I do indeed, as well as picking up ideas from everyday gossip, or some passing comment in the pub. The inspiration for Blood Torment came to me when I was watching a TV news programme, and a four-year old child had been reported missing. A couple of days later, the child’s body was found, and the mother confessed to murder. As this heart-breaking story closed out, I wondered… what if a child went missing, and the police homed in on the mother, only to uncover some dark family secret that no one would have found out or ever have suspected otherwise. And if so, what could that secret possibly be? I had no idea, but when I wrote the story the answer to that question surprised even me.
Scotland produces some pretty incredible crime writers. What sets Scottish crime-writing apart, do you think, from the rest? That’s a tough question to answer, but I think the answer lies somewhere in the weather, and the fact that Scotland can be a harsh and rugged place in which to live and work. I think most crime readers have a certain level of expectancy – they want the vicarious thrill of witnessing death close up, being touched by gory and gruesome scenes through the eyes of the characters. They want to experience the thrill of suspense, and the challenge of a mystery, and in the end be surprised by the end result. And in amongst all of that, the author has to create believable characters and scenes the reader can feel. This is where Scotland’s rugged bleakness wins hands down in a dark story, where authors can rely on the weather battering their settings senseless, while characters have to struggle with their business, solving crimes, and keeping one step ahead of the bad guys.
Your books are set in St Andrews – is it a special place to you? My wife, Anna, and I have particularly fond memories of St Andrews from holidaying there with the boys every year. And when the idea came to me to set a crime series there, the auld grey toon with its black cliffs over which you could push a body, its gorse bushes in which you could hide any number of bodies, and the Fife Coastal Trail running through it, in which you could hide a body for weeks during the winter months, just set my imagination on fire. On top of that, the busy town centre with its many pubs and restaurants in which DCI Gilchrist could strategize an investigation, or celebrate solving the latest crime, just added to the place. Of course, having to carry out some serious writing research, checking out each and every one of these bars, is one of the best things about being an author.
How and where do you write? I write at home on a computer – one of our spare bedrooms turned into an office – and when I’m working on that first draft, I aim for a daily word count, the target being somewhere between 2,000 and 3,000 words a day – depending on how close the publisher’s deadline is. I tend not to write from a detailed synopsis, but from a sliver of an idea, which keeps the writing fresh and exciting to my mind. Of course, this often results in considerable rewriting, but once that first draft is done – which is the part of the process I find the most challenging – I really begin to enjoy it all again, because I have the guts of a story. All I have to do then, is to fine-tune it, hone it, tighten it up, cut out subplots that didn’t quite work, expand on those that did, and keep pecking and chipping away at it until it’s as good and as polished as I can possibly make it.
What’s next for DCI Andy Gilchrist? I’m currently working on a couple of short synopses – silvers of ideas – for the next in the series, number seven, which I will present to my editor for her consideration. Once we agree a basic plot, then it’s up to me to get the head down and knuckle under to the grind of that daily word count. I’m particularly excited about one idea – which I’m not going to disclose at this early stage – and can’t wait to sit down and get started developing it. So do please tell my readers to rest assured that DCI Gilchrist is here to stay.
'Rebus did it for Edinburgh. Laidlaw did it for Glasgow. Gilchrist might just be the bloke to put St Andrews on the crime fiction map' Daily Record
'A bright new recruit to the swelling army of Scots crime writers' Quintin Jardin
'Gripping and grisly, with plenty of twists and turns that race along with black humour' Craig Robertson
'Gilchrist is intriguing, bleak and vulnerable... if I were living in St Andrews I'd sleep with the lights on' Anna Smith
About the author:
Born in Glasgow and now a dual UK/US citizen, T.F. MUIR is a crime novelist with six books of his DCI Andy Gilchrist series published - the first, Eye for an Eye, won the Pitlochry Award for the best crime novel by an unpublished writer, and the second, Hand for a Hand, continues to garner great reviews. His latest, The Meating Room, has been hailed as one of the best of a brilliant series.
He is now working on his next Gilchrist novel, another story suffused with dark alleyways, cobbled streets and all things gruesome.